Name of restaurant: BamBiBu
Concept: Hole-in-the-wall ramen shop with fatty chashu in every bowl. It's a homey, casual spot with a short menu built around ramen, gyoza, and a few meal sets. Less specifically geared toward Japanese speakers and salarymen than other ramen joints in the South Bay.
What dish represents the restaurant, and why? The spicy miso ramen, which features tonkotsu broth rendered a bright, rich orange with the addition of spicy miso paste. You can ask for thin noodles, but the default thick ramen is beautifully done – it's springy and chewy, and it takes well to its dunk in broth. The soup is wonderful, with that milky silky pork fat texture; the miso adds a level of spice that satisfies without inducing sweats. The bowl comes topped with chopped green onion, crispy onion flakes and two large pieces of chashu pork that almost melt into the broth. For some extra cash, you can add a flavored egg, or a mound of blue crab, or whatever else suits your fancy.
Runner ups: The tsukemen is worth comparing to Tsujita, and people don't tend to queue for ramen in Redondo Beach. The gyoza features ground Berkshire pork and delicate chewy skins, fried until just golden-brown. Should you desire a reprieve from pork, the chicken karaage might fit your needs – it's Japanese fried chicken, juicy dark meat tinged with ginger, garlic and soy sauce.
Who's at the next table? Two mothers and two young daughters enjoy a weekday lunch before summer runs away.
Appropriate for: An easy meal with family or friends. Great for casual outings with romantic interests, less ideal for dates.
Uh-oh: It's in an almost desolate lot in a bland part of Redondo Beach – as the take-out menu exclaims, "Right next to Albertsons and across from Chase Bank!" The interior is humble but charming, like a spruced-up dorm room, decked out with cheerful origami.
Service: Young waitress Tiffany is sweet, friendly and attentive. Food comes out fast – you can eat here on your lunch break if you work at Albertsons or Chase Bank.
What are you drinking? A traditional can of cold Diet Coke.
Info: BamBiBu, 1550 S. Pacific Coast Hwy, Redondo Beach, (310) 540-5288, https://www.facebook.com/bambibu1550.