More comfortable homestyle Japanese, please
11617 Santa Monica Blvd. (west of the 405)
Phone: 310-477-9423 | map
Around Santa Monica Blvd. and Federal is a busy restaurant row. Hidden among the eateries is this tiny, barely-lit sake house, a homely wooden izakaya oasis with a very local essence. Its menus are taped in an awesomely low-tech fashion to cardboard halves of sake boxes. The black-clad waitstaff is comfortingly helpful, pointing out their own favorites and answering questions. They will tear off strips of paper with your order and hand them to one of the three men behind the counter: a sushi/sashimi chef, the guy doing grillwork, and the bespectacled gentleman who is talented with the tempura and the yaki grill.
The dishes are small, many, and varied. The goma-ae is simple--ropes of sautéed spinach in a sesame dressing--but elegant and tangy. The tempura at Terried is subtle, dropped for two minutes then plucked from the oil with a perfect glaze of crunch; the fish cake tempura is gentle and thought-provoking.
I've yet to go through the array of yakitori choices (think chicken livers and hearts along with the usual); the dango yakitori is not my favorite, being a bit bland, but the chicken breast is dripping and tender. (Meat + Stick) / Coals == Beauty.
The ume broiled rice ball is a comforting, triangular brick of rice wrapped around a shining red interior, slightly sour with an amazing scent. The tara kasu (black cod) has blackened splinters of bone jutting from it, but once you navigate around those, the cod is luscious, composed of tiny pale slabs of delicately cooked fish.
For us, the tofu steak is king: bricks of bean curd on sizzling iron, blanketed by soft, liquified, only-the-Japanese-can-do-this egg that has melted inseparably onto the tofu. Bonito flakes are layered atop, wisping and curling into mysterious shapes from the heat. Next to us is a middle-aged Japanese gentleman with an impressive waterfall of white beard, leafing through sportfishing catalogues; he also orders the tofu steak, and shakes generous amounts of Tapatio hot sauce over it.
The sashimi is passingly good, some cuts better than others; the tuna is cut thick into slabs and is a bit stubborn, but the hamachi (Yellowtail) and albacore melt properly on the tongue. The sake list is, despite Terried's name, fairly brief, but has good choices.
The Terried logo is not, I'm led to understand, a stylized squid or octopus, but a chicken's head. This is supported by the cartoon taped to the front door of a chicken who is obviously the gentleman on the yaki grill, paper hat and all. It makes the place all the more comfortable.
There is an area in back that might be considered a parking lot, in that four vehicles can fit into it; otherwise avoid the treacherously potholed alleyway and find something on Santa Monica.
Update: Terried has closed, after twenty-five years of being small and awesome. This depresses me, because I want tofu steak, and like right now.
( Categories: Cuisines (by Region), Japanese, West Side/West Hollywood, Diner, Santa Monica/Culver City )
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