Wadatsumi is an interesting case for those that have been following this restaurant since its inception. It began as a Japanese Wagyu Beef specialist in West L.A. It then closed down, moved to Torrance, re-opened in a much larger space as a Sashimi Bowl specialist by day, and Seafood and Kushikatsu (Fried Skewers) specialist at night(!). It was delicious.
Then the pandemic hit. They shut down for a bit, but were able to keep doing Kaisendon and other Sashimi Bowl specials to-go. Now they’ve re-opened for dinner again and the menu has changed once more. We were curious how Wadatsumi has fared during the pandemic and thankful they survived and are back.
During lunch time, they have managed to keep their original focus of having excellent Sashimi Bowls and a few other items.
Wadatsumi Kaisen Don (Sashimi Bowl with Abalone, Chutoro (Medium Fatty Tuna Belly), Amaebi (Sweet Shrimp), Hotate (Scallop), Ikura (Salmon Roe), Maguro (Bluefin Tuna), Albacore Tuna, Salmon, Hamachi (Yellowtail), Tamago (Egg), Saba (Mackerel)):
These are super fresh, bright slices of quality Fish. There wasn’t a single bad piece of Sashimi in the entire bowl. The Maguro (Bluefin Tuna), Albacore were both solid. The Saba (Mackerel) was lovely and oily.
I’m still marveling that they give you a full-on piece of Amaebi (Live Sweet Shrimp) and very fresh Hotate (Scallop) in this bowl as well for lunch! They were fantastic.
But the real star might’ve been something Wadatsumi carried over from its original store: Fantastic Rice. As before, Wadatsumi proudly states on the menu that they use a top-quality Koshihikari Rice from Uonuma, Niigata, Japan. For those that don’t know, Rice is a vital component and something many Japanese restaurants take pride in in Japan.
You have an option of Steamed Koshihikari Rice, or Sushi Rice (Seasoned Koshihikari Rice). The chef recommended Sushi Rice for the Kaisendon. Plump, well-rounded, fluffy, and so satisfying, this was serious Steamed Rice! It continues to be some of the best Steamed Rice I’ve had around town.
The Wadatsumi Kaisendon has gone up in price, as it’s now $24.95, but still an incredible value with the quality of the Sashimi involved. The rest of their Sashimi Bowls features fewer types of Fish but still loaded with Sashimi (e.g., a pure Maguro (Bluefin Tuna) Bowl, or Salmon, Yellowtail & Albacore Bowl, etc.), and those bowls are all in the $12.95 - $16.95 range, which is a great value.
Wagyu Roast Beef Bowl:
First, to clarify, unlike the trending misuse of the name around the country, Wadatsumi uses actual Japanese Wagyu Beef when they say “Wagyu” (not “American Wagyu” or “Australian Wagyu”). While it’s not Grade A5 Wagyu (the highest) (@A5KOBE), it is still a stunner.
Before the pandemic, Wadatsumi was using Australian Wagyu for Lunch and only for Dinner did they decide to use Japanese Wagyu. Now for Lunch, they have switched to only using Japanese Wagyu Beef, and the difference is massive:
It may not look like much, but seriously, their Wagyu Roast Beef Bowl is absurdly delicious! There’s a deep, beefy, luscious fattiness and lean Wagyu as well in each bite. It could probably benefit from even less cooking time, but despite the visuals, it wasn’t overcooked for taste. Just so satisfying, moist, fatty, full of flavor!
Add in their fantastic Koshihikari Rice (cooked perfectly) and it was the best “Beef Bowl” we’ve had in years.
Ume Onigiri (Rice Ball with Japanese Plum):
With their fantastic Koshihikari Rice (so plump and toothsome), ordering an Onigiri (or Japanese Rice Ball) is a must. Their Nori (Seaweed) is still a weak spot (it’s soft, not crispy), but most places around town are like that these days. Still, the rest of the Onigiri is fantastic: It’s a huge Rice Ball and the Ume (Japanese Plum) is nicely sour, salty and goes so well with the Rice.
It was great to see Wadatsumi return just as strongly for lunch, but how would dinner turn out? As we perused the menu, it was a bit of a shock: They eliminated their entire Kushikatsu (Fried Skewer) Menu! They were the only Kushikatsu specialist in town, and now it’s gone.
When we asked the waitress, she mentioned it’s because during the pandemic, they had to lay off most of their staff, and they lost their fry kitchen staff permanently (they did not return). So they’ve had to scale back the menu and change things to what they can prepare properly at this time. She did say that their Kushikatsu was popular (and we saw many tables ordering it in the Before Times), so hopefully they bring it back one day soon.
They currently have a few more Appetizers so it’s beginning to feel like a legit Izakaya (Japanese Pub). We started with…
Nibitashi (Seasonal Greens Blanched):
Their Nibitashi (Seasonal Greens Blanched) was a tasty bite. Lightly dressed, a bit of Katsuobushi (Shaved Bonito Flakes) and it was a nice refreshing starter.
Asahi Draft Beer (from Japan):
They had Asahi Beer on Draft, imported from Japan, so that seemed like a nice accompaniment on this hot Summer night. Refreshing, crisp and cool.
Kaiso Sarada (Seaweed Salad):
Their Kaiso (or Seaweed) Salad was another refreshing starter: Cool, chilled variety of Seaweed with Mixed Greens, Kaiware (Daikon Radish Sprouts) in a very good House Onion Salad Dressing.
Kinpira Gobo (Sauteed Gobo (Burdock) Root):
Their version of Kinpira Gobo (Sauteed Burdock Root) was solid. Tender enough, a little zesty, nutty from the Sesame Seeds and a great accompaniment for Beer or Sake.
Kinmedai Sashimi - Alfonsino (Osaka, Japan):
Wadatsumi’s Dinner menu features a selection of fresh Sashimi shipped directly from Osaka Central Market in Japan. Their Kinmedai (Alfonsino) was very fresh and vibrant. Clean and delicate tasting.
Chicken Karaage with Curry Salt:
Wadatsumi’s Chicken Karaage (Fried Chicken) is freshly fried to order. It arrives piping hot (great), is lightly crispy, with a decent battered exterior. However, their Chicken is stringy. I’m not sure if it was a bad batch, or if this is their normal offering, but that brought down the entire dish. It wasn’t terrible, but the texture of the Chicken was a letdown.
Torihei’s Karaage (just a few doors down in the same plaza) is much better.
Japanese Wagyu Chuck Steak Skewer + Japanese Wagyu Tenderloin Skewer:
We loved their Japanese Wagyu Bowl for Lunch, so we were hopeful their Skewers of Wagyu might be something just as delicious. These were new to the Dinner menu. In the Before Times, their Dinner focused on Kushikatsu, some Seafood / Sashimi, and Small Plates. Now they have a wide array of Wagyu dishes, but in rather unusual preparations than what you might be expecting.
The Wagyu Chuck Steak Skewer was a bit too chewy. It’s not Grade A5, but in this case, it was too thick of a cut, so the whole mouthfeel was off.
The Wagyu Tenderloin Skewer wasn’t much better. Also too thick of a cut, the grilling time to cook through the meat ended up resulting in a medium-well doneness (overcooked). Clearly, they are much better at thin slices for their Wagyu Bowls.
Japanese Wagyu Zabuton Kalbi Steak:
As mentioned earlier, while they have a new Wagyu-focused Dinner menu (which sounds great), the preparations and cuts are all rather strange-ish: They have a Wagyu Salad. Wagyu Katsu (Deep Fried Cutlet) Sandwich, Wagyu Sashimi (Raw), and this Wagyu Kalbi Steak on an hot metal plate (like Fajitas).
I was wondering: Where’s the simpler, purer preparation? They had no Shabu Shabu (quick poached) option. No simple Wagyu Steak option except this Kalbi Grill option.
The Wagyu Kalbi was better than the Skewers. But that hot plate meant that the Wagyu kept cooking after it arrived, and we were trying to minimize extra (unnecessary) cooking for such a delicate piece of Beef (or it renders all the luscious fat away).
Some tasty Wagyu Beef flavors come through, but that hot grill and the cut of “Wagyu Kalbi Steak” just wasn’t a prime cut. There was a bit of chewiness (just a bit), some of that Wagyu fatty lush quality, but not much, and it was just an OK dish for dinner.
Tamagoyaki (Japanese Egg Omelet):
Their Tamagoyaki (Japanese Egg Omelet) is just as great as it was before the pandemic! Truly juicy, fluffy, bursting with flavor and piping hot, their Tamagoyaki is one of the best in L.A.! Definitely a must order!
Negi Toro Takuan Roll (Green Onion & Fatty Tuna Belly with Pickled Daikon Radish Roll):
We finish with one of their Rolls added to the menu. Thankfully they aren’t anything in the fusion category (you won’t find any Crazy Dragon Rolls), but the chance to try a Sushi Roll with their delicious Koshihikari Rice sounded like a good idea.
And this was delicious. Very fresh Toro (Fatty Tuna Belly) mixed with Negi (Green Onions) and Takuan (Pickled Daikon Radish) for some crunch.
Wadatsumi has thankfully survived 2020 and is now re-opened for Dinner and Lunch. Their Lunch menu is still a strong value: Stop in for outstanding fresh Sashimi Bowls. They are arguably the best in the city for the price. The Wadatsumi Kaisen Don is the highlight, but all their Sashimi Bowls are quality and tasty. Their Japanese Wagyu Roast Beef Bowl for lunch is another must order. Luscious, fatty, perfectly cooked with that standout Koshihikari Rice.
Their Dinner side feels like a work in progress now as “Wadatsumi 3.0”. With their loss in kitchen staff, they’ve had to pare down the Dinner menu, and they chopped off their most unique and standout Dinner dishes: Kushikatsu (or Fried Skewers). It’s a huge loss.
But there are still highlights from the Appetizers section, most notably their various cooked Vegetable dishes, their Tamagoyaki (Japanese Egg Omelet) is one of the best in the city, and you can find a variety of Seafood / Sashimi as well.
The new Wagyu Dinner options are just strange and feel slightly off in their preparations. They even have a Wagyu Curry section, which sounds neat, except when you think about how heavy and bold Curry is in general, it would obliterate the delicate Japanese Wagyu Beef flavors.
Here’s to hoping they restore their Kushikatsu menu and add a few more Small Plates to turn this into a more well-developed Izakaya vibe. In the meantime, it’s still a great neighborhood spot to stop by, and we’ll be back for their Sashimi Bowls and Wagyu Bowls, and that Tamagoyaki!
1757 W. Carson St.
Torrance, CA 90501
Tel: (310) 782-7356