Tuesday, December 10, 2013

160. Please Experience the Softness of Kakuni Pork at Tsujita LA (West LA: Sawtelle)

Grace and I stopped by Tsujita LA Artisan Noodle for their ever popular tsukemen for dinner, but we found out that this main location serves the famous noodles only during the lunch rush.  We were not the only guests that were met with this unexpected news... but while everyone else crossed the street over to Tsujita Annex where the ramen is served during dinner, the two of us stayed to explore the evening menu.

The uni tempura with matcha sea salt combined some of my favorite Japanese ingredients with an adored method of preparation.  For this dish, a shiso leaf is dipped into tempura batter on one side only and deep fried to an unbelievable crisp.  Next, luxuriously creamy pieces of fresh sea urchin roe top the delicate and crunchy shiso.  Finally, sea salt blended with traditional green tea powder is sprinkled over the top.  The sea urchin itself is not actually cooked, thankfully, because only raw uni is ever so rich and creamy.  This uni tempura is unforgettable and must be ordered.

Since it was promised to be super fresh, we also got the sea urchin in uni shooter form.  Hidden under the cover of quail egg and green onion was fresh urchin with ponzu sauce.  It was cleverly presented, but it isn't my preferred way to savor fresh uni.

Okay, hold onto your chopsticks.  The one dish that Grace and I could not stop fawning over was the pork kakuni plate.  It is basically a cube of fatty pork belly that is slowly stewed in soy and sauce along with other spices until the fat renders down and infuses itself back into the meat.  The menu suggests to "please experience the softness," which is exactly what we did.  When we tried to break off pieces of it to eat over the rice, the sinews of the pork pulled apart the way melted cheese would on a pizza.  It was juicy beyond comprehension, succulent beyond compare, and tender beyond all possibility.  It melts in your mouth.  It really melts.  You barely have to chew.

The eggs and greens are a nice addition, but they pale in comparison to the pork.  Because the pork is so fatty, the greens perhaps may have been better served outside of the sugary soy sauce... and to really complement the supple texture of the pork, a soft boiled egg with the orgasmic runny yolk would have been a wise choice.  But forget about the sidekicks.  The star is the soft kakuni pork.  I don't even recall picking up the miso soup.

While it isn't something many would think to order, the handmade tofu with green onions and grated ginger is highly recommended as well.  Anytime tofu or cheese is made my hand, there is extra depth to the flavor possibly due to the naturally imperfect textures of the curd.  It tastes much fresher and less processed.  But who wants tofu when you can have delicious pork belly? It's not to be missed.  Until next time, let's all get S.O.F.A.T.

Tsujita LA Artisan Noodle
2057 Sawtelle Blvd.
Sawtelle, West LA
Los Angeles, CA 90025

ML - 20131017

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