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Japanese recommendation (udon, ramen, tonkatsu, etc) in Torrence

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kthan Jun 10, 2009 08:58 AM

I am heading to LA tomorrow and looking for a good authentic Japanese option in LA. I heard Torrence area would
be the right place, but couldn't decide which one to go. So far, I found these two spots: Kotohira, and Sanuki no San.

My preference is to find a place that can serve better udon, ramen, tonkatsu and other dishes in one place. If not, I guess have to choose either udon or ramen. For reference, I ate santoka ramen in chicago but was not impressed (too authentic...didn't like strong pork smell...). This is for lunch. I appreciate your kindly help in advance.

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    annapurna7 RE: kthan Jun 10, 2009 10:41 AM

    If you want a one stop shop, head to the Mitsuwa Marketplace food court in Torrance. Santouka is there for good ramen, but there are other options available to you that might be more up your alley. I have gotten some decent udon from there but I can't remember the name of the shop. You can get curry, japanese-italian, sushi and tonkatsu as well.

    1. OCAnn RE: kthan Jun 10, 2009 10:44 AM

      I think you mean Sanuki no Sato...and that would fit the bill. I've always enjoyed my meals there. Nice menu with simple flavours done well.

      -----
      Sanuki No Sato
      18206 S Western Ave, Gardena, CA 90248

      1 Reply
      1. re: OCAnn
        k
        kainzero RE: OCAnn Jun 10, 2009 01:05 PM

        If you go to Sanuki no Sato for Udon, you can go next door to Asa Ramen for Ramen (and takoyaki!), although they are only open after 5pm. Then swing by the Japanese-style bakery and pick up a cake. And Sen Nari Sushi is also in that same plaza.

      2. Servorg RE: kthan Jun 10, 2009 11:06 AM

        Here is review that you'll want to read, and which may help you make a decision on where to go.

        http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/602793

        1 Reply
        1. re: Servorg
          OCAnn RE: Servorg Jun 10, 2009 11:25 AM

          I think the OP is looking for lunch & I believe Torihei is only open for dinner....

        2. o
          Ogawak RE: kthan Jun 10, 2009 02:16 PM

          I cannot tell you whether Kotohira or Sanuki No Sato has the better udon, since I've never tried SNS, but Kotohira has wonderful combinations for lunch. I particularly enjoyed my udon with a wonderful broiled saba(Japanese mackeral). My brother liked their unagi(river eel)/udon combo.

          1. m
            mrhooks RE: kthan Jun 10, 2009 04:13 PM

            I honestly can't think of any places off the top of my head that do both udon and ramen - the best Japanese restaurants tend to specialize - let alone one place which does both well, plus tonkatsu and other dishes. Although if your criteria for good ramen includes NOT being too authentic, then it might be easier. Although you said you didn't like Santouka, the food court at Mitsuwa Marketplace is the easy choice, as suggested by annapurna7. Santouka for ramen, Mifune for udon and soba, and Katsuhana for tonkatsu are all good, plus Curry House, Italian Tomato, Miyabi-Tei, et al.

            I'm not a big fan of udon, and haven't tried either of the places you mentioned, so I can't be of any help there. The best lunchtime options for ramen are Santouka, Shin Sen Gumi, and Gardena Ramen. Asa is my favorite ramen place, but it's open 6pm-2am only.

            1. h
              huaqiao RE: kthan Jun 10, 2009 04:58 PM

              I've had one of the lunch sets at Sanuki no Sato that had both tonkatsu and a small bowl of udon and it was very good, if a bit pricey. Some of their sets are over $20, but it's a LOT of food. I don't eat much udon, but I've read in various places that SnS is supposed to have pretty good udon.

              They get pretty crowded at lunch and there might not be any free spaces in the parking lot of that strip mall, so that might be an issue.

              1. b
                bulavinaka RE: kthan Jun 10, 2009 09:54 PM

                As others have mentioned on this board, if you're looking for the best rendition of a particular dish, go to the specialists. Torrance has many places that specialize in this or that. They are very good at what they do - Ichimiann for soba, Komatsu for tempura, Asa for ramen, Kotohira for udon, Torihei for yaki and oden, Musha for more contemporary izakaya, and Ikazaya Bincho (actually at the Redondo Beach Pier) for more traditional izakaya. If you're looking for one place that does it all, Sanuki no Sato is a good start. They're huge by Japanese restaurant standards, and turnover is high enough to where you won't wait very long even at prime time. Their menu is vast, they do most things at a very acceptable level, and the service is very good - they even have tatami rooms for effect, but there's no guarantee for true privacy. You're only a paper's width of separation from your neighbors. :) However, if I were to pick one place that does does a lot of things very well, I'd choose I-naba on Hawthorne near Torrance Blvd. Their menu isn't as vast as Sanuki no Sato, and I think it is because they know their limitations. They are probably a fifth the size of Sanuki no Sato, so the mood is far less raucous, the service is very good and attentive, and the kitchen takes serious pride even when one considers the fact that they technically are more generalist in nature. They do have separate sushi and tempura bars, their soba is from the well-reputed Ichimiann (their sister restaurant), and their tonkatsu is perfectly prepared. The only problem is I don't know if they're open for lunch...

                http://www.restaurantinaba.com/

                2 Replies
                1. re: bulavinaka
                  mstinawu RE: bulavinaka Apr 2, 2010 04:42 PM

                  I-Naba is a great lunch place--good, fast lunch specials at reasonable (for Japanese food) prices.

                  1. re: mstinawu
                    b
                    bulavinaka RE: mstinawu Apr 2, 2010 05:55 PM

                    Thank you for the lunch info. We often find ourselves in Torrance around lunch time, and four tongues each want something different.

                2. c
                  Cinnamon RE: kthan Jun 12, 2009 08:01 PM

                  I went to Kotohira tonight and was the only Caucasian - they had plenty of Japanese business early. They hand-make their udon, but not the soba they also serve. They had amazing iced oolong tea - I would love to know what brand or varietal they used - definitely the best oolong I've ever had.

                  I thought the udon was good but it didn't send me over the moon. I ate more udon in NYC and Connecticut (hey, it's colder there), and lucked into some fabulous places.

                  5 Replies
                  1. re: Cinnamon
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                    another_adam RE: Cinnamon Jun 13, 2009 07:07 PM

                    I'm a big Kotohira fan, though since I've moved to the Northeast (where I *haven't* found good udon, unfortunately) I haven't been back much since they came under new managership a while back. However, on a visit over the winter, we did get shoyu udon that was every bit as good as in the past-- so maybe you just hit them on an off day? (which we have also encountered there from time to time, particularly when they're busy). In my opinion, the amazingness of Kotohira is partly from the chewy elasticity of the noodles, and partly also from the simple perfect flavor combination of the shoyu udon. We like Sanuki no Sato, too, but for taste and atmosphere, I'm still a die-hard Kotohira fan :)

                    1. re: another_adam
                      c
                      Cinnamon RE: another_adam Jun 14, 2009 10:23 AM

                      Hey, I would go back for the iced tea alone. Grateful to anyone who happens to elicit the brand name or type of oolong they use. :)

                      1. re: Cinnamon
                        a
                        another_adam RE: Cinnamon Jun 14, 2009 10:31 AM

                        Every time I've gone, they've given us mugi-cha (barley tea). Did you specially order something different? If not, you might try out barley teas. It comes in two forms: loose roasted barley, or large teabags to make pitchers of it. The loose ones can be tastier and more deluxe, but even the relatively cheap kinds can be quite good and refreshing. (It's a subtle tea, and differences aren't that huge.) I'd start with a cheap kind like Shirakiku and see if it's along the lines of what you had, you can experiment with fancier brands.

                        1. re: another_adam
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                          Cinnamon RE: another_adam Jun 14, 2009 12:19 PM

                          Thanks, will give that a try. They described it as oolong, but there was that toastiness present.

                          1. re: another_adam
                            liu RE: another_adam Apr 2, 2010 07:48 PM

                            another adam -- I'm pretty serious about tea, and I think your advice is quite good!
                            For iced barley tea that I can sip without the caffeine concerns, I toss a bag of the roasted Shirakiku into a pitcher of cold water. Let it steep in the fridge for a couple of hours and then toss the bag. It is a wonderful summertime refresher!

                            Play with the steeping time. If you like just a hint of flavor, then don't let the bag soak in the water for more than a couple of hours. If you prefer a deeper taste, let the barley bag soak for perhaps four or five hours. If it soaks for too long, the tea takes on a coffee flavor, which I don't care for.

                            You can buy these roasted barley bags in almost any Asian market and Shirakiku is good. I think a pack of 52 costs only a few dollars.

                    2. burumun RE: kthan Jun 14, 2009 10:56 AM

                      I like Hakata Ramen Shinsengumi for ramen.
                      Ichimiann for Soba.

                      If you're doing dinner Torihei for oden is awesome.

                      --burumun
                      http://gourmetpigs.net

                      1. mstinawu RE: kthan Apr 2, 2010 04:43 PM

                        Otafuku for udon and the special seiro! I've been going there for years--go for dinner and they've got a bunch of izakaya dishes too. I haven't disliked a thing I've ordered there.

                        -----
                        Otafuku
                        16525 S Western Ave, Gardena, CA

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