June 23, 2007

Otafuku [Gardena]

I'll have to admit that the exterior is deterring and doesn't look promising in the least bit. I was slightly put off but it had garnered rave reviews so I pushed ahead with the plan. Afterall, I had made numerous u-turns up and down Western, looking for the place.

After securing parking in the tiny lot behind the restaurant, I was pleasantly surprised by the cleanliness of the interior. It is drastically different from the drab-looking facade out front. There are two bright dining rooms along with a bar near the open kitchen.

The specialty at Otafuku is the soba which is available in two varities: zaru or seiro. I learned that while both types are made with buckwheat, the seiro is composed of only the inside of the buckwheat, leading to a white color, as opposed to the gray hue seen on zaru.

The seiro soba came was served traditionally with dipping sauce that was extremely light. There was hardly any flavor and often, I found myself re-dipping. At times, the soba was clumpy and it was difficult to procure a sizeable bite.

The fishcake tempura that came with my meal possesses a misleading name. It had a sightly gooey inside with lots of shrimp. The batter was nice and crispy but fairy greasy. It would have been more appropriate to name it shrimp cake tempura.

The oyako don was also very light and the flavor of the sauce was hardly noticeable. The chicken was nicely tender.

At the end of the meal, I was brought a red cup of steaming liquid. It was to be poured into the remaining soba dipping sauce and drank as a soup. However, I didn't try it as I was to full and the weather wasn't favorable for soup.

16525 S. Western Ave.
Gardena, CA 90247
(310) 532-9348

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