After the surprising good quick meal at Ichimi-An, I finally found Soba Sojibo in a nearby mall that I had driven by twice (argh!). Light searching "そじ坊" later on google, it seems they are a chain from Japan under the larger Gurume Kinuya umbrella, the same group responsible for both Mugimaru and DonDon-Tei in the Mitsuwa Costa Mesa food court. Things then started to connect and make sense.
[$7.50 Lunch Zaru Soba Combination (shown, Mentai-tororo-don) at Sojibo.]
The interior is warm and very welcoming, done quite nice with even a few private rooms in the back for larger parties. The menu is
without any udon and completely soba-centered with several tempura and
donburi rice bowls to be had along as a combo or a la carte. They were
all so tempting! And at least for lunch priced attractively.
I was torn between the duck Kamo Nanban, Curry Nanban, and as for sides
maybe the Negitoro-don and your basic Oyako-don. The latter only because
you often hear katsu and oyako-dons are good at sobaya's due to
their usually superior dashi.
[Complimentary Fried Soba Chips at Sojibo.]
On top of these there are also daily specials where the weekend day I was visiting it happened to be with a buta-bara
pork bowl. Since it was again a first visit, I went with a simple Zaru
Soba for the same reasons of gauging the flavors, but I do happen to
like the dipping cold zaru or seiro style given the choice between the hot.
What I immediately noticed was that of the mentsuyu condiments (called yakumi),
the wasabi was a raw grated nama type, something usually seen served
with higher end sushi and sashimi. The soba noodles themselves were
pretty decent, a good notch above off-shelf, but easily paled in
comparison to Ichimi-An's. After asking, the proprietary noodles were
said to be made fresh in-house, but mechanically and not teuchi in the purist sense. Still I feel they were a leap forward from those near textureless soba served at most mom-n-pop or express shops.
[Mentai-tororo-don (Spicy Cod Roe with Grated Mountain Yam over Rice) side.]
Mentai-tororo-don was nice and fresh tasting too. I enjoy on
occasion Teriyaki Chicken and California Rolls as much as the next person but it's refreshing to have these non-cookie cutter Japanese as options for a
change. I poured over some of the leftover mentsuyu and slurped it up
with chopsticks lips-to-bowl. The remaining dip I'd dilute with some soba-yu (starchy
water used to boil the noodles) to have as a final light tsuyu flavored
While strictly soba speaking I have to say
I preferred the wonderfully resilient シコシコ noodles (and quaint atmosphere)
of Ichimi-An, it's bargain city at Sojibo for lunch and I can
easily see myself dining here again. Again it's all about having options and while I dream of
having something like Ichimi-An in SD, I'd more than welcome Sojibo if
they ever decided to expand here too.
Soba Sojibo, 1757 W. Carson St., Torrance, CA