The Standing Room, a small burger and sandwich joint tucked in the back of Catalina Liquor is just the kind of diamond in the rough that foodies love. Chef Taeyoung “T.K.” Kim brings his Hawaiian heritage and a little Korean soul to play in what is stereotypical American food. According to the clips on the wall, Kim cut his teeth with the likes of Roy Yamaguchi and Nobu before coming home to Redondo Beach.
The Naked and Classic Burgers are designed for the traditionalists. Some of the more adventurous burgers feature Bleu cheese, Smoked Gouda, Tomato jam, Shisito peppers, Kimchee, Hoison BBQ sauce and Korean aioli. If you are really looking to go all the way, you can order a burger topped with bulgogi or short rib. My personal favorite is the massive tower known as the “Napoleon.” The 1/2 pound medium-cooked patty is topped with bacon, caramelized onion, Smoked Gouda, Cheddar, American Cheese, Fried egg, Spring mix, and Braised short rib, served with Truffle Parmesan fries. The saltiness of the Parmesan on the fries balances perfectly with the densely umami truffle.
Other menu items include various fries, shisito peppers, edamame, a quesedilla (The K-dilla) and a variety of sandwiches that include soft-shelled crab, salmon, tofu, bulgogi, pulled pork carnitas, and an addictive short rib sandwich dubbed “The Shortie.” There are plates of fried chicken, short rib, salmon and pork belly with a scoop of rice, fried brussel sprouts and a side salad.
Just in time for the 4th of July weekend, The Standing Room opened a second location on Hermosa Avenue just north of Pier Ave identifiable only by its signature pig on the facade. The room is enormous compared to the original, with comfortable wooden booths and flat-screen TVs showing the World Cup. It is literally brick and mortar, with lots of wood. There is a cozy patio for people-watching and enjoying the cool sea breezes. The menu has expanded to include salads and starters.
The usual favorites are still there, although the pork belly has morphed into the less cheffy pork chop. It is definitely a more comfortable setting for enjoying the plates, and the fried chicken is mind-blowing. Boneless chicken breast is as moist as I think is possible, with a crackling, crispy fried skin. Definitely a winner. The fried brussel sprouts with habanero cream sauce were prepared to remove any cabbage flavor, and the side salad has a distinctive Asian house-made dressing.
The wine and beer lists were well-selected with a wide variety including some locals. The expansive bar even stocks Japanese Whiskeys, which are much more delicate and less peaty than the usual dram. There is also live music starting at 9:30p.m. most nights.
There were a few rookie mistakes, like impossibly chewy gizzards and potatoes that were hard in the middle, but we assume that with the kitchen skills we have seen so far, little slip-ups will soon be corrected. Manhattan Beach was just voted foodiest beach by GQ magazine, but they have some serious competition as Hermosa steps it up.