June 10, 2007

Spoon House [Gardena]

Updated July 15, 2007

Our visits to Spoon House (1) aren't going anywhere fast, since we are always sharing, but at least this time, we were able to try a few more dishes courtesy of our UYE (Unofficial Yelp Event) outing.

By far, the most popular choice was the Japanese Cod Roe and Butter Sauce (Tarako), which comes with seaweed, squid, sea urchin or a combination of the three. The butter sauce was mild and light, though the taste of the cod roe is a little understated for the dish (Il Chianti does better with its version).

#34 - Hot garlic with seasoned mushrooms, grated daikon, and bonito

Number 34 was a real hit and probably our favorite at Spoon House yet. The mushrooms are finely chopped and whipped into a slightly sticky and delicately sweet sauce, while the bonito and seaweed give the dish a distinct Japanese twist. It's not as hot as you'd expect it to be, though there are diced dried peppers tossed into the dish. The flavors really meld well and sing in your mouth.

After failed lunch plans for Saturday, we opted to drive out to the South Bay again and check out Spoon House, the Japanese-Italian pasta place. After stopping off early at Sakura-Ya to pick up some manju sweets, we drove two minutes around the corner and found the bright turquoise storefront without difficulty.

Seating was ample at noon when we arrived and we chose to sit at the bar for its view of the open kitchen. We watched as plate after plate of piping hot spaghetti came out fresh from the kitchen and decided that one entree would be enough our small appetites on this particular Sunday afternoon. After perusing the menu and steering away from items we could have at any generic Italian restaurant, we settled on the Japanese-style clam sauce with shimeji and shitake mushrooms ($9.75). We also had them add shiso for an additional ($10.50)

Every meal at Spoon House starts off with a basket of bread and the customary $1 salad. Though Yelp had led us to believe that both of these starters were "to die for," we found them no better than something you would conjure up for a last-minute dinner. I've had far better French bread and the salad dressing was pretty standard for a Japanese restaurant.

The kitchen had the timing just right and our spaghetti came out just after we had finished our salads. The portions at Spoon House are just right--large enough to make you feel as if you're getting some really good bang for your buck and small enough so that you dont feel overwhelmed with gluttony.

I've always been weary of seafood-based pastas, but the mild clam sauce was a perfectly balanced against the citrusy shiso leaves and pungent seaweed which topped our spaghetti. The mushrooms captured the essence of the sauce, while retaining their own their own flavor. The dish as a whole was very light and between the two of us, we had a little left over.

Spoon House is perfect for families and was filled with kids of all ages. It is also unique in that it is one of the first South Bay Japanese restaurants where there were equal amounts of Japanese and non-Japanese patrons. We'll definitely have to come back on another day and hope that they have business cards in stock.

Spoon House
1601 W. Redondo Beach Boulevard.
Gardena, CA 90247
(310) 538-0376

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