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Sanuki No Sato in Gardena - review

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  • Hailyn Oct 4, 2005 08:05 PM

I just had lunch at Sanuki No Sato, at the corner of Western and 182nd. They make fabulous soba and udon and have a number of lunch combiations. I had the Sanuki bento, which was huge and comes with a small udon; a fabulously silky chawan mushi (egg custard) with shrimp, shitaake mushroom and a gingko nut hiding at the bottom; sashimi, wonderfully light shrimp and vegetable tempura; rice sprinkled with red shiso powder; a small piece of grilled fish; rolled tamago (omelette); salmon roe and grated daikon; and tsumono (pickles). My companions ordered the nanbankan combination, a large plate of marinated, sauteed thinly-sliced beef and vegetables, with rice, tsumono, and a small udon, as well as a pork katsu and beef curry combination.

Everything was delicious, and the place was packed, mostly with Japanese people. The guy next to us had a fabulous-looking spread of soba and grilled whole mackerel pike. I'll definitely be back to try more of their food.

Sanuki No Sato
18206 S. Western Ave.
Gardena
(310) 324-9184

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  1. We continued our fact-finding mission (looking for a place for my mom's 80th b-day) and went to Sanuki no Sato for lunch today. We had a similar order (upgraded Sanuki bento set) to the OP's, but it also included a good portion of uma-ni and some type of marinated fresh shitake mushrooms which was kind of tucked under some of the uma-ni vegetables. Also, the grilled salmon and tamagoyaki was garnished with some nicely prepared gobo and kiriboshi (dried) daikon. We also ordered the karanabe udon (think spicy claypot with udon noodles and lots of pork, seafood and veggies), the tempura zaru soba, and the wafu ramen (topped with chashu).

    In general, the level of ingredients, the preparation, and the presentation are very good and just as the OP described but not up to par with a place like I-Naba in Torrance. And of course, the prices reflect that. The upgraded version of the Sanuki bento was a load of food, and could easily be shared between two for lunch - one person eating this would pass on dinner.

    The karanabe udon is probably one of the spicier dishes that we've experienced in a Japanese restaurant (not including freakishly hot like Orochon). The broth was probably miso-based and was a bit thick with a fair amount of chile flavor and heat. The amount of udon, pork, seafood, tofu and vegetables was very generous, and it comes in a bubbling hot nabe (claypot). Looking at its viscous texture, I thought it was going to be too salty, thinking that if it was a miso base, that it would be too heavy, but it was actually just right to us.

    The The tempura zaru soba was good as well. The soba itself was prepared well but after having I-Naba's the night before, it was a relative downgrade. Poster exilekiss explains that I-Naba's soba is sourced from its sister restaurant Ichimian, which explains its artisan taste and texture and I-Naba's commitment to quality. Sanuki's tsuyu had less body - not a bad thing, just different - and was a tad sweeter and more savory than I-Naba's. The tempura was the same as in the bento set - very light, the batter a bit thicker than I-Naba, and very passable.

    The wafu ramen was pretty basic - ramen in an udon broth, topped with a generous portion of chashu.

    As the OP mentions, the vast majority of patrons here are from the homeland and I think this speaks to the QPR of the place. All things considered, you do get good value here. Nothing earth-shattering, but it's relatively clean, has the look and feel of a Japanese noodle house, most would be satisfied here for lunch or dinner, they do have private, tatami, and small banquet rooms, and parking is relatively easy.

    Thanks to posters BombayUpWithaTwist and OCAnn for the rec!

    18 Replies
    1. re: bulavinaka

      Nice review...and it's really adds perspective when you compare it w/the other restaurants. I'll have to put I-Naba on my growing list of places to try out that way.

      btw, QPR = ?

      1. re: OCAnn

        QPR = Quality Price Ratio

        I-Naba is worth a try in my book...

        1. re: OCAnn

          Here's exilekiss's report:

          http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/554855

        2. re: bulavinaka

          Thanks for the rave abouut I-Naba... I had no idea they did Soba... I though it was a strict Tempura operation... we'll have to give it a shot... We've been to SNS recently (When Asa Ramen was closed) and was not terribly impressed...

          1. re: Dommy

            If you're after the soba, go to Ichimian, I-Naba's sister eatery. But I did see a family of four sharing a HUGE platter of zaru soba at I-Naba. I'd be fighting over the last thread of soba tooth & nail...

            I-Naba's menu is quite broad, and they do have both a tempura bar as well as a sushi bar. Of course, you can order individual items from both bars from your table, but I think the interplay at the counters always elevates the experience.

            SNS has good QPR - Quality/Price Ratio. I liked it but love, well I'm not that easy!

            1. re: Dommy

              Another of exilekiss's exceptional write-ups:

              http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/552864

              1. re: Dommy

                Sanuki is not a destination "gourmet" restaurant. It's a neighborhood restaurant that serves solid Japanese comfort food with a lot of variety.

                It's a place where I meet my Mom for a quick and inexpensive lunch before I shop at Marukai.

                1. re: BombayUpWithaTwist

                  That's a perfect assessment of Sanuki no Sato!

                  1. re: BombayUpWithaTwist

                    Exactly - It's like trying to compare a solid neighborhood restaurant versus a higher-end version that pulls out the stops but at probably twice the price. An example of this for me is JJ Bakery in Torrance vs. Chantilly in Lomita. While Chinese in its roots, JJ does a lot of things very well, the prices are extremely reasonable, and one always walks out with a smile. Chantilly has a razor sharp focus on everything the do, the service has that classic Japanese "servant" feeling, the coffee is extraordinary, just about everything is very stylized, and one can have a seat and enjoy a Japanese-style patisserie experience from head to toe. Of course the prices are higher there as well. I really enjoy both, but they purposely hit different levels of enjoyment for the consumer and the prices reflect that.

                2. re: bulavinaka

                  Great review, you really went into a lot of detail! I agree the food is not great, but it's solid and the staff is efficient.

                  1. re: BombayUpWithaTwist

                    I wish I could have said it so well... :)

                    1. re: bulavinaka

                      I do still think it would be a good location for your Mother's b-day party. It's a place that 80 year old Asian Mom's and friends like and are comfortable at. It has the private banquet room and foods they are familiar with.

                      My ex-boyfriend's Mom (JA Nisei) would have said she would like this place because it's not "too hi-tone".

                      Exilekiss has a point about the parking. It's a fair sized lot, but it does get crowded at peak times. Starting the party an hour before the rush is great advice!

                      Please wish your Mother a Happy Birthday. You show a lot of love towards her in doing your extensive research for the venue and we also score with your detailed reviews! Great Job!!

                      1. re: BombayUpWithaTwist

                        Yes, otanjoubi omedetou to your mom...I too am impressed w/your restaurant research & review!

                        Whether you choose SNS or somewhere else, I look forward to your report.

                        1. re: BombayUpWithaTwist

                          Bombay and OCAnn, thank you for the kind words. Hitting 80 is a big deal for anyone. As many may know, it's a true milestone in the Japanese culture. I'm fortunate to still have both of my parents (touch wood) - my dad hit 80 last year and we did the same at Asakuma in West LA. It was good and all, but we felt it could have been better. Many JA seniors were brought up on Americanized versions of Japanese cuisine so Asakuma worked fine for most of my dad's long-time friends, but my mom (born and bred in the homeland) has been waxing a little nostaligic lately; thus, the search for a place that felt a little more like across the Pacific yet would have room for our projected guest list.

                          1. re: bulavinaka

                            I didn't know that 80 is a milestone(!); my own father hits that next year. I was only aware of the 60 year (kanreki) celebration. Thanks for the 411; I guess I should consider planning something for him....

                            1. re: OCAnn

                              I think reaching certain milestone ages in one's life has become another cause (and maybe excuse) for celebration. I could be wrong, but 60, 70, 77, 80, 88, 90, and 99 are celebrated. It's probably an acknowledgment/thanks to good health and hopefully a little good fortune mixed with good old numerology...

                    2. re: bulavinaka

                      Hi bulavinaka,

                      Another excellent review. (^_^) Yah, that's a good assessment for Sanuki No Sato. One quick note (if you end up deciding to go here for the B-day party): Parking is good if your party starts before the usual "dinner rush." Whenever we visited this plaza at night (once on a weeknight, twice on a weekend) for Asa / SNS, the parking lot can get pretty full (like 1-2 spaces open at most). So consider starting the B-day party at an hour to beat the lunch/dinner rush. :)

                      1. re: exilekiss

                        Great tip, exilekiss... Thank you!

                    3. I always refer to this place as "the Japanese Denny's."