Monthly Archives: October 2013

Best Chirashi Bowls in LA

Discover Los Angeles has published its top 10 chirashi bowls in Los Angeles list, found here.  I have tried the ones from Maruhide Uni Club and Morizo Sushi Kaisen.  While these are certainly good, I think the chirashi bowls from Akasaka and K-Zo are much better.  I think the author is seriously missing out….

 

Akasaka’s chirashi bowl – overflowing with seafood! What more can you ask for?

 

K-Zo’s chirashi bowl – simple yet fresh

 

Morizo Sushi Kaisen’s chirashi bowl – much more than a take-out sushi place.  The fish comes in huge chunks!

 

Maruhide Uni Club’s chirashi bowl — it’s all about the uni/sea urchin!

 

Marugame Monzo もんぞう

329 E 1st St
Los Angeles, CA 90012
Neighborhoods: Downtown, Little Tokyo

(213) 346-9762

Mon-Sun 11:30 am – 2:30 pm

Mon-Sun 5 pm – 10 pm

http://www.yelp.com/biz/marugame-monzo-los-angeles-2

 

I first read about Marugame Monzo from Discover LA’s Best Japanese Noodles list back in July.   I was sold when I heard that they have a uni udon pasta with glowing Yelp reviews.  Even Jonathan Gold went to try it!

Marugame Monzo is right next to the well known Daikokuya Ramen in Little Tokyo.  Its small facade is certainly easy to miss.  And since it’s next to Daikokuya, you might mistaken Daikokuya’s notoriously long line with Marugame’s (although I’m sure Marugame has, by now, gathered quite a large following).  The star of the show at Marugame Monzo is the udon, fresh handmade udon.  Come early or prepare to wait.  The restaurant is small with hardly any ventilation — we arrived 15 minutes after the restaurant opened for lunch on a Saturday and was lucky enough to sit at the last empty seats, at the counter, with a front-row view of the udon-making. Street parking, as many of you know, is tough in Little Tokyo.  So, go for one of the parking lots!

 

The store front.  It’s quite small, so look for the sign.  There was a long line by the time we left.

 

 

Size of the restaurant.  Yes, it’s just a few tables and a few seats at the counter.

 

Watch udon being made!  It is really quite impressive.

 

The menu

 

Mentai bowl – spicy cod roe over rice.  The mentai was really fresh and went great with the warm rice.  $4 with any udon order.

 

Uni cream udon – it was an off-menu special, but I think it’s on the menu now.  There was so much uni in the udon, and lots of uni flavor in the cream sauce!  Loved it!  The udon was kind of al dente and went really well with the sauce.  I do have to say though, portion is generous, and by the end of my last noodle, it was a bit too rich and creamy for me. $16

 

Will definitely be back to try the traditional Japanese udon!

K-ZO

9240 Culver Blvd
Culver City, CA 90232

(310) 202-8890

 

http://www.k-zo.com/

http://www.yelp.com/biz/k-zo-culver-city

 

I found this great spot while perusing through the menus during the last DineLA event back in July.  Although reviews were really great, I wasn’t expecting much, since c’mon, how great can sushi be on the Westside when compared to Little Tokyo or South Bay?  But I’m happy to say, it quite blew me away!

The restaurant is located right next to the Trader Joe’s in downtown Culver City.  Parking is easy — just park in the same structure as Trader Joes, first 2 hours is free if I remember correctly.  There is limited sushi bar seating, and the restaurant is not big by any means, so reservations are recommended.  Service was quick and friendly.  Food was so good that I went there twice during DineLA week!  🙂

 

 

So here’s what I tried for the DineLA dinner prix fixe ($45):

Loved how the hot tea is served in a pot!

 

Spicy tuna crispy — spicy tuna on baked brown rice cracker .  The rice cracker was a bit too dense, but the spicy tuna was really good.  Supplemental appetizer $7.

 

Oyster Half Shell with Uni & Caviarfresh oyster in half shell topped with sea urchin and caviar (2 pcs).  This was so luxurious that it’s almost sinful, although I couldn’t really taste the caviar.  I didn’t think uni would go well with oysters, but wow, yum yum yum!

 

We also got a albacore salad to share.  6 large slices of tuna with garlic ponzu sauce.  This was very tasty!  $18

 

Assorted sashimi – salmon, maguro and albacore tuna.  The salmon was one of the best I’ve had — just melted in my mouth!  All the fish was really fresh.

 

Lobster roll with asparagus wrapped in soy paper.  The lobster tail is just for show — the meat is all in the roll already.  This was good but not as mind-blowing as the uni oyster or the sashimi.

 

Dessert – I think this had to be the show-stopper!  There was so many ingredients in this dessert, it was almost insane.  It’s vanilla ice topped with taro sauce, mochi balls, fresh mangos strawberries and blueberries, slivered almonds, and finally finished off with 2 Pocky sticks.  The combo worked though and it was awesome!  Not sure if they have this all the time or if it was a DineLA special…

 

And here’s the DineLA lunch prix fixe ($25 per set):

Started off with some miso soup.  Miso soup is miso soup, not bad.

 

Lunch set #1

First course – crab sunomono – crab with cucumber and seaweed in sweet vinegar sauce.  Pretty refreshing.

 

Second course:  deluxe sushi assortment — unagi, shrimp, whitefish, yellow-tail, salmon, albacore and maguro nigiri with a popcorn shrimp with asparagus roll.  I tried a few of the sushi and they were really good!

 

Lunch set #2

First course:  seafood tempura — salmon, whitefish, shrimp and calamari.  The tempura was crispy yet light.  Loved it!

 

Second course:  Chirashi — I think the picture pretty much says it all — it’s an assortment of salmon, shrimp, albacore, whitefish, salmon egg, spicy tuna and egg cake on a bed of sushi rice.  The fish was very fresh and the portion was generous.  Delicious!

 

Can’t wait for the next DineLA to start in January!!!