Touring Torrance: Global Foodie Adventures All In One City
The Food Scene at Torrance & Redondo Beach is Alive and Well, and Worth the drive!
October 3, 2017
Last week ago, Edible Skinny was lucky enough to get to discover the world of Torrance, California, one bite at a time.
Uncrowded and welcoming, Torrance is a secret stash of rich local experiences waiting to be shared. 15 minutes from LAX, 1.5 miles of pristine beach, 2.7 million square feet of shopping bliss (most of it located the at the Del Amo Mall, the 5th largest mall in America!), and 14 hotels perfectly designed for any need. Torrance is stepping into the spotlight as the perfect destination for your SoCal adventures, and with 10 craft breweries and 400 plus eateries this includes noshing, munching, chomping and sipping!
The Perfect 2-Day Townhouse at the Residence Inn Los Angeles/Torrance/Redondo Beach
We started out our Torrance foodie adventure by checking in to the Residence Inn Los Angeles/Torrance/Redondo Beach. Perfect for Southern California business, leisure, or an extended-stay travelers, as their townhouse style suites offer a fully equipped kitchen including a full fridge, oven, stove, and dishwasher (for those who want to cook in, which totally wasn't us on this trip!). We instead chose to unwind in one of their spacious two-bedroom suites, featuring contemporary décor, complimentary Wi-Fi, and plush bedding (my bed was like sleeping on a cloud), and the perfect selfie lighting in the bathroom. Separate spaces for sleeping, relaxing, eating and working allowed us to spread out and kick back with ease. Plus the hotel's location was steps from upscale shopping and dining adventures at the Del Amo Fashion Center!
Fortune smiled on us as we happened to arrive on a Wednesday, allowing us to experience some break the ice drinks with The Residence Inn Mix in their newly renovated lobby area. These Monday through Wednesday evening socials provide an ideal setting for mingling with co-workers and other guests. Complimentary wine and beer helps lubricate the conversation, while local food trucks arrive for those looking for something to nosh on before dinnertime!
The Residence Inn Los Angeles/Torrance/Redondo Beach offers a range of amenities to keep you energized during your visit, from a brand new 24 hour fitness center and outdoor heated pool and whirlpool to a large patio with grills and a built-in fire pit. Other benefits include: complimentary daily breakfast buffet (more on that later), complimentary parking (a godsend in LA where we've spent almost $40 to park our vehicle overnight in Santa Monica), discounted room rate for longer stays, and no resort fees.
Both I and my traveling companion/producing partner Julia Reed Nichols have spent a lot of time on the road with our touring companies: Pin-Ups On Tour, Workin' The Tease, and The Green Light District, which means we know continental breakfasts. And we both agreed, this was one of the best continental breakfasts we've had. Along with the better continental breakfast staples of scrambled eggs, turkey sausage, and create your own waffles this Residence Inn offers additional choices such as tortillas, 3 different types of Greek yogurt, individual packets of Tapatio hot sauce, white rice, miso soup, and chopsticks. You might note that the last three items on that list are considered the breakfast of champions for those of Asian ethnicity. This is because the Residence Inn Los Angeles/Torrance/Redondo Beach caters to an internal crowd with Japanese newspapers, rice cookers and teapots available upon request for their Asian guests.
Taiwanese Delight with Din Tai Fung at the Del Amo Fashion Center
With Torrance being a foodie paradise we decided to taste our way through the city's diverse ethnic restaurants, and thus we sauntered over to the Taiwanese restaurant Din Tai Fung at the Del Amo Fashion Center.
Din Tai Fung was founded in Taipei, Taiwan in 1958 as a cooking oil retail shop. In 1972, it transitioned into a full-fledged restaurant specializing in soup dumplings and noodles. The restaurant was soon winning rave reviews from all over the world. In an article published on January 17, 1993, the New York Times rated Din Tai Fung as one of the top ten gourmet restaurants in the world (Din Tai Fung was the only Chinese or Taiwanese restaurant to receive this accolade). Further international recognition came in 2010, when Din Tai Fung's Hong Kong Branch was awarded one Michelin Star; a first for a restaurant from Taiwan. The tradition of Din Tai Fung continues today in its locations in the Taiwan, Japan, Singapore, South Korea, Australia, Indonesia, Malaysia, China, Thailand, and Torrance.
As we sipped on our Alexander Valley Vineyard wine, our server Rony explained that Din Tai Fung is a family style dining restaurant that encourages guests to order multiple choices for the table. Now, we had to get some dumplings since it is probably the thing that Din Tai Fung best known for (Forbes Magazine called them the "world's greatest dumplings"). The restaurant houses a glass enclosed kitchen on display to mall patrons; while we were dining there this space contained four different chefs crafting these dumpling delights. After debating their more than a dozen dumpling choices, Julia and I settled on Din Tai Fung's chicken dumplings. The 10 piece order was fashioned with succulent chicken meat, a droplet or two of soup, and a flawlessly textured wonton exterior. This was perfectly paired with Din Tai Fung's signature dipping sauce of fresh ginger, 3 parts vinegar, 1 part soy, and chili oil (for those who like the spice which is totally me!). This was by far my favorite dish of this meal!
But to be on the safe side, we (naturally) needed to sample a lot of other choices from the menu. This included the earthy appetizer: Wood Ear Mushrooms with Vinegar Dressing. Unfamiliar with this type of toadstool, the consistency of this dish was between a kelp like seaweed and a very wet mushroom. It was an experience to be had!
And of course we had to order some noodles, and some friend rice, practically everything on the menu... Julia fell in love with the Noodles with Sesame Sauce dish that housed a one-two punch of creaminess and spiciness. We also slurped up the Shrimp Fried Noodles (which was more soy based) and the Shrimp Fried Rice (which was lighter than expected). And just because we wanted to have a semblance of healthiness we ordered some Sautéed Broccoli with Garlic. This dish, a favorite of both Julia and myself, was super super green and super super fresh (in both the broccoli and garlic categories). It was, as they say, Ab Fab.
Aloha Spirt at King's Hawaiian Bakery
The next day we decided to partake in an Aloha baked goods breakfast from King's Hawaiian Bakery. King's Hawaiian, known for its sweet King's Hawaiian Bread since 1950, moved to Torrance in 1977 from Hilo, Hawaii. Their Bakery and Restaurant opened its doors on Sepulveda Boulevard in Torrance in 1988 and quickly became a landmark for Hawaiians living on the mainland. This family owned full-service bakery and restaurant serves a unique selection of Hawaiian local food and traditional American dishes along with fresh baked goods. Plus there's a giant pineapple in the middle of the restaurant! ;-)
Most people recognize King's Hawaiian Bakery for the iconic orange packaging used for its famous Hawaiian sweet dinner rolls (infamously Auh-Mazing at the Thanksgiving dinner table). This island tradition is baked with King's Hawaiian Bakery's signature blend of select milled flours, artisan yeasts and rich and creamy butter. Rich, fluffy and delicious these rolls are a classic treat that your entire Ohana will love. So of course we had to take home a package of rolls, for those of our household who couldn't make it on the Torrance trip. The result baked up so fluffy, moist and delicious, we could taste the Aloha inside.
Classic American on the Eastside at Local Kitchen Tavern
Our second night in Torrance we headed over to the East side of town for supper at the classically vintage inspired Local Kitchen Tavern. This restaurant's foodie philosophy embraces honest hospitality and warm dry sock feelings in a relaxed refined library style environment that evokes coming home after a long day's work. Their scratch kitchen delivers over 40 classic items ranging from appetizers, salads, soup, burgers, sandwiches, pastas, tacos, steaks, fish and many more all in Local Kitchen style.
Our adorable waiter Chris (donning a tightly tailored checkered suit vest) recommended with start the night off right with a Jalapeño Cucumber Margarita. It was the perfect choice as it was cool, festive, with just the right amount of heat. We paired it with an appetizer of Hendall's Calamari. Comprised of steak based calamari (no 3-ring circus here...) and dusted with seasoned panko bread crumbs this squid had a mozzarella stick like consistency that was sweetly tender. Finished with classic marinara and Sriracha aioli it was everything that great bar food aspires to be.
Before we ordered our entrées, our waiter Chris was replaced by another waiter... Chris. This one was also adorable, looking as he could be Ed Sheridan's stand on Game of Thrones. To celebrate we ordered a bottle of Justin and an entrée of Tavern Mac and Cheese. Made with Cavatappi Pasta (aka the curly cue pasta) and 4 Cheeses (Creamy Mozzarella, Parmesan, Romano, and Cheddar) and topped with Garlic Herb bread crumbs, the dish was the equivalent to your favorite flannel and slippers in winter (which is a good thing!). To pretend to be healthy (a pattern you might note), we ordered the "Big Newport" Wedge Salad. Classic wedge it screamed country club Nantucket (so make sure to wear your embroidered whale button down from J Crew). We finished with one more entrée, the Tuscan Sea Bass. Panko breaded this dish tasted like it had been caught 30 second before the chef put it on the grill.
We were there for two whole days, but still felt like we just scratched the surface of Torrance's foodie revolution. There's so many flavors and sites we still wanted to discover. Craft breweries such as Monkish Brewing Company and Smog City Brewing Company, The Jolly Oyster Market an oyster and clam store, some of the best ramen in LA (really bummed we missed this one), and LA Beer week (though this one is in mid-June, so we'll need to wait awhile). So if you're looking for an around the world culinary adventure maybe it's time you discovered Torrance.
Kat Thomas is the Editor in Chief of Edible Skinny, a site dedicated to making your life postcard worthy. She is also the CEO of the creative media company This Way Adventures. You can find more about both brands at http://www.thiswayadventures.com