I’ve been to Yabu and the little noodle shop in the Mitsuya supermarket on Centinela at Venice Boulevard, but I am still in search of the ultimate soba joint.
Soba may be the ultimate Japanese noodle: moistly crunchy groats temporarily transformed, as if by magic, into pasta; fragile, earthy strands of buckwheat that cohere just long enough to travel on chopsticks to your mouth. The greatest soba — like that prepared, perhaps, at Honmura-An in New York’s Soho — inches right up to the brink of chaos. Los Angeles is more of an udon town, but I am generally pleased with the chewy soba at Mishima, especially the tanuki soba sprinkled with the tiny, crisp puffs of tempura batter that flake off in the fryer. But the finer, more delicate soba at Sanuki No Sato might be my favorite at the moment — especially as part of the restaurant’s elaborate bento meals. Try the version garnished with salty salmon roe. Mishima, 8474 W. Third St., (323) 782-0181. Sanuki No Sato, 18206 S. Western Ave., Gardena, (310) 324-9184.
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