16525 S Western Ave
Gardena, CA 90247
Otafuku has been on my Yelp bookmark list for a few years, but with so many Japanese restaurants in the South Bay area, there’s simply too many choices that I didn’t have the chance to try it out until recently. Boy, I didn’t know what I was missing!!!
First of all, it’s a little tricky to find the restaurant. It’s very unassuming if you’re just driving on Western – it’s very easy to miss. Trust your GPS. There is a small parking lot in the back of the restaurant – by small, I mean, it’d be hard for full-size cars to get in and out of the spaces. Street parking also seems pretty easy. Also, the entrance to the restaurant is through the BACK! Now once you’re in the restaurant, it’s actually pretty spacious inside… and looks like a modern Japanese diner, with an open kitchen. Portions are generous, food is great and service is pretty fast.
The lunch menu is simple but really good value. The dinner menu encompasses the lunch menu (although $3+ more per entree than the lunch price), and also has sushi and yakitori items.
The lunch menu is a good deal – on the front page, choose between cold or hot noodles. If going with the cold noodle option, you get to choose between 4 different noodles. Then, you choose between the type of ingredients in your noodle. There’s also the option to add a mini shrimp tempura bowl for $3.50 or horse mackerel bowl for $4.
Flip over the menu, and you’ll see that Otafuku also offers rice dishes, sides and dessert.
The only condiments at the table are Chinese spices (left) and mountain peppers (right).
The horse mackerel bowl wasn’t at all what I had expected. It’s slivers of raw horse mackerel with fresh sprouts, on a bed of warm rice. The mackerel had a great al dente texture to it. It was actually really fresh and refreshing. $4
Cold seiru noodles (made from the heart of the buckwheat seed) with sea eel and vegetable tempura — mix the scallions and wasabi into the sauce, for dipping the cold noodles. Sea eel seems to be the trendy tempura item of late – it actually tastes more like fish than the eel (unagi) that many of you have eaten. The piece of sea eel was huge and perfectly fried; it was more than enough for 2 people. The other tempura was good too. I’ve never had seiru noodles before and had expected it to taste like soba noodles. However, the texture more resembles rice vermicelli. I’m not a big fan of rice vermicelli, so I will opt for the regular soba noodles next time. $13.50
From the waitress’ recommendation, we also ordered the hot udon with fish cake tempura. Do not let the name mislead you – it’s actually a large piece of fried shrimp and scallop goodness!!! So yummy… and the hot udon with the broth was great too. I think I’ve found my new favorite comfort food. $10