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Showing posts with label udon. Show all posts
Showing posts with label udon. Show all posts

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Yabu in West Los Angeles - Authentic Japanese

Living in Southern California, we enjoy rich ethnic diversity. Those of us who explore culture through cuisine are very happy about that.
Located in West Los Angeles, a good example of a neighborhood Japanese restaurant, Yabu (11820 W. Pico Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90064; 310-473-9757has a devoted following.
Because Yabu has a much larger, sister restaurant in West Hollywood, when you call to make a reservation, you will be asked to confirm that you want to eat at the Pico restaurant.
You do.
There are lots of chain restaurants with Japanese names, but Yabu is the real deal. The kitchen prepares authentic Japanese comfort food, not unlike what you would eat in Tokyo or Kyoto.
Serving lunch (Mon.-Sat.) and dinner (Mon.-Sun.), the restaurant is perfect to drop in for a quick bite at the sushi bar or with family and friends to hang out at one of the tables tucked into the corners of the room.
Order cups of hot green tea, ice cold bottles of Japanese beers or hot (or cold) sake and try out new dishes as you enjoy easy conversation and good food.
The sushi selections are always fresh and made with precision. Affordable—unless you go crazy—sushi and sashimi can be ordered individually or as combination platters.
The beef tataki, a Japanese version of carpaccio, and the albacore tuna tataki are especially tasty (our son Franklin's favorites). The ponzu dressing is spicy enough to bring out the best of both.
In no particular order, here are some of the dishes we order whenever we visit: fried tofu, stir-fried lotus root (kimpira renkon), edamame, ten don (tempura shrimp and vegetables over seasoned steamed rice), eggplant, spinach in a miso sauce, miso soup, shishito green peppers, black cod and soboro don (finely minced chicken cooked in a ginger soy sauce with a bit of heat and served over donburi rice).
Come at lunchtime and try the combination of noodle soup (soba or udon) and sushi. Affordable and freshly made, the soup is light and flavorful, the noodles chewy and delicious. 
One of my favorites is the tempura udon. Inside the large bowl of soup are chewy udon noodles, slices of fish cake, vegetables and tempura. Ask for the vegetable and shrimp tempura on the side so they stay crisp and crunchy.
Yabu's tempura may be some of the best in Los Angeles. Light and fresh tasting, the shrimp, seaweed square, lotus root and sweet potato have their flavors enhanced, not overwhelmed, by the batter.
Everyone has his or her favorite sushi; mine are tamago (egg), baked crab in a hand roll (on the dinner specials menu) and spicy tuna.
For a small restaurant with a kitchen about the size of a Mini Cooper, you'll be surprised at the plentiful menu.
Make reservations by calling 310-473-9757 and be sure to mention you want to dine at the Pico location. Valet parking is available. Pay in cash and receive a 10 percent discount.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Udon Finds the Perfect Partners: Clams, Mushrooms, and Garlic

These days udon is almost as ubiquitous as ramen. Served in a hot bowl of fragrant soup, udon satisfies as much with its texture as its flavor. Fat and chewy, the soft noodles are as comforting as dumplings.

Recently we visited Musha, a Tokyo style Izakaya restaurant (424 Wilshire Boulevard in downtown Santa Monica, 310/576-6330). Serving drinks and Japanese tapas--meats grilled at the table on charcoal braziers, sushi, noodles, and soups--the restaurant serves a delicious example of fusion cuisine: Udon Vongole. Using a European approach, the salty clam broth is sweetened with slices of garlic and handfuls of mushrooms.

Since Carlsbad Aquafarm had more of their delicious clams at the Santa Monica Farmers' Market, tonight seemed like the perfect time to make the dish at home.

Udon with Clams, Mushrooms, and Garlic


Fresh udon is sold in Asian markets like Nijiya Markets and even some supermarkets. Following Musha's example I used several varieties of mushrooms. The different textures and flavors added to the pleasures of the dish.

Yield: 2 servings

Time: 30 minutes

Ingredients

2 packages fresh udon
2 pounds live clams, washed
6 cloves garlic, peeled, sliced thin
2 large shallots, peeled, sliced thin
1 tablespoon sweet butter
1 pound mushrooms (shiitake, brown, King trumpet, oyster mushrooms), washed, dried, cut in half
1 tablespoon cilantro leaves, washed, stems removed
Olive oil
Pepper

Method

Steam the clams in 1/2 cup water in a covered pot for 3 minutes. Set aside to cool. Remove the clams from their shells. Pour the broth into a bowl, being careful to discard any grit. You should have 1 1/2 cups of broth.

Sauté the garlic, shallots, and mushrooms with the olive oil until lightly browned. Add the clam broth and butter. Simmer 15 minutes. Season with pepper but don't add salt since the clam broth is salty.

Boil a quart of water. Add the packages of udon. The boiling water will soften the udon in 2-3 minutes. Drain the udon and add to the mushrooms and garlic and stir.

Taste the broth. If it's too salty, add a bit more butter. Add the clams at the last minute so they don't over cook. Serve in deep bowls and top with the cilantro leaves.