Interesting article. Coincidentally, my favorite, must visit several times, place to eat in the LA area is Kantaro Sushi, 1542 Carson Blvd., in beautiful Torrance
. I was staying at the Hilton in Long Beach about 8 years ago and there was a group of Japanese business men waiting on a cab. I asked them where they were going to dinner and they said "Kantaro, real Japanese. Come with us?"
These guys didn't speak alot of english and I don't speak japanese past "arigato and konichywa" but I ended up both finding a great place to eat and a learned a whole lot about sushi, fish, japanese dining, and the bizarreness of japanese game shows (they run video tapes all the time and I had never imagined the staid japanese would watch some of the things on these tapes for fun, but they do, constantly). THe common language at that meal was "unngghhh, good, more?, sake? beer? mmmm, more".
The food is wonderful, the clientelle is primarily Japanese (from Japan). I have seen lots of JAL crews in there and steady stream of "salarymen" scarfing monkfish and squid, gorgeous tuna, and washing it down with copious amounts of Sake (suprisingly, many of these guys like a number of the California brands)
As I have stated before, I believe the following "The quality of an oriental restaurant and and the quality of the strip mall it is located in is almost always inversely proportional". That is to say that some of the best places I have ever eaten Japanese or Chinese or Thai food have involved places tucked in between oriental markets, laundromats (Kantaro is next to one), and check cashing places, and porn shops. I think the reason for this is that these places are mostly family run and the proprietors are depending on the quality of their food and word of mouth to carry them, not location or advertising or great reviews in Gourmet. You know, come to think of it, that is a pretty good way to define roadfood (as I understand it) as well.