The forecast showed gloom and rain on Wednesday so naturally Brother Charlie and I made plans to ditch work and subway over it to Daikokuya in L.A.'s Japan Town for some hot ramen, what? After all, could be better than hot ramen after a walk in the rain? Unfortunately things didn't go quite as planned, not too surprising there I suppose, hence the reason why I never plan anything.
Firstly, it did not rain. Thus Brother Charlie and I walked briskly under the sun, jumped onto the train and headed due downtown! Onward ho!
Secondly, it did not rain. Thus Brother Charlie and I walked from the beautiful Union Station to Japan Town, we were getting ever closer to our much awaited destination, Daikokuya. Onward ho!
Thirdly, Daikokuya would not be open today due to remodeling, we stood dumbly outside their door peering in, and surely they were remodeling. There was a unanimous sigh of exasperation 'how could this happen to us?! Surely the world revolves around me'.... 'and me!' There was not a moment to be lost our stomachs begin to growl in discontent and dark menacing clouds begin to form overhead- manifest destiny.
Fourthy, off to Mitsuru Cafe it is, instead. Onward ho!
Neither Brother Charlie or Tummy has ever been to Mitsuru Cafe, but we have often see the woman at the window flipping little red bean pastries, a little worker bee working diligently, cannot burn those pastries, no siree. Through the grapevine we have heard that something was good here.
The restaurant is empty, we are the first people to sit down, the restaurant has opened a mere 1 minute ago. We take off our jackets and get comfortable in the janky booth we have sat in, the restaurant is small, the decoration old and not very well thought out if at all. There is the woman at the window at the front of the restaurant flipping her red bean pastries, working silently but mechanically. There is an older waitress who is somewhat curt but not rude in anyway and so I chalk this up to her disrupted meal as she was sitting at the end of a long counter on the other side of the restaurant eating, munching. There is a middle-aged man who seems to disappear and reappear behind the counter as silent as a ninja, he is no doubt working, perhaps cleaning? But I do not hear one squeek or clink from pots or pans... It is as if a world of Haruki Murakami is set here.
The green tea and the miso soup is the best I've tasted in Los Angeles, some may say that any warm liquid may have more than sufficed however average on this cool day that threatened rain, but I think not, for usually Tummy does not eat miso soup but did finish every last drop of Mitsuru's. Not too salty, not too watered down, with perfect amounts of green onions and tiny tofu bits. And though Tummy does not pretend to be any kind of connoisseur of green tea Tummy found the green tea here at Mitsuru to be fresh tasting and light on the palate which was very pleasing to the senses indeed.
The Tonkatsu Ala Carte was served with two large slices of breaded fried pork with a side of house dressed greens. The plate was larger than imagined and can only be described as sumo sized, good for two average sized tummies. But however delicious the Tonkatsu looked it just did not deliver in taste and was rather plain and surely Tummy has had Tonkatsu elsewhere much more flavorful. On the brighter side... a cup of green tea to wash it down.
Sukiyaki baby! Was splendid, once again this dish was good enough for two. Slices of beef, onions, green onions, tofu, mushrooms and glass noodles, all swimming in hot flavorful beef broth. The ingredients were all there, especially the mushrooms as I watched Brother Charlie (a hater of all things fungi) pick it out and chuck it onto my plate. The broth itself may be debated that it was a bit salty but Tummy has never had Sukiyaki that wasn't so- it is every Sukiyakis right to be a little salty!
The challengers: Tonkatsu Ala Carte versus Sukiyaki. And without much ado, the results...
The winner is, Sukiyaki!
And while I sat across my brother in the semi-lopsided booth facing the front of the restaurant, my eyes constantly diverted to watching the slight Japanese lady mechanically working her magic to make numerous amounts of red bean pastries, I had to have one. I just had to have one. My eyes were in wonder for so long by the makings of these red bean things that now my Tummy agreed with the 'windows to the soul'.
And so, on our way out of the restaurant, I stopped, stared and looked, "one please". I paid $1.25 for one of these red bean cuties, stood outside under the eave of the restaurant and took a bite. The red bean was plentiful at the center of the bready round thing and was sweet, slightly mushy soft, and though the red bean was delightful the texture of the outer bread was not. Tummy found the very outer layer of the bread to be slightly rubbery and did not like the feeling of having to tear rubbery bread and wished it would have been soft, fluffy and moist instead.
Was it an interesting experience? Yes, as new experiences almost always are. Would I go back? Probably not, but if I did I wouldn't be getting the Tonkatsu or the the red bean pastry.
The Damage: $19.25 +/-
1 Tonkatsu a la carte
1 Red bean pastry
117 Japanese Village Plaza Mall
LA CA 90012