I went for soba I came back with a new favorite Izakaya: Otafuku

I had been meaning to get there for a while.  Otafuku has a reputation as having some of the best homemade soba in town.  We wanted a light dinner the other night, so we decided to finally give it a shot.  Honestly, it was just meant to be a casual meal.  I didn’t bring the camera, and that was an egregious error in judgment!

We ordered a few sashimi items as they looked intriguing:  Halibut done in the old traditional style where it is first marinated overnight in kelp.  Aji (spanish mackerel) off the specials list.  And Albacore.  All were about $12-$15 each.  And all were worth it!  I haven’t had albacore like that in a long time. Engagingly crunchy, smooth flavor, more like marugai (geoduck) than clammy.  It was much less “quinine-ey” than I usually get.  The halibut did not come out tasting like kelp, the kelp brought out the halibut essence.  Very subtle, and again, great texture.  The Aji also was excellent. 

We moved on to a few yakitori items: hearts, gizzards, tomato and asparagus both wrapped in pork belly.   Initially, when we saw the price of $3.50 a skewer, we thought it was overpriced versus Shin Sen Gumi just up the street.  But the portions were double the size; 4 or 5 pieces per skewer.   And just like the sashimi, flavor and texture both spot on.  The veggies were not wrapped in glorified bacon like most places, either.  They use a thin layer of pork that is quite meaty and flavorful; it did not feel overly greasy. 

Another great dish was the wild mushrooms over crispy rice; the mushrooms are braised in a dashi sauce that tastes almost french.  It is thickened with a bit of cornstarch then served over squares of crispy (fried) rice.  An interesting and compelling mix of flavor and texture here as well.

Finally, we sampled their soba.  THey offer one kind that is 100% buckwheat.  Buckwheat flour is high in protein and has a very low glycemic index.  But most soba contains a mix of wheat and buckwheat.  The 100% buckwheat is chewier and rougher than the blend, but still, excellent flavor and texture and a good option for those watching carbs.  The blend was of course much tastier.  It was described as seiro soba: “quite thin white noodle made of a mixture of
special white buckwheat flour, using only the heart of soba seeds” Both are accompanied by the same soba sauce and accompaniments.   I heard they offer sobayu, the broth the noodles are cooked in.  We will request that next time.  Along with the off-menu onigiri (grilled rice balls) we saw others had requested.  Too full…

They have an small but respectable sake list (as well as beer,shochu, etc.)  I am so sorry I did not have my camera. I will go back soon and update this post with photos. 

I have read other’s complaints that they charge too much.  With 4
glasses of high-end sake the bill came to more than $150 for two.  We
think the quality is absolutely worth it and we will go back for sure. 
We spend at least that when we go to other local izakayas; we found the
prices fair.  

Otafuku Noodle House

16525 S Western Ave
Gardena, CA 90247

(310) 532-9348

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