Saturday, August 4, 2012

(Edomae) Ten-Don Hannosuke - Santa Monica

[Update: My last revisit March of 2013 can be read here.]

Mentioned in a previous post, had a chance to drop by Mitsuwa Santa Monica a couple months back and try out the new Hannosuke for their Edomae-style Ten-don (tempura donburi). My second was much more impressive than the first so will be starting with. Was during Mitsuwa SM's anniversary sale and decided to go with the limited time shrimp-centric Ebi Ten-don ($12.95, with Miso Soup). Was a bit cozy inside and the place gave me a strange sensation of maybe having visited before, back in the late '90s when I used to live in L.A. but couldn't quite remember for sure.



Anyway my meal looked to be my first Edomae Bowl but with few extra shrimp replacing the large Anago (sea eel). Turned out to be a good decision but the best one I made the day was me walking the way over to a small counter with stools by the entrance. I couldn't find any seat the hour otherwise but definitely made for much better photos than the dimly lit food court.



Some may have heard the term Edomae (old Tokyo-style) referenced to a genre of Sushi. A specific style of preparation, the neta often lightly marinated or flavored for one, but more so the title reserved to sushi made with fish caught directly in Tokyo Bay. The latter should technically hold true to Ten-Don with the same descriptor, but characteristics of Edomae Ten-don also generally refers to a more bold flavored style fonded by the fast paced lifestyle of Edokko, kimono sporting Proto-Tokyo urbanites. The culture you can say that sprouted the origins of the true first Japanese fast foods.

Compared to subtle flavors of Kansai, here things tend to be flavored with more gusto. A stronger flavored sauce and also the use of sesame oil in the fry. Hannosuke I heard uses a blend but it is pleasantly nutty and the aroma for me appetite stimulating.



In Ten-don (or maybe donburi mono in general) I always felt one shouldn't expect each and every tempura to be crispy. It is drizzled in an amount of sauce and resting on a bed of steaming rice, so you'll have your crispy portions and others of lightly steeping in tasty tsuyu. What I do expect though is that each piece is warm and made to order. This bowl was much better than my first, the shrimp fried well (and fresh) where I was able to eat up to and including the crunchy tails. The Satsuma Imo sweet potato and Sheet Nori seaweed I could tell was from a batch much in advance but was still crispy helped by their thinness. Shishito pepper was also nice (probably fried with the shrimp), the small Kakiage of smaller shrimp and scallops could've had more flavor and probably would've stayed crisp longer if they weren't from frozen. The soft boiled egg is a Hannosuke thing which you don't find often in Ten-don. A great Yolkalicioius addition that more should copy if you would ask me! ;)

I have to say I did have higher expectations from the sauce which was supposedly a handed down secreted recipe. Never tried the original in Nihonbashi, but at least here I found it rather one-dimensional and for an Edomae should've been less sweet and have more Bonito stock flavor. On the splurgy side for food court food but all in all I felt not bad for the amount of seafood, fill and maybe more unique flavor profile.



One of my errands the particular weekend was dropping by Hennessey & Ingalls. I hadn't been in a long while and there's nothing remotely comparable in SD.



Ah, I ♥ the smell of books!



Couldn't resist getting something. Yay.



Below my Edomae Ten-don ($12.95) that I had my first visit. Includes miso soup and some pickles. The only other offered is the Original ($8.95) which comes with Kisu (type of white fish) instead of the large Anago.



This day things were a little busier but peeking into the kitchen I felt there was no reason to fry that many items ahead of time as they did, especially the Anago which is supposedly from Tokyo. Getting this from our Kayaba is one thing, but from Hannosuke I felt they should stick with smaller batches if at all. The large sea eel was room temperature by the time they were between my chopsticks. The miso soup was surprisingly very typical as well and could've been from any other Japanese food stall. The pickles are your Gari sweet ginger that you'd see with sushi which I enjoyed with, echoing a similar but not identical side with Gobo from the original shop. I could live with that but I really wished they brought over their special Shichimi.



For me Hannosuke fell a bit short of being that game changing food court Ten-don shop as Santouka had become for ramen. But if I were back in the area I wouldn't hesitate in ordering from them again. Just probably would be getting the Original that I think is the better value. I would then lips-to-bowl proceed to bulldoze the tasty meal down and hurriedly go about my next business. Teyandei!



[My last revisit March of 2013 they have made some noticeable improvements and can be read here.]

Tendon Hannosuke (Mitsuwa Santa Monica food court), 3760 S. Centinela Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90066

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