Sunday, April 28, 2019

Yamaya Japanese Wagyu & Grill (Torrance, CA)

Yamaya Japanese Wagyu & Grill
2529 Pacific Coast Hwy, Torrance, CA 90505
Sun 04/28/2019, 08:25p-10:15p

Yamaya Japanese Wagyu & Grill Exterior

I'm quite the fan of yakiniku, and Yamaya was pretty much the last place I needed to check off my list for the South Bay. The restaurant opened at the start of 2010 as Hakata Yamaya, and was more of a wide-ranging, izakaya-style spot. However, the place was renovated, reconceptualized, and renamed in the middle of 2017, and the result was a more focused restaurant with much higher quality meat. Note that this place is associated with Yamaya USA, Inc, a meat and seafood wholesaler.

Yamaya Japanese Wagyu & Grill Interior
Yamaya is located in the Rolling Hills Plaza strip mall, at an address that was previously home to Sansui-Tei (which was actually run by the same owner as Yamaya), Furasato, and Bangkok Avenue. The interior's about what you expect.

Yamaya Japanese Wagyu & Grill Menu: Assorted Yamaya Japanese Wagyu & Grill Menu: Single Item Yamaya Japanese Wagyu & Grill Menu: Motsunabe / Topping & Round Off Yamaya Japanese Wagyu & Grill Menu: Salad / Sides / Soup, Rice & Noodle Yamaya Japanese Wagyu & Grill Menu: Yakiniku Set Yamaya Japanese Wagyu & Grill Menu: Nabe Set
Unsurprisingly, the menu is focused on beef in various forms and formats, though there's also an array of accompanying dishes as well as nabe. Note that genuine Japanese wagyu (usually from Miyazaki Prefecture, but sometimes Kagoshima or Kumamoto) is offered, which is a nice touch and what we went for this evening (in the form of the "Japanese Wagyu Set"). Click for larger versions.

Yamaya Japanese Wagyu & Grill Beer & Beverage List Yamaya Japanese Wagyu & Grill Shochu List Yamaya Japanese Wagyu & Grill Sake List Yamaya Japanese Wagyu & Grill Wine List
In terms of beverages, you get your usual Japanese beers, shochu, sake, and a brief wine list. Corkage is $20 a pop. Click for larger versions.

Washugyu Sashimi with Smoked Shoyu
Washugyu Sashimi with Smoked Shoyu [$12.00]
We began with a complimentary serving of Tajima wagyu-Black Angus hybrid sashimi, sourced from Yamaya's own farm in Oregon (Lindsay Ranch). Taken alone, the meat ate clean and mild, with a chewy consistency. The key, though, was to make use of the included soy sauce, which had a wonderful smoky character to it that paired superbly with the beef. I found this particularly good with the wine below, as it tended to soften the Shafer.

Yamaya Original Salad
Yamaya Original Salad [$9.00]
The salad served as a welcomed respite from all the meat we were having. I especially appreciated the use of wakame here, as well as all the crispy fried bits on top.

Rib Cap
Rib Cap (On the Grill)
Rib Cap (Fully Cooked)
Rib Cap
We were instructed to start with the rib cap, which was the leanest of the four wagyu cuts we had. I found it really well balanced, with classic beef flavors joined by a healthy dosing of fat. This was great with a smidge of char and a sprinkle of salt.

2004 Shafer Cabernet Sauvignon One Point Five
To drink, we had a bottle of the 2004 Shafer Cabernet Sauvignon One Point Five. I got a vivid nose brimming with violet and berries, along with a marked tannic character and a meaty, musty element. The palate was thick and chewy, a uncommonly concentrated wine showcasing dark fruit, forest floor, tobacco, robust tannins, and a slight heat on the long, long finish. Pretty impressive--this one is drinking quite well now.

Short Rib
Short Rib (On the Grill)
Short Rib (Fully Cooked)
Short Rib
The karubi smelled fantastic, and was a luxurious eating experience and a definite step up in fattiness and richness from the cut above. My dining companion likened this to a beef "toro," and noted how easily the meat left a sheen of oil on the lips, though the meat was never overwhelming. Try this with a bit of grilled white onion.

Chuck Flap
Chuck Flap (On the Grill)
Chuck Flap (Fully Cooked)
Chuck Flap
Taken from around the neck area of the cow, the zabuton represented yet another notch up in the decadence scale. This cut was notable for its massive amounts of umami. In fact, it almost had a briny taste to it, one that linked up really nicely with more of that grilled onion. We also tried the smaller pieces on the side completely raw, sashimi style. Compared to the washugyu above, this was considerably fattier, yet still relatively restrained flavor-wise. It really opened up with a dab of salt.

Assorted Vegetables
Our combo came with an assortment of veggies, which worked as a welcomed contrast to all the beef.

Ribeye (On the Grill)
Ribeye (Fully Cooked)
Last up was the rib shin. Thanks to its thickness and more substantial texture, I found this the most satisfying of the cuts we tried. It also took well to searing and caramelization, making for a thoroughly enjoyable course that was heightened even further by the application of salt and wasabi.

We concluded with a piping hot cup of roasty hojicha.

As stated above, Yamaya was the really the last yakiniku joint I wanted to try in the Torrance area, and I'm happy I finally made it out. I had an enjoyable experience here, and I really appreciated the ability to have real deal wagyu, which was pretty fantastic this evening. For all you Japanese BBQ fans out there, this place is certainly worthy of consideration.


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