Richard Foss

Japanese, Sushi: Izaka-Ya by Katsu-Ya

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Izaka-Ya by Katsu-Ya. Photo by Brad Jacobson (

Izaka-Ya by Katsu-Ya. Photo by Brad Jacobson (

Sushi has gone through several evolutions in the U.S., from the traditional version in which the flavor of fresh fish was paramount to modern versions in which spicy sauces, mayonnaise, cream cheese and other flavors dominate. The sushi at Izaka-Ya by Katsu-Ya splits the difference with its rolls and fancy dishes, using modern ideas sparingly and with unusual subtlety. It also has seafood fresh enough for any traditionalist to love – live shrimp, sea urchin that tastes like the wind from the ocean and daily specials that reflect the best from the markets. Traditionalist and modernist may dine together and both find something to appreciate, and that’s a rarity anywhere in Los Angeles. — RF

1133 Highland Ave., Manhattan Beach. 310-796-1888

Runner-up: Oki Doki, 442 Pacific Coast Highway, Hermosa Beach. (310) 798-8289


Japanese: Izaka-Ya by Katsu-Ya

Japanese cuisine always has been much more than just sushi, stir-fries, teriyaki and ramen, but you wouldn’t have known that from the fare at South Bay restaurants in years gone by. That has changed in the past decade, and we’ve come to enjoy the varied flavors of izakaya cuisine – the pub food of Japan, with big, exuberant flavors. Izaka-Ya by Katsu-Ya has been leading the way, serving dishes such as fried eggplant with albacore-miso sauce, Okinawa-style stewed spareribs and Japanese-style ceviche. The restaurant has become a famed lunch spot for its modestly priced bento boxes, and the eatery is busy from the moment it opens until late hours, with locals who delight in the flavors that may be ancient, but are new to them. — RF

1133 Highland Ave., Manhattan Beach. (310) 796-1888


Runner-up: Rice, 820 Manhattan Ave., Manhattan Beach. (310) 798-7722


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