Despite the Japanese culinary riches of the Los Angeles area, exilekiss has been missing modern kappo restaurants like the ones she visited in Tokyo. A kappo-ya (sometimes called a koryouri-ya in Tokyo) is a relaxed, convenient place that “specializes in the Culinary Arts, focusing on the chef’s and kitchen’s ability to provide refined Small Plates focusing on the key disciplines within Japanese cuisine: A Kappo menu will usually have dishes featuring their skills for Cutting, Steaming/Stewing, Grilling, Frying, etc.” And, while there are a lot of places in SoCal that call themselves kappos, they’re all pretty humble—nothing like the stylish Tokyo kappos. Until exilekiss found the new Kagura.
Kagura has an extensive, creative menu, but it’s an “unpolished jewel,” says exilekiss. The greatest glory: kinmedai no nitsuke—slow-stewed snapper in soy sauce broth. It’s “perfection personified, so tender, wonderfully flavorful as only Kinmedai can get, and a nice supple texture while still retaining its inherent structure.” Ankimo no touban yaki kuzuankake—sautéed monkfish liver—is “liquid nirvana,” says exilekiss, with a great sear, and light notes of mirin and mushroom. Koayu takikomi gohan—baby sweetfish over steamed rice—is beautiful and simple. It’s steamed inside an earthenware pot, and comes to the table lidded, all the better to preserve the aromas.
“With an innovative menu, and some rare dishes I haven’t seen offered on any local menu, and a great waitstaff aiming to please … Kagura has the potential to be a great Tokyo-style Koryouri-ya. For now, I would stick with the dishes off their Main Menu and pass on the Kaiseki courses until they can work out their service kinks,” says exilekiss.
Kagura [South Bay]
1652 Cabrillo Avenue, Torrance