Saturday, November 8, 2008

Lunching @ Izakaya Tajima - I'm Never Bored!

A few more lunches at Izakaya Tajima (formerly known as Tajima 2) that I wanted to share. Izakaya Tajima is located across from Mitsuwa Market and is the sister restaurant to the original Tajima off Convoy. You can read about the pressed Battera sushi and Anago Tempura I had last here.

One dish that I remembered seeing on the menu and was curious to try was the Uni Spaghetti ($8.95).

Also described on the menu as the Sea Urchin Carbonara it was indeed rich and creamy and very different than the version I had at Izakaya Sakura. Can't say which I like better, they are both tasty in their own ways.

Topped with Kaiware, Kizami Nori and Shiso, here the Uni is completely dissolved into the creamy sauce and results in a mellower Sea Urchin flavor. I found the teeniest drizzle of light soy sauce the perfect enhancement for it personally.

The Asari Miso Soup ($3.95) was quite dark and rich.

Made me crave for a bowl of white rice in a good way.

The lunch specials are a good bargain here imo for what is offered. There is a Two-Item mix-n-match for $7.95 and another Udon/Soba combo (cold or hot) for $8.95. With the money you save you may feel better about splurging on a fancy roll like how I did this day. ;)

For the two items I chose Sashimi and.. Sashimi. Came with a good amount of salad.

The resulting Sashimi lunch plate was 4-Tuna, 4-Salmon and 4-Hamachi resting on Shiso leaves and shredded Daikon next to a mound of Wakame.

All including a bowl of rice and miso soup for $7.95 is a good deal in my opinion.

The Special Rolls you'll have to spend a bit more for. The intriguing sounding "Red Dragon Tanned" was ~$12.

I'll have to go back to my higher rez image of the menu to accurately describe the list of ingredients but its sauce went something like Butter Soy Sauce, Jalepenos and Cilantro.

This sauce was an interesting experiment but I honestly enjoyed the roll more just by itself.

One noodle combo lunch special I tried was with a Chirashi (Sushi Bowl).

Taking pics in the cozy but dim atmosphere of Izakaya Tajima can sometimes be challenging. This photo unfortunately doesn't do justice but the Chirashi which was an assortment of very fresh Sashimi over warm Sushi Rice with shredded Tamago tasted great. I even liked the Krab Salad topping (the kind used in a California Roll) because I thought it gave the dish that Southern California touch.

The Soba was good as well. Basically the same as the Udon version I had last time with chopped Scallions, Wakame, Tenkasu bits and slice of Kamaboko fish cake. Simple. Tasty.

The Tonpei appetizer ($4.50) was essentially a small Okonomiyaki held together with an egg instead of batter. This allowed me to taste more of the sizzle char of the thin pork slices (hiding under all the toppings) and I enjoyed this.

I think you should try it (same with the Okonomiyaki) if the photo looks appetizing to you. That is as you can see it is drenched in Japanese Mayo and sweet Okonomi sauce so I feel it's a love or not kind of deal. If you had to ask, it's deal with me is a whole lotta love, haha.

So we finally get to a Ramen.

Asari (Shio) Ramen ($8.95).

The Asari Ramen at Izakaya Tajima is a permanent menu item while it is only served at the original location on selected days. With the exception of Sushi and a few other items offered only here, you'll find the menus at both Tajima's widely overlap.

I think Miso would've been a better soup choice for the Asari Ramen. I felt the Asari Clams over powered the flavor of the subtle Shio (Salt flavor) soup and as much as I like Asari, I think I prefer its taste as a background chorus to Miso. Again just a personal preference maybe.

One thing I always enjoy in a Tajima Ramen is the Hanjuku Tamago. They got this thing down. Always flavorful and cooked to where the yolk is a nice glossy medium soft.

In my experience the consistency with the doneness of the noodles tended to be a problem but recently I haven't encountered this at all. This day's had a great (what I call) springy firmness. I've always had their Ramen with the Thin noodles and so I can't comment on what the Thick ones are like.

The Gyoza this day looked a bit rough ($4.50).

But didn't matter so much because I was planning to this with it all along.

My Gyoza-don. I give it a generous sprinkling of Shichimi and use a drizzle of soy sauce rather than the accompanied gyoza sauce because the tart vinegary taste of it becomes a bit much with the rice. Some Ra-yu hot oil would be great as well if available. The Gyoza at Tajima is light with lots of veggies. Pretty standard but I give them kudos for actually making them from scratch.

The Karaage ($4.50) here is skinless and may seem healthier for you than Sakura's version..

But are we really counting calories when we dip deep fried chicken pieces into mayo? ;)

So I've completed my first designated post to lunching at Izakaya Tajima and I'm glad. Because aside from doing this blog as a personal food diary of sorts, I like to think that I also play a role as a cheerleader for my local eateries that I feel deserve notable mentioning. Izakaya Tajima is definitely one of them.

Izakaya Tajima is open for lunch on weekdays, 11:30AM ~ 2:30PM.

Izakaya Tajima, 4411 Mercury St., San Diego, CA 92111


KirkK said...

Hey Dennis - You're right about the's a love it, or hate it kind of thing. I think they Okonomiyaki at Tajima has pretty much gone downhill over the often ends up really gummy, or too "floury/grainy" (not enough Yamaimo?) nowadays. So much so, that the Missus just sticks what I make from home...or sticks out for Gaja in Lomita.

Dennis K. said...

Hi Kirk I'm sure you would make a mean Okonomiyaki! ;)
I honestly haven't had enough to say but maybe Izakaya Tajima's is worth another try. I notice seeing the owner/chef there a lot more than at the original location and I feel the food is more consistent at Izakaya Tajima. Thanks for letting me know about Gaja. Since my last close friend moved to SF, I haven't had a chance to visit L.A. in a while..