>> Otafuku | Eat the World Los Angeles

Monday, 27 December 2021

Otafuku

JAPAN 🇯🇵
Western Avenue facade
COVID-19 UPDATE: The restaurant is open at standards close to pre-pandemic. The staff all wear masks, and there are some tables in the back lot which seem reserved for families with unvaccinated children.


Despite being well-known by its surrounding community in Gardena and those interested in foods throughout wider Los Angeles, little two-room Otafuku has kept its very reserved profile on Western Avenue for its over two decades of life since opening in the late 90's. Without word of mouth, you would fly by without looking twice. And this is probably for the best, as the restaurant is no secret and often gets very busy.

While it sort of hides out in the open on busy Western Avenue, Otafuku is the modest type of place you might find on a small alley in a Japanese city with a solitary red lantern outside displaying the kanji for izakaya on it. The type of place full of folks out for a night of drinking, which in Japan must include plenty of delicious eating options. In Otafuku, which means much good fortune, no one will look twice if you do not order any alcohol because their food is so good.

Counter seats overlook the busy kitchen

Like any great izakaya, the menu is expansive and can cover any direction you want to bring your meal. It also seems to have a lot of more special and/or rare things that are not seen on a ton of other menus around town. Most likely at dinner there could be a wait if you show up unannounced, but it is always worth it as proven by the wide variety and ages of customers who are consistently enjoying meals.

For good reason, one of the most sought after items here is the soba, made by hand daily. They make three types, of which the most popular and distinct is the seiro, a white noodle that uses only the heart of buckwheat. Classic brown zaru soba is also available and great in hot broth, as well as a 100% buckwheat (no flour) noodle known as kikouchi. More on these sobas down near their photos below.

Mozuku - Okinawa seaweed with vinegar
Mozuku - Okinawa seaweed with vinegar ($7)

Shiitake mushroom
Shiitake mushroom ($3.50)

Fried shishito peppers with baby dried sardines
Fried shishito peppers with baby dried sardines ($8)

Dashimaki tamago - Jidori omelette
Dashimaki tamago - Jidori omelette ($8)

Gomaae - Boiled spinach with sesame dressing
Gomaae - Boiled spinach with sesame dressing ($7)

Gyu dashi - beef tendon in dashi
Gyu dashi - beef tendon in dashi ($8.50)

Gyu negi - beef tendon in ponzu sauce
Gyu negi - beef tendon in ponzu sauce ($8.50)

Wild shrimp tempura
Wild shrimp tempura ($16)

All soba noodles are extremely firm at Otafuku but give way to your teeth with a sort of melt-in-your-mouth character. Chewing on them reveals how recently they were made and how much love went into making each strand.

On hot days, the dining room is notoriously steamy and the cold dipping noodles are the way to go. Especially with the zaro, a hot bowl is perfect on colder winter nights. You can get combination meals with tempura and other items or order everything a la carte.

Cold seiro soba with dipping sauce
Cold seiro soba with dipping sauce ($20 large order)

Hot zaru soba
Hot zaru soba ($14)

Karaage - Deep fried jidori chicken
Karaage - Deep fried jidori chicken ($14)

Tsukune - Ground jidori chicken meatball yakitori
Tsukune - Ground jidori chicken meatball yakitori ($4.50)

Deep fried breaded Berkshire pork cutlet
Kurobuta - Deep fried breaded Berkshire pork cutlet ($13)

Grilled miso marinated sea bass
Grilled miso marinated sea bass ($23)

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