Samo suggested in an earlier post that I probably detested salad. I have no idea why anyone would think this. Samo, why would you think that? I love salad. I adore salad. The holy trinity of the great single home-cooked meal is: parchment-baked salmon, mashed yukon gold sweet potatoes, balsamic vinagrette over good wild greens.
BUT: I do rarely mention salads in posting, because I have a hard time beating getting some greens from the good stall at the farmer's market and dressing it with a little artisinal balsamic. (Bay Cities is my current in-town supplier for this little expensive habit.) I can't really justify spending what little lucre I have on salad outside, just like I can't justify walking into a bar and getting a good single malt. Have yet to have a salad at any continental joint that can match what I can whip up at home. (Maybe I would get a salad at Chez Panisse).
A FURTHER BUT: There is one exception (though I am willing to entertain others, if there are any suggestions). I am mad about the salads you get in Japanese restaurants. Always: crappy, very crisp iceberg, and then the most delightful dressings I've ever had. Sometimes miso-based, sometimes sesame based, I've never been unhappy by a salad in a Japanese place, as long as it isn't a truly depraved American place. (The only bad Japanese salad I've had in recent memory was at a joint in San Diego where, for tempura, they served frozen-fried-fishsticks-style-breaded-imitation-crab with tartar sauce.)
But what are these mysterious things on Japanese salads? I can't recreate them at home. So:
1. Where are the best Japanese salads in town?
(my current preference is for a cheap dive on Sawtelle, some single door in a recessed parking lot a few buildings north of FuRaiBo, where the salad comes with some al dente noodles with some kind of sweet miso-y substance - A SECOND DRESSING ON A SINGLE SALAD.
2. What is the secret of the Japanese dressing?
3. How do I make it at home?
4. Are there any decent brands I can get at a Japanese grocery?