11330 Santa Monica Blvd.
West LA, CA

Our friend Ilene first took my husband and me to this restaurant six years ago. It was a Tuesday and we loved it so much that I insisted on returning on Thursday. While not fancy, Nanbankan is a near perfect dining experience for me — the food is consistently excellent, the atmosphere very comfortable and you are greeted by the paternal owner who makes you feel like you’ve entered his home.

And though the food from the kitchen is yummy, you go for the unique meal of skewers of meats, seafood and vegetables that are cooked over a large charcoal grill that sits in the middle of the restaurant. We love to eat at the bar which provides a front row view of these masters of yakitori which are served off the grill piping hot.

I’ve brought lots of friends who love to cook and they have all been amazed with some of these menu recommendations: chicken wings, burdock with pork, lamb with garlic, chilean sea bass, yaki onigiri (grilled rice balls with your choice of salmon, spicy cod roe or pickled plum inside), chicken meatballs. Great for a date or take the family. Our girls who are both under the age of five love it too.

Re: Nanbankan

I want to second this recommendation. I too took my children who adored it (even my 14-month old daughter chomped away with delight on tofu and chicken). Among my favorites are pork belly, sausage, lamb chops and chicken wings.

Re: Nanbankan

I couldn’t agree more. One of the reasons I love eating here is that they serve up flavors I have yet been able to copy at home. Something as simple as their grilled chicken wings are beyond compare despite my best efforts to replicate them at home. I have even attempted the Yaki Onigari - grilled rice balls- at home. (That by the way was a complete disaster.) One of the pleasures of Nanbankan is knowing that every time I go I am going to get a better meal than I get at home.

Re: Nanbankan

Andrew, I think you have hit a home run here with a critical point you make about restaurants in general. For me what I expect from a restaurant is food that I simply couldn’t do at home, or at least couldn’t do half as well. This is my general rule of thumb for deciding what makes a good restaurant.

I will definitely try this restaurant on the back of the recommendation and comments that have followed it.

Re: Nanbankan

I love Nanbankan! It’s one of my favorite restaurants. I try and try to replicate some of the their dishes at home and can’t come close. They take simple things like chicken wings, grilled rice balls, and the lamb chop to new heights. Nothing fancy — but everything excellent.

Oh and did I mention the lamb chop? It’s got my vote for best in LA. This is a place where a cook can go and enjoy a meal.