While braised meats are often reserved for colder months and smoothies for warmer ones, soba slurping is a special sport that knows no meteorological bounds.
At Ichimi An Bamboo Garden, soba noodles are made from scratch each morning using buckwheat flour shipped straight from Japan. These wonderfully firm strands with a distinctly earthy essence are served either chilled with a dipping sauce or in hot broth as a noodle soup. Regardless of what the weather man predicts, the conditions are always ripe for soba.
The Astronomer and I were greeted with a line snaking through the restaurant when we arrived on Saturday afternoon. We placed our order at the cash register and hoped that seats would open up by the time our lunch arrived. Sure enough, the kitchen’s rhythm synched with the pace of diners and a table freed just in time.
Hot soba may have its devotees, but here in balmy Los Angeles the cold stuff always hits the spot. My order was served on a sieve-like bamboo tray called a zaru and garnished with dried seaweed.
A dish filled with scallions, toasted sesame seeds, and wasabi, as well as a bowl full of salty sweet dipping sauce (soba tsuyu), was served on the side. To eat, I finessed a small amount of soba with my chopsticks, swirled it in the tsuyu, and delivered it straight to my lips. The florescent pickles made for a snappy and tangy diversion.
Ichimi An Bamboo Garden also makes thick and slippery udon noodles in-house. A plethora of garnishes including tempura, seaweed, raw eggs, fried bean curd, and pickled plums are on hand to top the simple noodles. The Astronomer decided on a bowl of udon swimming in Japanese curry; it was perfectly palatable, but not exemplary like its soba sister.
Ichimi An Bamboo Garden
1618 Cravens Avenue
Torrance, CA 90501
One year ago: National Bundt Day: Orange Cardamom Cake
Two years ago: Soy Sauce Brined Turkey
Three years ago: Cookin’ with Coolio: Strawberry Hills Banana Muffins Forever
Four years ago: Savory Stromboli
Five years ago: Mì Quảng – Da Nang
Six years ago: Rachael’s Nosheri – Philadelphia