Tuesday, August 31, 2010

An Omu-Napo @ Spoon House - Gardena

The Omu-Napo or Omu-Naporitan. I may need two steps to explain this one. First the strange ketchup and butter flavor wok'd Japanese spaghetti Naporitan, can be read about a little here. I'm not sure if the Naporitan is a fusion as it is more an adaptation but either way the Omu-Naporitan is a result from further fusionization with the concept of an Omurice (omelet-rice), an adapted Japanese Yoshoku dish itself.

Spoon House was hard to miss along West Redondo Beach Blvd. The bright blue facade faces Marukai Pacific Market on the other side of the street. When I first walked by, the restaurant was absolutely packed. I could see through the large windows everyone's oversized plates of Japanese fusion pasta (the few garnished with shredded kizami nori an easy giveaway). Along with Sakae Sushi around the corner it would be a place I would be coming back to check out.

I visited the following weekend and found browsing through their menu a bit overwhelming where a dense two column page is dedicated to solely pasta with a battery of options (the other page of the minimal three pager translated into Japanese).
Familiar fusion classics such as butter and cod roe, manila clams and shimeji mushrooms, were easy to spot but are offered along additional combinations such as with sea urchin, wakame seaweed, and natto. Italian classics, Bolognese, Carbonara (but eggs cut with cream) and Vongole Bianco were listed as well though I imagine them probably skewed to Japanese tastes as well.

The bakery component of the restaurant as far as I can tell is about their fresh baked French loaves (sold for $3 up front). It is what's given out in their complementary bread basket with every meal. Wasn't warmed but the flavor tasted fresh enough with the center being a very soft moist texture.

I thought a Japanese Naporitan would be nice and the listed pan-fried Spoon House Napolitano caught my eye but reading its description (and confirmed with the waitress) this wouldn't be a true Naporitan as it was flavored with tomato sauce and not ketchup. I was then pointed to their Spaghetti Omelette ($8.25) if I were to have my ketchup spaghetti fix. Choice of chicken or bacon.. I went for the chicken thinking of the standard Omurice's filling the chicken rice.

The chefs with great synchronized teamwork knew exactly what they were doing as I watched wanting to witness the wad of butter tossed midway into the thick large cast iron skillet. In another separate pan a flat omelet to be was prepared with a barely scrambled marble pattern of yolk and whites.

Slices of bell peppers and onions with a par crunch and button mushrooms.. Simple but yummy. Oh and the chicken. Huge chunks that were surprisingly really tender and moist especially for breast meat.

The bacon or better yet a choice of wieners may have made it more "nostalgic" but the perfectly cooked pasta had too much tooth to be it anyhow, haha. I mean it was great, but Naporitans are known for their expanded overdone noodles. Still I really enjoyed this updated al dente version and the pan-fried lightly sweet ketchup and butter flavor is not the least cloying. At least to me. ;)

Spoon House's One-Dollar Salad was minimally simple but very fresh. Torn lettuce with thin slices of cucumber and tomatoes. The dressing was interesting where it seemed like white onions pulverized in a blender with a pinch of garlic and some light ponzu.

The portion here is pretty large by the way. As it was my first meal of the day I didn't have trouble finishing.

I've since been back and tried their Hamburger Steak ($13.95, came with rice, tea and ice cream).

It was only ok. The description of the pork/beef aibiki ground made it sound promising but the hamburg was minimally fillerized and wasn't chopstick-cut tender. (It is usually smothered in tomato sauce here but I asked for it on the side.) Was nice to sample their meat sauce spaghetti though. Surprisingly wasn't as sweet as I imagined and the tanginess of the tomatoes flavored more towards western tastes I thought.

The Plum and Shiso pasta that a person next to me got smelled divine. I think I'll be sticking to that portion of the menu next time. You know with Kimchee, Chinese Chicken Salad and even a Mexican Spaghetti offered, Spoon House has really stepped beyond and has its own Japanese/Italian/Californian pasta fusion character. They may not all turn out to be my cup of tea but what a neat thing! :)

An Eye Spy L.A. article on Spoon House here.

Spoon House, 1601 W Redondo Beach Blvd, Gardena, CA 90247

There was a really old school barber or "clip joint" in the same building and Leo the owner was nice enough to let me take a few photos. I think he mentioned being in business since 1962. Actually his original response to the question was "Way before you were even born!.." ;)

Thanks Leo! :)

Leo's Clip Joint, 1601 W Redondo Beach Blvd, Gardena, CA 90247


Michael said...

Hi Dennis, that is crazy looking good stuff!! Keep up the good work my friend.

Dennis K. said...

Thanks Michael.. You too!