Los Angeles finally has a specialist in kushiage, a subgenre of Japanese cooking devoted to the deep-fryer. It is, specifically, about deep-frying skewers of stuff, and it’s pretty much the most popular thing in Osaka ever, explains exilekiss. This is not tempura frying; most of the stuff is breaded in a traditional mixture of panko, flour, and egg.
Now LA has Horon, and it’s pretty darn good. The quality is a little varied, says exilekiss, but when it’s on, it’s spectacular. Take Horon’s signature item, buta bara negima, pork belly and Welsh onion. On the first visit, it was completely stunning, says exilekiss: “a perfect bite of buttery, delicious pork fat, skin, and lean meat, very fresh and satisfying.” On another visit, it was a little unbalanced, with one chunk all lean, another chunk all fat.
Tsukune (chicken meatballs) is another signature dish. It’s perfectly fried, with crispy batter and tender, juicy marinated ground chicken. Shiitake tsukune is spectacular, “with a delicious balance of the unmistakable shiitake mushroom fragrance and a juicy blend of ground chicken,” says exilekiss. Hotate bata (scallops with butter) comes without the usual panko breading, and is the better for it. “A fresh scallop with a very light butter marinade, it’s a pleasurable, deep fried bite of sweetness,” says exilekiss. And ika uno no se (squid with sea urchin) is a perfect thing, with fresh, tender, perfectly toothsome squid and beautifully buttery uni to match.
One of the best skewers from the vegetable menu is guri-n aspura no be-kon maki, green asparagus bacon wrap. It’s a classic pairing, and the powerful asparagus flavor shines through the earthy, funky bacon.
The place is not perfect. Some of the servings are shockingly small, like the $1 gingko nut skewer that comes with two tiny nuts. And some of the dishes are a bit unbalanced. And you may wear out from the fact that everything comes in the same batter. But there’s tons of awesomeness throughout the menu, and you can explore happily for many a visit.
Horon [South Bay]
2143 W. 182nd Street, Torrance