Exploring Soba - The Handmade Noodle Specialists of Ichimian, Tanakaya and Otafuku [Thoughts + Pics]

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Thanks for your in-depth soba reviews, @Chowseeker1999! I can’t wait to try Tanakaya next week - if everything goes to plan.

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I keep thinking Gardena is really far away, but it’s only 1/2 hour on the freeway from Culver City (takes that long to get to Mozza).

I love soba and you have sold me on Otafuku. Lack of air-conditioning will not deter me from those noodles. But, no tempura?

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Hi @MaladyNelson,

Thanks. I hope you get to try it! :slight_smile:

If you don’t, be sure to stop by Otafuku or Ichimian the next time you’re in the South Bay. :slight_smile:

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Hi @Bookwich,

Oh definitely. Gardena isn’t very far at all. :slight_smile:

There is Tempura at Otafuku, but in our haste, I forgot to order some to try. :cry: Next time!

And if you needed more incentive, while you’re in that area, you’re right next to 2 of the best Handmade Mochi confectioners (old-school Japanese pillowy, soft Mochi desserts!). :slight_smile: (Sakura-ya and Chikara Mochi.)

And down the street a bit more you can have some amazing French-Japanese Cream Puffs! :slight_smile: (Patisserie Chantilly.)

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The trials you endure for us FTCers and for the sake of investigative carb-loading!

Tanakaya offering three levels of soba portions reminds me of how cold soba is offered in Japan. Zaru udon is very common too. What’s crazy is how fast some folks there can slurp through their portions. It’s a “Tampopo” scene played out millions of times a day over there.

I believe Ichimian is or at least used to be part of a holding group of eateries that Includes Inaba, a solid Japanese eatery behind an incognito storefront on Hawthorne near Torrance Blvd.

I’ve mentioned this on CH. And let me temper this info with the fact that my last visit was a year or more ago. Inaba fills a somewhat unique niche in SoCal. Inaba is a general restaurant made up of a dining area, a tempura bar and a sushi bar. Both bars are legit and play second only to their upper-tier specialist counterparts.

You can dine in any of three areas. We’ve only eaten in the general dining area and ordered off the general menu. If you order sushi or tempura, or a combination that includes tempura and/or sushi, those items come from the respective bars. Inaba also serves soba made by Ichimian. So in many ways, Inaba’s dishes are products of very capable specialists. Each item may not be the absolute best that one can find in SoCal, but finding this level of quality throughout the menu would be difficult to find elsewhere.

Having tried the soba at Ichimian’s two locations and at Inaba, I preferred the soba at Inaba. The flavors and texture just seemed more succinct. And of course, the tempura was pretty hard to beat as well.

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Go early. The place filled up quickly.

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Hi @bulavinaka,

Ooh! Thanks for the reminder on Inaba! :slight_smile: “Yes” they are still affiliated, their websites link to each other.

http://www.restaurantinaba.com/

And great point about Inaba’s advantage: They have a good Tempura bar right? They were one of the few Tempura specialists in LA right? :slight_smile:

Yes and yes! Nothing Shunji-esque, Endo-maniacal or uber-Mori, but solid renditions of Japanese standards.

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Fantastic coverage of the three places, thanks!!!

Now I’m curious, who does the best tamagoyaki (technically, dashimaki tamago) amongst those three places? Typically soba restaurants in Japan offer this as an appetizer while people wait for their soba orders.

And who has the better sake lists, I wonder…

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Hi @beefnoguy,

Thanks. As for your questions, that’s going to be easy (unfortunately):

  • Best Tamagoyaki: Otafuku. (It is delicious, but also Ichimian and Tanakaya don’t serve it (I’m guessing because of local clientele, adapting to what makes sense in the U.S.?)).

  • Best Sake List: Otafuku. (Ichimian and Tanakaya don’t serve Sake.)

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Hi @Ns1,

Hm? Where did I say Otafuku doesn’t serve Sake? :confused: I said Ichimian and Tanakaya don’t serve Sake. :slight_smile:

Sorry I saw the period as a comma. =X

Ah! Sorry. Let me fix the formatting so it’s easier to read. :sweat_smile:

Thanks for the advice, @teriyakichi!

Update:

Since @Bookwich was asking about Tempura at Otafuku, and I had forgotten to order it, we decided to drive back down to the South Bay to try it.

Otafuku

Shrimp Tempura (Black Tiger Shrimp, Assorted Vegetables):

So Otafuku’s fried dishes so far have been very, very good. But the Tempura was so-so. The oil tasted fresh, but it was too greasy, and lacked the crispness of great Tempura. The Shrimp were very moist and tender (cooked well), the Vegetables (including Shiso Leaf and Kabocha) were so-so. A bit muddled.

So given that, I’d still go to Tanakaya for Ten Zaru Soba (superior Tempura), but otherwise, it’d be Otafuku and Ichimian for Noodles. :slight_smile:

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Ten Zaru, Ichmiann

I was in th neighborhood and was finally able to try Ichimiann. I agree with the assessments above. Darn good noodles, and I thought the tempura was pretty good for such a casual place. So crispy amd light, although one of the shrimp was mushy. It’s okay, the other one was sweet and firm, and I only need one. :slight_smile:

A good lunch stop, so glad for the recommendations. I’m sure I’ll be back when the summer heat hits. I do love icy cold soba on a sweltering day.

Ichimian Bamboo Garden
1618 Cravens Ave., Torrance

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Hi @Bookwich,

Nice! :slight_smile: Glad you liked it. Love their Soba!

Next time, just a few streets over is their sister restaurant, Inaba, which has Ichimian’s Handmade Soba, but with the added bonus of their amazing Tempura Bar (where you can order by the piece and they will fry it fresh to order for you). Magic. :slight_smile:

Excellent, will do! Maybe tomorrow. We’ve got a basketball tourney going in Redondo, so I’ll try to ditch everyone again. :wink:

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Also bumping up this thread to praise the Special Seiro soba at Otafuku. What a bite, babyyyyy.

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