Once a dining desert, Manhattan Beach is now flooded with primo eating options. A lingering dry spot has been the Japanese food scene, but with Akatora, Michael Cardenas is intent on changing that. The Sushi Roku founder and former Matsuhisa GM (as well as Lazy Ox Canteen owner) has transformed the struggling Katsu Sushi into this funky izakaya. The original chef, Katsu, is still on board, executing a menu of creative sashimi (think Nobu’s tiraditos) and bar bites like Kobe beef corndogs. The sushi is ho-hum, but the fish quality is good, the prices are fair (especially at happy hour), and judging by the shouts of “Kanpai!,” the locals dig it.