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Hannosuke: A Tempura Specialist Stall in Mitsuwa

j
Johnny L Jun 12, 2012 12:02 AM

Location: Mar Vista/Santa Monica Mitsuwa Food Court on Centinela Ave.

Grand opening was today and the first 100 customers got a few tendon. Being I had the day off work I decided to waste my morning and early afternoon in line with the housewives, elderly, and enthusiasts.

There are only two options of tendon, one with anago and one with whitefish. They were only serving the pricier option today which was nice of them.

Overall I thought the food has the potential to be good but the problem was they only served the first 100 as takeout orders and packed the food into styrofoam boxes so I feel got soggy in there even for the 1 minute it was closed. Honestly I can't say I'm disappointed since it was free and it wasn't the best representation of the food but I do think it has potential to be very good. I'm hoping to go back soon and actually pay for it but I thought the anago which was the only thing that came out very crispy was fried perfectly but rather lacking in flavor, not worth the extra $3 over whitefish in my opinion.

Pictures
The line:
http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8024/73...
The menu:
http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7083/73...
The food:
http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7094/73...

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  1. PeterCC RE: Johnny L Jun 12, 2012 12:09 AM

    Nice report, Johnny L. At first I was, "I didn't realize they made tempura out of tendon..." then I realized my mistake. :-)

    Haven't been to Mitsuwa in a while, didn't realize this was opening in there. I'll have to go check it out sometime.

    1 Reply
    1. re: PeterCC
      i
      ilysla RE: PeterCC Jun 12, 2012 04:16 PM

      I made the same mistake, as well.... ;)

      Wonder if it'll avoid the curse that has plagued all the other vendors who've moved into that specific spot in the food court. I've only been going to that Mitsuwa intermittently for the past few years, but it seems like all the vendors in that spot close down in a few months (to be fair, the food has been unremarkable....).

    2. Mattapoisett in LA RE: Johnny L Jun 12, 2012 12:29 AM

      I went today as well. got there just before 1:30. I was order 123, so I missed the free stuff. I had a similar experience with the tempura not being crisp or all that warm. Mine was not packed to go but in a bowl with rice and a side of Miso. The other thing to note is it took about :45 minutes to process my order and in that time they didn't process more that 20 others. The counter woman was very apologetic I expect it will get better and am heartened by the fact that Johnny's anago was at least crisp.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Mattapoisett in LA
        j
        Johnny L RE: Mattapoisett in LA Jun 12, 2012 12:35 AM

        I saw that they were working in batches so if you were unlucky you might have gotten one of the last pieces to be served which meant it sat the longest probably why some of my items were of varying crunchiness. Also noticed they had temporary staff from Tsujita LA so I wonder what the connection is...

        Either way I'm not going to write them off yet.

      2. l
        LAmaggie RE: Johnny L Jun 12, 2012 09:37 AM

        I was the lucky 100 yesterday too. I am surprised that they give out the pricier option too. I waited for about 50mins for my order. My number is 36 and I heard the Tsujita lady said they only have 66 bowls left (out of 100) when they started to give out the number.

        I am not complaining about the food since it's Free. But then I agree that I would not pay extra $4 for the anago. ($12.95 vs $8.95). Anyway, either $12.95 or $8.95, they give you a lot of tempura, which I think it worth it. I am surprised by the tempura soft boiled egg a lot (still raw). Brilliant idea.

        I may go back later for the dine-in option, I don't like the togo idea.

         
         
         
        2 Replies
        1. re: LAmaggie
          e
          epop RE: LAmaggie Jun 12, 2012 05:16 PM

          to go tempura is kind of a joke, as well as frying everything at once. True tempura is
          a much more refined experience.

          1. re: epop
            b
            bulavinaka RE: epop Jun 12, 2012 06:03 PM

            I have to agree. The half-life of tempura is pretty short. Once the dust settles, I'd like to try their food dine-in.

        2. n
          nosh RE: Johnny L Jun 13, 2012 04:31 PM

          I was there on Monday as well -- I got #45 and it was still almost an hour in line.

          I'll echo the others so far: Putting tempura in a box over steaming rice, even for the time it took to get from the counter, take it out of the bag, and open the container, was enough to take the edge off the crispiness that is the draw of good tempura. And I had them omit the soft-boiled egg that they make a big deal of explaining to mix with the rice. I'm too picky an eater to be satisfied with just the two options offered -- I was hoping for a variety of veggies along with the admittedly good portion of seafood.

          1 Reply
          1. re: nosh
            b
            beingreen RE: nosh Jun 15, 2012 10:45 PM

            I got there after the free food was gone, got it in a bowl to eat there, and it was still pretty soggy. There was a huge line when I got in it, though after I ordered the crowd had really thinned out. I'd be willing to try it again in a couple of weeks to see if the wait time is improved and hopefully the batter is crunchier...

          2. j
            js76wisco RE: Johnny L Aug 15, 2012 01:22 PM

            Has anybody tried this after the grand opening? Midtown lunch has been raving about the tempura here. I need to know if I have to recruit a buddy to split tempura and ramen, I find it hard not to have Santouka if I make the trek out to Mitsuwa.

            11 Replies
            1. re: js76wisco
              wienermobile RE: js76wisco Aug 15, 2012 01:27 PM

              Yes it is great. Their runny egg in the bowl really puts it over the top. Made to order and not sitting under a heat lamp. My orders came out very crispy and tasty, Two new items a vegetarian bowl & a shrimp bowl. Orders are taking around 10 minutes at dinner time.
              http://www.mitsuwa.com/tenant/hannosu...

              1. re: js76wisco
                o
                Ogawak RE: js76wisco Aug 15, 2012 03:55 PM

                I came here after all the mixed reviews. TenDon (tempura donburi, or tempura over rice) is a little different from having tempura separate from the rice. It will by its nature get soggier. I found it absolutely delicious and really worth coming for. It was great to watch the chefs fry everything right in front of you. By the way, this was a takeout order. Next time we will try it on site.

                1. re: Ogawak
                  j
                  js76wisco RE: Ogawak Aug 15, 2012 04:53 PM

                  Thanks for the reports. It sounds like a good addition to the food court. Will have to make a trip out there soon. I hope they put one in Costa Mesa.

                2. re: js76wisco
                  J.L. RE: js76wisco Aug 15, 2012 05:04 PM

                  I'm there once every 2 weeks now. The food's better now than during their initial opening.

                  http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/855895

                  1. re: J.L.
                    Servorg RE: J.L. Aug 16, 2012 06:05 AM

                    You got me with this final post and we went last night. Probably got there a little after 7 PM. No line at all for Hannosuke and I ordered one shrimp bowl. I then went over to where I'd installed my son in the pretty long Santouka line and traded places so he could go get his food at one of the no line places. So I got one bowl of ramen with spicy miso ramen and the shrimp bowl that I shared with my wife.

                    I'll say that I'd go back for this again. It was quite good, if just not quite as crispy as I would have thought. Plenty of food for the $8.75 (that might be a little off as I wasn't paying strict attention to how much exactly the bowl was) and that soft egg is a brilliant addition to the don bowl. You get both the larger butterflied long shrimp (4 of these IIRC) as well as smaller round ones kind of clumped together in a batter ball. Plus the yam and something that looked like a shishito pepper done in tempura too, which was very good.

                    1. re: Servorg
                      TonyC RE: Servorg Aug 16, 2012 10:54 AM

                      Is it any better than the solid shrimp tempura at Otafuku?

                      1. re: TonyC
                        Servorg RE: TonyC Aug 16, 2012 11:09 AM

                        Haven't tried it, but would certainly like to. It's outside out normal orbit, so it will have to wait until we are down there for some other purpose. Mitsuwa Mar Vista is about 5 minutes from our house.

                        1. re: TonyC
                          Dommy RE: TonyC Aug 17, 2012 01:03 PM

                          Not better.... but the tempura at Otafuku is epic. I still dream about their giant eel tempura... omg. But I wasn't expecting really that at Hannosuke, especially since it is essentially a fast food rice bowl.

                          Anyway, I managed a trip to try the new Shrimp bowl. and THANK YOU Joshekg for the suggestion of ordering sauce on the side...

                          https://twitter.com/Dommy_in_LA/statu...

                          Overall, I liked the shrimp bowl a lot better than the mixed bowl. It didn't feel so heavy and the tiny shrimp were cooked much better than those rubbery tiny scallops. Not my favorite shrimp tempura, which is R23, but NOTHING beats that egg... OMG...

                        2. re: Servorg
                          J.L. RE: Servorg Aug 16, 2012 11:15 AM

                          Thanks for reporting back!

                          I usually do the same mix-n-match at that Mitsuwa food court: Santouka & Hannosuke, all on one trip. Nice.

                          The shrimp bowl is a newer addition to the Hannosuke menu.

                          1. re: J.L.
                            Porthos RE: J.L. Aug 16, 2012 11:59 AM

                            JL. Get thee to I-naba and sit at the tempura bar. No soggy tempura there. It's a perfect summer lunch with some zaru soba.

                          2. re: Servorg
                            j
                            joshekg RE: Servorg Aug 16, 2012 09:42 PM

                            I order it with the sauce on the side and it comes out much crispier as it is not doused in sauce. No where near as good as Dote No Iseya in tokyo, but it will do for LA :-).

                      2. wienermobile RE: Johnny L Dec 23, 2012 11:01 AM

                        They now offer chicken tempura and chicken Ten-Don bowls ($8.95 each) plus you can now order tempura plates in addition to their bowls (same amount of food & same price just a little more crunchy). Good stuff.

                        11 Replies
                        1. re: wienermobile
                          Servorg RE: wienermobile Dec 25, 2012 07:02 AM

                          Tried the shrimp bowl and the shrimp plate last night in a side by side show down. It is definitely crunchier on the plate. The tempura egg comes all alone on top of the huge bowl of steamed rice and they give you a large amount of the tempura sauce in a separate bowl, which is also a nice touch. This may be the way I'll go from now on. Thanks for the heads up.

                          1. re: Servorg
                            J.L. RE: Servorg Dec 25, 2012 12:19 PM

                            Objective, concise, elegant... Truly a Chow-ish reply.

                            1. re: Servorg
                              j
                              Johnny L RE: Servorg Dec 26, 2012 12:32 AM

                              Excited to go back, now this begs the question. Why even bother to get the bowl over the plate now, what advantage could the bowl have to a tempura fan unless someone is just lazy and wants to dig straight downward into their food with no lateral movements.

                              1. re: Johnny L
                                E Eto RE: Johnny L Dec 26, 2012 08:45 AM

                                This kind of comment seems to miss the point. In fact, if you like your tempura so crunchy, it begs the question, why even bother dipping it in the sauce? You'll just sog it up if you put any liquid near it. In reality, at least in the reality of tempura in Japan, while crunchiness is just one aspect of the experience, there are many ways to enjoy it. Tempura donburi (or ten-don), when made properly, is a heavenly dish. Sure, it can get a little soggy, but no one cares if it tastes good. There's a certain gestalt in simultaneous eating the rice, sauce, the residual oil, and tempura in the same mouthful. Or even putting that crunchy tempura in a bowl of udon. Maybe you'll never understand that, seeing that you've already made up your mind. Or maybe I'm just one of the 47% that's too lazy to eat it crunchy all the time.

                                https://www.google.com/search?q=%E5%A...

                                1. re: E Eto
                                  Servorg RE: E Eto Dec 26, 2012 08:54 AM

                                  I like to add the sauce to the rice, but not directly on the tempura. That way I get the best of both worlds (I like the textural contrast of the crunchy to the non crunchy components).

                                  1. re: Servorg
                                    E Eto RE: Servorg Dec 26, 2012 09:12 AM

                                    Some of the really great ten-don places I've been to in Japan dunk the freshly fried tempura in their special tare (sauce), before placing it on the bowl of rice. And then add another little drizzle of sauce on top. Some of those were pure heaven. A kind of sweet soggy heaven.

                                    1. re: E Eto
                                      J.L. RE: E Eto Dec 26, 2012 12:49 PM

                                      He has a point there as well...

                                      1. re: E Eto
                                        Servorg RE: E Eto Dec 26, 2012 06:00 PM

                                        If you get the plate you can do either, a little soggy if you put some of the tempura in the rice bowl with the egg (which is actually easier to spread more widely over the rice when it not lumped in with all the other tempura pieces) and put some of the sauce over the top of them (or dip them first and then pile into the rice bowl) and you can keep some of the shrimp out of the bowl and enjoy the crunch. I just like the complete control of the dish that the plate give me over the bowl.

                                        1. re: Servorg
                                          E Eto RE: Servorg Dec 26, 2012 07:49 PM

                                          FYI, the sauce (tare) for the ten-don is different from the dipping sauce (tsuyu) with the grated daikon/ginger for a tempura teishoku (plate). So they're pretty different in preparation. A ten-don is a different dish than the one you make with your DIY method. The photo from Dommy's post above features a tare for pouring over the tempura and rice, not for dipping.

                                    2. re: E Eto
                                      j
                                      Johnny L RE: E Eto Dec 26, 2012 02:01 PM

                                      But you can dip it on your own time and eat it as soon as it comes out of the sauce which should be the most crunchy at any point in time after dipping whereas if its sauced already you have to wait precious seconds to minutes before you take your first bite.

                                    3. re: Johnny L
                                      Porthos RE: Johnny L Dec 26, 2012 09:37 PM

                                      Or you could go to I-naba where each piece is fried to order at the tempura counter and served individually like sushi. You get your choice of the traditional dipping sauce with daikon, coarse salt, curry powder, and a green tea powder (I think). That will maximize your tempura crispiness.

                                      When available ask for the anago with bone. If they aren't serving it with the bone chip, it's packaged and not fresh.

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