Anyone who lives in LA knows that Chinatown isn’t really Chinatown. Sure, there are many Chinese people to be found there, but the most authentic Chinese experience is further east in the San Gabriel Valley. Yet, the Torrance and Gardena area is often overlooked when it comes to Asian food, despite the fact that it sports the Toyota and Honda headquarters. And I don’t just mean Japanese food, it also has its fair share of Chinese. One of these is Sea Empress (you must check out their amazing website from 1966), which is all about dim sum.
Nino’s Place in Gardena is one of the many Peruvian holes in the wall that seem to dominate the food scene in that part of LA. Yet, the place remains unique in that it offers just about the biggest Peruvian menu I have ever seen. In fact, I think the only things missing at Nino’s were alpaca and cuy. On the outside, Nino’s claimed to also offer up Mexican food, but these seemed no more than an attempt to get people through the door.
A lot of Latin American restaurants feel the need to include Mexican food to draw otherwise unsure customers in. For that reason, I am always excited to find ethnic restaurants sticking to their goods. One such restaurant is Peru Chix, basically a hole-in-the-wall type of place in Gardena. Peru Chix has such Peruvian favorites as Lomo Saltado, but I kinda thought chicken would be the way to go.
For too long have I been subjected to people who believe the beginning and end of Japanese food is sushi. While living in Japan for half of a year, I believe I ate sushi once. This was not because I was avoiding sushi, but because sushi just wasn’t as prevalent as we are led to believe. Sure, you can find sushi if you are looking, but it is not as though every corner has a sushi place. Rather, it is much more common to find ramen. This isn’t your Cup O Noodle college hangover ramen, but a real, hearty bowl of broth with noodles, meat and more. Recently, some coworkers of mine were heading out to “that ramen place” in Gardena for lunch and I joined them, fingers crossed that this place would be the true Japanese food I’ve been waiting for.