Before leaving town for the holidays, The Astronomer and I had a highly-anticipated date with Mario, Nancy and Joseph at Osteria Mozza. Reservations at Mozza are still tough to come by, and we made ours a full month in advance to secure a table for two on a Saturday night. When the big night finally rolled around, the fine dining gods were not on our side.
While copying down driving directions, The Astronomer mistakenly wrote 110 freeway instead of 101. In Los Angeles, a simple traffic misstep can cost some serious time. We ended up arriving at Osteria Mozza half an hour late only to find out that our precious table was given up to a prompt party. It turns out that thirty minutes was twenty too many, even though we had called ahead to inform the maitre’d that we were running late. Wah wah. Down, but not out, we made a new reservation for three weeks down the road. We left the restaurant feeling disappointed and hungry. Without a game plan, we headed to nearby Koreatown.
After aimlessly driving down Sixth Street, we pulled into Shoubo Izakaya. I’ve eaten a lot of small plates in my day, but never of the Japanese variety. As we entered the restaurant, the waitstaff shouted out something in Japanese that I could’t quite catch. Whatever it was, we felt welcomed.
The Astronomer and I were seated in a six-person booth in one of the two main dining sections. We were presented with lengthy picture menus that were quite busy. Rather than navigate the confusing menu, I asked our waitress what dishes were most popular with diners. She recommended the Asari Sakamushi, clams steamed in sake, which were served on a Japanese mini-grill ($9.99). The clams were on the small side; however, the clam juice combined with the sake created a subtle and delicious broth. Although it probably wasn’t customary to slurp the hot broth using long-handled spoons, The Astronomer and I did just that.
Next, our waitress recommended the Okonomiyaki-style chicken skewers ($9.99). The chicken was slathered in a spicy, Okonomiyaki sauce and covered with bonito flakes. I can definitely see the appeal of this dish through the eyes of a drunken reveler, but this was my least favorite because of its one-dimensional flavor profile. Grilled chicken marinated in Sriracha sauce? Yawn…
The darling of the evening was the Agedashi Tofu ($8.99). This dish is comprised of silken tofu lightly dusted with potato starch or cornstarch and deep fried until golden brown. The tofu is served in a hot tentsuyu broth made of dashi (a seaweed broth), mirin (rice wine), and shoyu (soy sauce), and topped with finely chopped negi (a type of spring onion). The broth also contained enoki mushrooms. The tofu tasted fresh and pure, while the broth had a light, but distinct flavor. The Agedashi Tofu was truly a lovely little number.
3421 W 6th St.
Los Angeles, CA 90020