Taiko is right in the middle of the trendy El Segundo location that includes the new ArcLight theaters, PF Chang's, and McCormick and Schmick's. So we might not expect to find high quality, authentic Japanese food at Taiko, but something more along the lines of Americanized Japansese food. In this case, our assumptions would be wrong. Taiko serves up a variety of authentic Japanese cuisine right in the middle of more mainstream corporate faire.
Taiko has the traditional sushi bar with about 8 seats, an indoor dining area, and an outdoor dining area that is covered and has propane heaters if needed. In addition to sushi, you can order many different rice bowls (dons), various kinds of soba and udon (hot or cold), and traditional Japanese entrees. They also offer a number of a la carte dishes (ippin ryori) for appetizers.
Some of the dishes can be expensive, but they also offer some fairly inexpensive options as well. One of my favorite appetizers is the wild mushrooms, which is $12. This is a bit steep for an appetizer, but the variety and quality of the mushrooms are so good and the yuzu ponzu sauce completes an ideal dish for a great start to the meal. I like to order the sashimi combination as an entree, which is only $12 itself. This combination comes with two pieces of salmon, two small pieces of scallop, and three modest pieces of tuna. It also includes a side salad and a fairly large bowl of udon (or soba). So you can order some pricey, exotic appetizers and entrees or you can order some more reasonable and standard combinations. It is nice to have both options.
The service is helpful and unobtrusive, but the restaurant can get quite busy at lunch time during the week and at dinner time on the weekends. You might even run into a celebrity here, since it is so close to the Manhattan Studios. I once sat at the table over from Lucy Liu, although I didn't recognize her and someone had to point it out.
If you are going to the movies at the ArcLight, Taiko is a great option for some unique and authentic Japanese food as an alternative to the more mainstream options in the area.
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