6/1/99 - These are my comments on the "South Bay's Best, 1999, Daily Breeze, 8th Annual Readers Poll" which appeared as a supplement in the 3/25/99 issue. Some of these places I haven't tried for years, and usually only for lunch or brunch. Do follow along in the paper cause I'm not going to repeat all the winners, their locations, details, etc. It is curious that in most cases I have tried the first-place establishments, so some other factor such as location or exposure rather than quality may be involved. Or, as I said in the 1/30/99 Newspaper Flash, any company could win by sending in a few hundred votes. They do not state how many votes anyone received.
Bakery - First place Torrance Bakery was ok.
Pizza - First place Pizza Hut was ok for thin-crust pizza at the lunch buffet, but I wouldn't order a whole pizza. Actually, no one west of New Jersey knows how to make good, thin-crust pizza. *For $3.95 at the lunch buffet it's ok, and do get the buy-five-buffets-get-one-free card*. *About 5/99 the buffet price went to $4.49 and the "thin" crust got thicker. *My next buffet is free (the sixth one), and I may not go again after that.
Deli - Third place Guiliano's was ok. I used to think they were overpriced, but others are catching up. The original store in Gardena is associated in name only.
Mexican - I like the half chicken and half beef fajitas, chile verde, and salsa and chips, on a good day, at first place La Capilla. Check the Extra newspaper for coupons. I've eated once at the second place El Paso Cantina and never returned except for free appetizers which were ok.
Salad Bar - First place Souplantation has good salads, ok soup, poor pasta and pizza, and ok other stuff. Third place Sizzler has ok to poor items, a limited selection, and I think of it as kid's food. Think of both places as a snack and, since items vary on a daily basis, only go on days when you like all the items. Also, I only go when I have a coupon from the newspapers.
Sunday Brunch- First place Charley Brown's is ok for a place with a view, but I don't care for that many breakfast items. Do ask about their early bird special. To pig out on many meat dishes I prefer the Alpine Village which wasn't mentioned. Or even El Torito Grill for the $2.00 off early bird.
Indian - The first and third place Kabob Curry and Delhi Palace restaurants do good buffets, but for the buffet at Invitation to India, I'd only go to the one on PCH in Torrance. I uses to say that unmentioned Chicken Madras had the best buffet, but I've tried most of the Indian buffets in the South Bay and they're all good values. But, I would not return to the one on Gaffey in San Pedro.
Books - First place Borders does have the largest selection and the best bargain books. I never ate there.
Flea Market - I didn't like the first place Roadium cause it's all new stuff, and I didn't see any bargains. I wouldn't go again, but if you do, get a free coupon from the local paper. Second place Torrance Antique is new, and I haven't seen it. I used to walk around third place Alpine Village for the exercize, for free. They do have some good used stuff, but now it costs a $1.00 to get in.
Seafood - Third place South Bay Grill was ok.
Chinese - First place Szechwan on Hawthorne puts out interesting lunch specials, except for two problems. One day I complained to the manager about the soup. He let my try all four of their lunch soups, and they were all bad and have been everytime I returned. Also one day I ordered the orange chicken and it was so far beyond jerky that I couldn't chew it with my own teeth. They did let me exchange it for a whole fish which was good. Several other dishes have been unsatisfactory. Summary: expect bad soup and be prepared to send back an unsatisfactory dish. Second place Tea House was ok, with a nice decor. But, years ago a worker suggested they didn't cook all the food there.
I've tried the following places in the last week or two, around April 1999. I want the third place Szechwan on PCH in Lomita to be my favorite, but they keep screwing up. For the last few years the rice has been overcooked and wet for my taste. Badly cooked rice is a sin in Chinese cuisine. Last week I ordered the Beef A La Szechwan #29, and it was a pale initation of their original dish. The waiter was awful, and the tip was more for the bus boy. Their lunch specials are among the most expensive, and the specials which were whole fish are no longer.
I enjoy many of the Chinese restaurants in the South Bay; it just depends on the waiter, chef, and ingredients you get that day -- like any other restaurant. My current favorite may be the Regal Palace on PCH in Lomita, but they don't have a whole-fish lunch special, and my last waiter didn't even know which three ingredients were in the three-ingredient dish. I've had a good whole-fish lunch special: #41 at Ocean Paradise in Lomita and #88 at the new Seafood Port in Torrance. Seafood Port was 10% off or 15% off with a coupon from the local paper.
*There are six five Chinese buffets in the South Bay. See that page for reviews*.
Thai - They're all similar, at least for lunch, in that they serve small portions. Of the three, I'd only return to Thai Thani for lunch. For a lunch buffet I'd like to mention Thai Tiffany on PCH in Lomita on a day when they have Tom Kha Kai (soup), pork ribs, a good health grade, and a friendly staff. Good Luck.
Happy Hour - The first place El Paso Cantina was good a few years ago when the had free appetizers and $1.00 drinks during Monday-night football. It was a good deal.
Burger - The first place In-N-Out Burger was ok for a fast-food burger.
Special Occasion Restaurant - Second place Chart House was good cause I didn't pay. I didn't care for the caviar, but what can you expect from the salad bar.
Grocery Stores - I've tried the first and third place Vons and Ralphs, but I don't remember anything remarkable. That may require more use.
The * marks new items.