A recipe for Karaage Don (Japanese Fried Chicken Bowl) inspired by our time in Torrance, California! Fried chicken pieces are paired with rice, shredded cabbage, and a variety of toppings.
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After four incredible years in Los Angeles, we have moved back to Northern Virginia!
During our time in LA, we lived in Torrance, California. We had the privilege to meet many amazing people and were surrounded by absolutely fantastic food. While I am excited to be back in the DC area, it is a bit bittersweet.
As I started to put this post together, it became quite long as I realized just how many restaurants we visited in Torrance. So, I am sharing what we have tried east of Crenshaw Blvd and next I will put together everything west with another recipe!
In this post, I am sharing some of our favorite restaurants. They will very much be missed and I can’t wait to visit (and maybe even move back) someday.
Silog at 1555 Sepulveda Blvd was actually my very first stop after landing in Los Angeles to search for a house in 2018. It continued to be a favorite during our time here and was also the very last meal in our home!
They focus on Filipino fusion with many silog (combination of sinangag/garlic fried rice and itlog/egg) options. We especially loved the Longganisa Silog (sweet and mild Filipino sausage) and Adobo Chicken Silog.
Kimbap Paradise is in the same shopping center as Silog at 1585 Sepulveda Blvd H. They have a delicious variety of kimbap- Korean seaweed rice rolls packed with vegetables and/or meat.
We usually got the Beef Kimbap and Pork Cutlet Kimbap. They also have noodles, chicken, tempura, rice dishes, and bulgogi.
La Esperanza at 22832 S Western Ave is open for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and a bakery with Salvadoran, Guatemalan, and Mexican cuisines.
Photographed above is their Boquitas Chapinas (grilled longaniza, fried chicharron, hot dogs, cheese, handmade tortillas with beans, salsa and guacamole), Yuca con Chicharron, Pupusas (so good!), and Quesadilla.
They have a second location in Long Beach.
Offset Coffee Co.
Torrance and Lomita are both home to some fantastic coffee shops and Offset Coffee Co. was one of our favorites.
Offset Coffee Co. is located at 24416 Crenshaw Blvd #1 with a variety of seasonal coffee, tea, specialty drinks, breakfast items, and pastries. I often got the Nitro Vanilla Latte, rotating seasonal drinks, hot chocolate, and avocado toast.
They also opened a second location in El Segundo.
Pinky’s Hot Box
Pinky’s Hot Box is in the same small shopping complex as Offset Coffee Co. Their menu is filled with hot chicken sandos (different options for spice level), breakfast, and chicken tenders.
Some of our favorites so far have been the Katsu Sando (Katsu-style hot chicken, furikake, Sriracha aioli, yuzu slaw, pickled ginger, toasted brioche bun), Adobo fries (Fried chicken in Filipino Adobo sauce, pickled red onions, fried garlic, chives, and fried egg), and Brekkie Sando (Chive-scrambled eggs, American cheese, maple butter, toasted mini brioche bun).
The kids love their Mac and Cheese.
Kagura is located in Old Town Torrance at 1652 Cabrillo Avenue. They feature a variety of katsu (fried cutlets), croquettes, appetizers, and rice bowls.
For takeout, we ordered Millefeuille Katsu (ミルフィ一ユカツ, a favorite- layered tonkatsu), Katsudon (カツ丼, katsu rice bowl), and Salmon Yuzu.
I also love their location in the food court of Tokyo Central in Gardena.
Madre! Oaxacan Restaurant & Mezcaleria is also located in Old Town Torrance at 1261 Cabrillo Ave STE 100.
When dining was closed at the restaurant a couple of years ago, they had a fun Taco Kit available for takeout with handmade tortillas, carnitas, carne asada, chicken, and toppings. Their cocktails and aguas frescas were also delicious.
They have additional locations in Culver City and West Hollywood.
We usually went to Ichimi An closer to our house, but also loved their Old Town Torrance location at 1618 Cravens Avenue.
Ichimiann focuses on handcrafted soba, udon, and rice bowls. Our personal favorites were their Unagi (Eel) Udon and Kake Udon with Agemochi (Fried Mochi). I also used their homemade soba to make Toshikoshi Soba (Japanese New Year Soba).
Torrance Bakery at 1341 El Prado Avenue is a family-owned bakery and has been open since 1984.
In addition to wedding cakes and custom cakes, their bakery also has fun cookie designs, cupcakes, pastries, and sandwiches.
They have a second location in Gardena.
Tendon Tempura Carlos Jr
Tendon Tempura Carlos Jr is one of the newer restaurants in Old Town Torrance at 1510 Cabrillo Avenue. It opened in fall of 2019 by Carlos Pinto and features a delicious variety of tempura, appetizers, rice bowls, soba, and udon.
We got the Premium Tempura Bowl (eel, 2 shrimp, kakiage, seaweed, shishito pepper, half boiled egg, rice, and miso soup) and Small Tempura Bowl and Soba (two shrimp, half boiled egg, seaweed, shishito pepper, and buckwheat soba).
We ordered takeout from Wadatsumi the day we unplugged the refrigerator in preparation for the move.
They have a delicious variety of seasonal Japanese cuisine. In addition to their sashimi, rice bowls, curry, meat, seafood, drinks, and dessert, they also have bento boxes available for delivery.
We got the Japanese Salmon Grill Bento Box, Chicken Karaage Bento, and Hamburger Steak Bento.
Torihei Yakitori Robata Dining
Torihei Yakitori Robata Dining is in the same shopping center as Wadatsumi at 1757 W Carson St Ste A. They focus on charcoal grilled yakitori, small plates, rice bowls, and drinks.
We ordered takeout and tried the Beef Tongue Box with Marinated Green Onion Sauce, Yakitori-Don (chicken thigh and meatball skewers), Oyako-Don (chicken, onion, and egg over rice), Karaage-Don (fried chicken rice bowl), and Warabi Mochi (chilled mochi jello with sweet sauce).
Chinchikurin Hiroshima Okonomiyaki
Chinchikurin Hiroshima Okonomiyaki is also in the same shopping center at 1725 W Carson St. Unit B. As the name suggests, they feature Hiroshima-style Okonomiyaki (広島風お好み焼き).
This savory pancake is packed with about 11 layers of flavor with a thin batter, cabbage, green onions, bean sprouts, pork, noodles, egg, sauce, and seaweed.
Their menu has a few different variations. We especially enjoyed the Chinchikurinyaki (signature dish- the pork and beansprouts are swapped for a ground beef mixture) and GOAM (green onions and Japanese mayo).
They have additional locations in Little Tokyo and Sawtelle.
Torrance Certified Farmers’ Market
The Torrance Certified Farmers’ Market in Wilson Park was one of the largest I had ever been to and packed with so many (about 60!) incredible vendors.
The market is open on Tuesdays and Saturdays (the busiest) with a variety of produce, dairy, eggs, baked goods, coffee, flowers, food stalls, and more.
Chad and I went to Josui Ramen for our last date night before moving. It is in northeast Torrance near Gardena at 2212 Artesia Blvd.
They feature Nagoya-style ramen, appetizers, rice bowls, and drinks. We enjoyed the Kosoba Josui (Shoyu Ramen with garlic oil- so good!), Gyoza, and Chicken Nanban (fried chicken with tartar sauce).
Karaage Don (Japanese Fried Chicken Bowl)
To pair with my first Torrance post, I made Karaage Don (唐揚げ丼, から揚げ丼, Japanese Fried Chicken Bowl) inspired by Torihei Yakitori Robata Dining and a few other places around Torrance (more on that soon)!
Karaage is Claire’s favorite type of fried chicken. She enjoys it simply with a lemon wedge or two, but I really developed a love for Karaage Don while living in Torrance.
This dish pairs the fried chicken with fluffy steamed rice, shredded cabbage, and a variety of options for toppings all in one comforting and flavor-packed bowl.
I added a drizzle of mayonnaise, thinly sliced green onions, roasted shishito peppers, pickled ginger, and lemon slices over the rice bowl, but the toppings can vary.
Other options include a soft boiled egg, desired sauce, seaweed, and additional vegetables.
A Few Tips
This dish is best made with chicken thighs (skin on if you can find them without the bone).
Allow the chicken to marinate for at least 1 hour to help develop the flavor or up to 4 hours.
Fry the chicken in batches and take care not to overcrowd in the oil.
The Karaage Don is best served immediately after assembling.
Mirin is a sweet Japanese cooking rice wine. I use hon-mirin (true mirin) in recipes calling for mirin. I have been able to find it in markets with Japanese ingredients and some larger grocery stores.
Katakuriko (片栗粉, potato starch) is available in larger grocery stores in the gluten free or specialty flour sections and markets with Japanese ingredients. It is also available on Amazon: Katakuriko.
The Shishito Pepper is a light green (they will turn red with maturity, but are best picked when green), wrinkled pepper. They generally are mild, but you will come across one every once and a while (I often see the statistic of 1 out of every 10) that has a surprising level of spice. The peppers can be found in markets featuring East Asian ingredients and some larger grocery stores.
Shichimi Togarashi is a Japanese seven-spice chili seasoning blend. The exact spices may vary based on the brand and the version I used includes a combination of black peppercorns, red chile flakes, garlic, freshly ground ginger root, nori, toasted white and black sesame seeds, and orange zest. A large pinch over your Karaage Don adds a complex hint of spice without becoming overwhelming.
Karaage Don (Japanese Fried Chicken Bowl) Recipe
Adapted from Japanese Soul Cooking
Karaage Don (Japanese Fried Chicken Bowl)
- 1 pound (450 grams) boneless chicken thighs
- 2 teaspoons freshly grated ginger
- 1 clove garlic peeled and grated
- 2 tablespoons (30 milliliters) sake
- 2 tablespoons (30 milliliters) soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon (15 milliliters) mirin
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- 1 cup (125 grams) potato starch
- Vegetable oil for deep frying
- Steamed Japanese short grain rice
- 1/4 green cabbage thinly shredded
- Japanese mayonnaise for drizzling
- 2-4 Shishito peppers roasted or pan-fried
- 1 lemon cut into wedges
- 2 green onions thinly sliced
- Shichimi Togarashi to taste
To make the Karaage (Fried Chicken):
- Cut the chicken thighs into 2 inch (5 centimeter) pieces.
- In a large bowl, combine the ginger, garlic, sake, soy sauce, mirin, and sesame oil.
- Add the chicken to the bowl and toss well to thoroughly coat in the sauce. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour and up to 4 hours.
- In a large wok, bring 2 inches (5 centimeters) of vegetable oil to medium high heat. Once heated and shimmering, reduce heat to medium.
- Place the potato starch in a medium bowl. Remove a chicken piece from the marinade and thoroughly coat in the potato starch.
- Gently place the coated chicken piece in the hot oil and repeat with remaining pieces. Take care not to overcrowd the pan and cook the chicken in batches if needed.
- Fry for 2 1/2-3 minutes per side, until golden and cooked through.
- Use a slotted spoon to remove the chicken and drain on paper towel-lined plate. Remove any pieces of batter between batches of chicken.
To assemble the rice bowl:
- Fill four bowls with desired amount of steamed rice.
- Cover the rice with a layer of shredded cabbage.
- Top with the fried chicken pieces, then add a drizzle of mayonnaise.
- Serve immediately with desired toppings such as shishito peppers, lemon wedges, green onions, and shichimi togarashi to taste.