What do we have to satisfy us soba-fiends? There's the old favorite Otafuku, but there's another choice now: Gonpachi. la2tokyo says that Gonpachi is "the only place in Los Angeles" that grinds its own soba flour. "Although other restaurants in Los Angeles are making handmade soba, if the soba flour is old or not ground freshly the soba will lack flavor and aroma. I haven't weighed in on this thread because I haven't been to most of the restaurants people are mentioning, but among the ones I have been to, including Otafuku, the handmade soba had decent texture but lacked flavor and aroma compared to soba in Japan."
Adds TracyS, the Gonpachi at the Miyako Hybrid Hotel is light-years better in food and ambiance than the Beverly Hills location.
If you're going to Otafuku, keep in mind, says la2tokyo, that they use slightly different naming conventions. The "seiro" soba is made with sarashina soba flour. What's normally called "seiro" in other places—soba made with 100 percent buckwheat flour—is called kikouchi at Otafuku.
"I'm not saying Otafuku is bad," says la2tokyo. "I eat there all the time. There isn't much of a comparison between what we have in LA and what you can eat in Japan. Serious soba fanatics in Japan debate over the quality of buckwheat from each growing region and the quality of crop from year to year."
Otafuku [South Bay]
16525 S. Western Avenue, Gardena
Gonpachi Torrance [South Bay]
21381 S. Western Avenue, Torrance
Discuss: Finding great soba in Los Angeles