Hidden way down deep in Redondo Beach is a japanese upscale izakaya called Japonica. if this place was in little tokyo, downtown vancouver, or palo alto, it would be a major hit. It is places like Japonica that keep me loving this ugly and traffic jammed city. Even though LA sucks as a municipal area, it curiously has great food, art, and culture spread all over the area.
Anyhow, back to Japonica. This place has a great design, very tokyo style. The sake list is HUGE and great. Ask the server for recommendation (if he cant help, ask him/her to find someone who can). They also have sake sampling which would also be great. The one thing bad about this place is it is sorta more like a tapas bar than a restaurant. It isnt festive enough to be a true lounge (although if it were a lounge, this place would be GREAT), and it is a bit too pricey for a restaurant. It reminds me of a less social japanese version of blue velvet downtown. If you can live with that, then you will enjoy this place. The entrees "tapas" are small but VERY tasty. The dishes I really liked were fried tofu, sashimi salad, and japonica fried chicken, but really everything was expertly prepared.
The best way to enjoy Japonica is to go at 10pm with 4 talkative friends, buy a big thing of sake, share 4-5 plates of creative japanese cuisinse. You wont be sorry!