In 2014, Star Chefs named Atsushi Takatsuki one of LA’s Rising Stars. At that time he was Chef de Cuisine at MB Post in Manhattan Beach. Since then, he decided to give back to the community where he was raised. After three years of planning, he opened up Painter’s Tape in Gardena.
Painter’s Tape is an homage to his family which once operated a painting company. Takatsuki decided to name his restaurant Painter’s Tape and the interior reflects his previous family business. The blue is the same color as 3M ScotchBlue painter’s tape. The light fixtures are a combination of empty paint cans and paint rollers. Even the chairs have circular cutouts painted ScotchBlue.
The first thing you will notice is that Painter’s Tape lacks servers. Fortunately, the staff is used to seeing people come in for their first time not knowing what to do and provides immediate assistance. A huge chalkboard menu is mounted on the wall. Similar to the way that nigiri sushi is ordered, customers use a pencil and mark the items they wish to purchase. Fortunately, photos exist for most of their items.
After placing the order, diners need to make their way to a self-service station to pick up their utensils and napkins. This also includes small shareable plates – this is a nice touch if you like to order food to be shared. Ice water flavored with fresh lemon is also on this station.
When I see Texas Toast I think it should be paired with Texas BBQ or Texas chili. Seeing that listed as a breakfast as French Toast seemed like an oxymoron; something I envision pairing with Texas BBQ or – honey condensed milk – I really enjoyed the finish on the toast and the delicious topping. As you can see, the chef had some fun with the design.
Kare pan is a popular street food item in Japan. Painter’s Tape varies a bit from that stuffing cheddar cheese and Japanese curry into a donut. For me, this was a disappointment because I expected to taste the curry. On the other hand, cheddar cheese lovers will enjoy this gooey item.
Takatsuki pays equal attention to the vegetable-based offerings. I thought the cauliflower was a nice offering. It was both salty and sweet. The sweetness was provided by golden raisins and sweet walnuts. Quinoa cereal gave this a slightly crunchy texture.
Cabbage salad on a South Bay restaurant menu is usually the Hawaiian version made with uncooked ramen noodles. I was delighted to experience an original cabbage salad made with cucumber, tomato, mint, cilantro, Thai chiles and sesame. Since the ingredients were julienned, each bite of the salad was a combination of delicious flavors.
While there are many other items on the menu to try, the Pepper Fried Chicken Bun is my favorite so far. The fried chicken breast had a nice crunchy exterior and was moist inside. The honey mustard dressing nicely complimented the chicken.
The beverage list isn’t large, but it’s quite thoughtful. In addition to their drip coffee, they also offer a nitro cold brew, iced tea, Mexican coke, housemade agua frescas and a yuzu lemonade. Adult beverages include White Rascal, an unfiltered Belgian white, and Anthem Apple cider – both from a tap. They brew and serve Espresso Republic coffee which I thought was extremely smooth.
Painter’s Tape delivers on its mission and it appears to fit in well with the community. Items are affordably priced yet innovatively prepared for the foodie. For example, the Texas Toast is only $3. During the times that I’ve been there, I’ve observed at least three generations of people dining there. Younger people holding cell phones and older Japanese Americans gathering there to catch up on the daily happenings. Seeing this, Takatsuki successfully delivered on his goal.
Painter’s Tape, 1725 W Redondo Beach Blvd, Gardena, CA 90247; 310.353.3780