The front of Gaja located at 2383 Lomita Blvd. Lomita, CA 90717. They can get pretty packed. Luckily they have a flat screen TV with Japanese entertainment for all those waiting out in the parking out.
So a few days ago, our friend and Japanese lover extraordinaire Berto who runs his own Asian American pop culture blog that covers food, games electronics, anime, etc. informed us that he had finally found a "real" okonomiyaki place that we just had to try. In fact it was so good that despite having been there the night before, he was willing to take one for the team go again the very next day with us. What a trooper! Behold, the greatness known as Gaja Japanese Restaurant! Because Berto waited over an hour and 45 minutes the night before, we ended up waiting and getting there at 11 at night, which was a good idea. It wasn't packed. It's open until 12! Great for us late night food lovers. On a side note, the pictures from this post will be a combination of mine and Berto's from his blog at TofuProd because he had an really good camera with him!
Here's a waiter cleaning the grill! Amazing! It's like Korean BBQ, but better! So here's an introduction... Okonomiyaki is basically a Japanese pancake that has a bunch of different ingredients inside. Toppings and batters vary depending on what region the okonomiyaki is from. This place had fun written all over it since we got to cook and decorate everything ourselves.
What was most impressive about this place (almost more than the food) was their menu. It was seriously as thick as an encyclopedia! The pages never ended and they were neatly organized with colored tabs & dividers. It was like a flashback to my high school days! I loved it! I love food. You don't understand. I like to take picture menus home and fantasize about meals when I can't eat them. Yes, that's what got me through college when I had to eat dorm food. I happened to come to Gaja's with 4 guys so it's obvious what the first thing they wanted to order was...
I was really entertained by the cups being iced... but apparently that's how it's supposed to be. Whatever... it was 11Pm at night. Hot tea sounded way better for me.
Ah and here's where the fun begins! Your bowl of ingredients is brought out and it's time for cooking. They actually have a direction guide on how to make the okonmiyaki in case you are confused. So as you can tell from the photo, cook the meat separately and then proceed to make the pancake. Make one layer for the top and then place the meat inside and make the other side. Then you continue to flip it until everything is cooked and crunchy! Yum! Playing with your food is rewarding.
It should look like this once you are done making the sides and stuffing the meat inside.
After that comes even more fun! Box 1 is us covering our pancakes with mayo. Then the next 2 boxes are us adding extra seasoning. Pay attention to Box 3. Those are delicious Okaka Fish Flakes. Those are the things they put atop of Americanized Sushi rolls like BSCR or the Dynamite rolls where you see them moving because of the heat generate from the sushi below it. The waiters are Gaja had to refill the containers of Okaka for our table twice mainly because I ate all of it. I can eat fish flakes plain because they are so good. Yum! It was actually kind of embarrassing because of how much of the flakes I ate. I'm this itty bitty girl and I down 3 whole containers of fish flakes. Yeah...
As you can see, the designs got better and more creative as we kept eating. Left pancake is an elephant and the right is a happy face. We had 5 people in our group. We ordered 3 pancakes all in different flavors. All of them were delicious in their own ways. I have to say that the curry one stood out though.
Here's our order of Takoyaki aka fried octopus balls. Yummy!
We were so full but then it came time for dessert. Box 1 is my manly order of green tea shaved ice with sweet bean. It came out in a huge measuring cup! Look how big it is compared to me (Box 2). Box 3 is the boyfriend smiling from the amazing flavor of the Melon Parfait. He described the taste as "the taste of mother's sweet love" and also didn't offer to share any of his dessert. I had to grab a bite of the melon popsicles on my own. He didn't share anything else. Box 4 is a candid shot of Ken finding out his Calpico falvored parfait comes with heart shaped Calpico ices.
Here's a close up of Ken's Parfait. If you look between the two sticks you can see the double hearts. Inside basically was like a fruit cocktail with ice & a sprinkle of cornflakes. The cornflakes give the ice some nice texture. Oh by the way, Calpico is a really good Asian drink you can find at many Asian markets! Ken's parfait didn't come with the melon popsicles that Jeff's did but it was also really good. I can't decide what dessert to get next time I go. I like to plan food trips in my head.
Gaja was seriously an amazing meal. You can check out their website here. Just look at their awesome online menu if you are bored. That's my favorite hobby! Also, mucho gracis to Berto for the recommendation and for letting me use some of his pictures. I loved it. I would definitely take my friends & family back here. It's a fun time to play with your food and have it taste good too. Only con for me is that it's all the way in Torrance. I would recommend going later at night so that you don't hit traffic and also so that you don't have to wait to get seated.
Happy cooking, playing, and eatings!
I hope you will have as good of a time as we did here at Gaja! Definitely go check it out.