While I look forward in lunching at Fukada again, after the somewhat so-so Zaru Soba experience and wanting to checkout more Teuchi, or 'handmade' soba spots that So. Cal. had to offer, I decided to trek out to Torrance last weekend to visit Soba Sojibo remembering the friendly word from reader Junichi a while back.
Somehow the directions my phone was giving me to Sojibo was a little off
and driving around I accidentally found another sobaya, Ichimi-An in a quaint, off to the side backstreet. Love when that happens! You can say I
had my Inogashira Goro moment where I easily imagined I was in one of
the Kodoku no Gurume episodes (now in Season Two! But will better explain in a
future "Japanese Food Television Shows I'm Into" post...).
[Ichimi-An Zaru Soba ($6.90) with Kakiage side ($?).]
Located in this rather funky crisscrossed street block across from the katsu specialist Kagura is Ichimi-An (official name Soba-dokoro Ichimi Ann Bamboo Garden). Part of the I-Naba group been told this main store honten has been in business for at least ten years and now have a second in the Rolling Hills Plaza. Although the menu is available on their site, I think the print version is more complete which can be found here.
The place is a smaller operation and decor also kept pretty spartan. You order first at the register situated center of the store and then have seat. Hot or cold tea is self-service as well as the Soba-yu to dilute your mentsuyu later as a soup if you're going the Zaru Soba route (which I did).
A cold day like today I would've went hot but having the zaru I feel you can taste directly the soba's flavors as well as enjoy the more resilient texture being chilled-rinsed. It's also a nice way to check out what gives in the flavor department of dashi in the concentrated mentsuyu dip. I was told a small kakiage donburi rice bowl was popular as a combo but asked if I can have the kakiage by itself as a side wanting to leave room for visiting Sojibo later (which turned out to be in a larger nearby mall I had already driven by earlier twice).
For the price the soba was quite excellent with a great koshi chew and nodogoshi - effortlessly slipping down the chute with decent lingering of soba buckwheat flavor. They were cut thinner than typical and was surprised how well they held together despite. Though may be hard to tell by the photo, portion was also good. But knowing how great they are now, I'd be asking for the extra large serving next time. :) [麺がシコシコしててうまい！]
Later learning that the buckwheat for the soba was imported directly
from Japan in air-conditioned containers wasn't too big of a surprise
maybe. As for the mentsuyu, I think Fukada had the better scratch made flavor edge but Ichimi-An's superior soba noodles easily makes up for it where I wouldn't think twice as to who had the upper hand in overall experience. To the point I had almost forgotten about the seeming previously made kakiage which otherwise had nice flavors of sweet onions and remained crunchy also despite.
Absolutely no regrets in having tried the Zaru but I think the way to go here is hot with whatever toppings fancy's the
person. And so much to choose from!
Ichimi-An Old Torrance location definitely has it's own
unique charm to me, in vibe reminding a lot of many no-frills Teishokuya's in
Japan but with the additional attractive catch of being able to have some handmade soba and udon. Coupled with the few chatter in the background of regular patrons, they made me dust off the ol' "Warm Fuzzies" label tag which I haven't used in a
while. :) Can't wait to be back!
Kodoku no Gurume (Season 1), Episode #7
孤独のグルメ#7 by yamutya1
Kodoku no Gurume (Season 2), Episode #10
孤独のグルメSeason2 第10話 by yamutya1
Ichimi-An Bamboo Garden, 1618 Cravens Ave. Torrance, CA 90501