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Restaurants & Bars 7

No Soba!!! Making due with Ramen and Goodies at Chabuya...

Dommy! | Mar 6, 200608:19 PM

A few months ago we began our search for awesome soba on Sawtelle. We live by the Mitsuwa on Venice and Centinella and SO waxes poetic about the awesome soba that was once made by a young chef there. Sadly, he decided to hang up his Chef’s whites one day and the soba hasn’t been the same since.

We already know about Otafuku, the handmade soba place in Gardena, and we plan to go there soon, but still didn’t see why yummy Soba could not be had in our own backyard so to speak. So as we began our walk down Sawtelle I noticed a new restaurant in the same complex as Orris. It called itself a Chabuya, Tokyo Noodle Bar and it was bustling! We took a look at the menu and saw no Soba. So instead continued our search until we hit Place Yuu and had a wonderful bowl there. Not sublime, but still really good.

I was still very curious about Chabuya and the very next day we saw posting on Chowhound. We had stumbled across its opening day! But the posts were mixed… the noodle wasn’t right, broth too salty… I read each post that came after with deep interest, hoping that they would soon hit their stride. And a few weeks ago, there was such a post. Further, the post mentioned them serving Soba… That was it, and on Thursday of last week, we drove straight down.

We arrived a little after 6:30 and the place was only about ½ full. The room is very casual and the service nice. I had a bad day and was HUNGRY, so I was ready to taste that ramen… and so we ordered…

Mini Pork Bun Sandwich
Shrimp Shumai
Pork Gyoza
Chicken Soba
Special Pork Soba with Miso
One BIG Asahi (I need it!)

First came out the panfried gyoza. About five good sized, perfectly crisp gyoza with a slightly loose meat filling. Very tasty and served with spicy mustard. Quiet possibly the best gyoza I’ve ever had.

Shortly came out the Shrimp Shumai, these were AMAZING. Large and very delicately made with chunks of shrimp. They had chile oil on the table which just set them off perfectly. Just sublime

The pacing was wonderful because after another little while came out the mini pork bun sandwich is just the CUTEST thing. A little roll of Chinese steamed bread and on the side was two thin sliced super crisp rounds of fatty pork, fresh crisp lettuce, little slices of ripe tomato and cups of Mayo and Ketchup. We splut the bun in half and had BLT open faced sandwiches. Again, a really great way to start the meal…
And so with such successes in our starters, we were anxious to try our soups… sadly, the excitement did not hold.

Upon placement of the soba, we noticed the noodles looked exactly like my ramen noodles. They weren’t soba at all. We even called over the waitress and she said those were the correct noodles. The broth was clear, light in flavor. The noodles did have some tooth, and weren’t mushy at all, but overall the soup was slightly bland.

As for my soup, it came with the same almost perfectly done noodles, but also melty pieces of fatty pork and a rich thick brownish broth. It almost looked like a gravy! The flavor was STRONG, very funky and hit me hard. I added some spice and vinegar to help brighten and balance the flavors but it still was a bit too funky for me. The following day when I heated up the rest, I ended up thinning the broth with some water…

I admit, I am a ramen novice and I prefer lighter cleaner broths (like the kind that is served with Oki Doki’s Ramen in Costa Mesa), so perhaps next time I will enjoy one of their tamer Ramens because for sure I’ll be to at least have some of those shrimp shumai! Hmmm… As for our next Sawtelle Soba stop... the waitress suggested yashima. Hopefully we get to Okafuku before then... but if not I'll be sure to report! :)


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