What a fab discovery in Redondo Beach that is definitely worth a drive. Izakaya Bincho is a little hole-in-the wall on the pier that has great Japanese dishes.
It was around 8:00 when we sauntered in. Parking was easy; there were plenty of empty spots at the large, public lot. The pier was pretty quiet, as was the restaurant. There were 4 people in the place, all Japanese men that looked like they were in their 30s. Two were sitting at a booth, one on a bar stool. The owner was behind the small counter that stretched one side of the tiny restaurant, chatting with everyone in Japanese, a good sign of an authentic restaurant.
We were seated and handed 2 menus, the regular one and the specials of the day, a sheet of paper handwritten in blue ball point ink, a cute detail demonstrating the intimacy of the place. Even though the owner spoke little English, he was friendly and provided great service. I asked about a few dishes, some he recommended, a few he suggested that we should not order, by saying "uh-uh" and shaking his head. I'm guessing they were out of them.
The homemade Ricotta cheese tofu was absolutely divine. From his little English I understood him to say that he was the one that makes the dish. Made with soy, Ricotta, soy sauce and gelatin, it was like a silky custard served like a scoop of ice cream with a slightly grainy texture of Ricotta. That dish alone makes this a place definitely worth returning.
We also ate small, light meatballs served in a Tsykyne Mizore sauce. The radish was OK, the meatballs delish, as were the fried chicken wings, 3 in all, spicy with a zing of spice to them. The roasted Ginko nuts were served beautifully on a bed of salt. I'd never tried them before; I don't think I'd like them anywhere. The taste and texture was odd. It looked like a miniature, yellow grape that had the skin of a fruit but the interior of a soggy nut.