SF Chowhound here, spending a couple weeks with the family in Long Beach. Spent the day in the South Bay and was able to hit Santouka Ramen for lunch and Komatsu Tempura for dinner. Penzey's and Mitsuwa shopping in between.
Santouka was easily one of the best ramens I have had, with bright, distinct broth flavors and delicious fatty pork. While I don't attest to be much of a ramen expert, the noodles had great bite and were delicious. I managed to eat the entire bowl. The scene at Mitsuwa on a Saturday is quite intense, and very fun. I had to search around for the restaurant and then for a seat, but it was well worth it.
I got to Komatsu at 6, which seemed a bit early for their dinner as I was the only customer for most of the time. I have to admit a tiny bit of apprehension when I walked in, thinking that maybe the oil wouldn't be hot enough as I was the only patron. I didn't need to worry about that. I passed on the omakase, as I knew I wouldn't be able to eat that much food. The tempura dinner that I had proved to be way too much food as it was. I recommend the tempura dinner eaten at the bar if you are a newbie to the restaurant. The dinner seems to give a good tour of their offerings, and eating at the bar allows the chef to watch you and see exactly when you are ready for the next dish, which is such a treat with something like tempura. I will definitely be back with a bigger appetite for the omakase offering.
The tempura batter was delicious and light, each offering fried the exact right amount of time. The complimentary soup was made with a dark miso and had an intense, deep flavor. The condiments for the tempura included dipping sauce as well as three delicious salts -- green tea salt, a plain tempura salt, and lemon salt.
A quick note to the non-Japanese crowd about Komatsu: When I walked in, there was a bit of discussion as they warned me "we don't have sushi or teriyaki or combination dinners." I just smiled and said I was there to eat great tempura. After that, the staff was super nice and accomodating. It's just one of those places that, when you walk in, you feel a tad tested before you get to sit down.
THANKS CHOWHOUNDS - both of these recommendations were from you, and I had a fantastic day.
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