Monday, March 31, 2008
1725 W Carson St
Torrance, CA 90501
Adequately Fed: $20
Takana Meshi (mixed rice)***
Kabocha (pumpkin dip)*****
Kurogama (black sesame) ice cream with kinako*****
(Out of Five Stars)
Japanese Tapas-- that is how this place seems to be described the most, an appropriate description of the small dish style dining inspired by homestyle Japanese cooking. With this style of dining, bring a large group of friends to try the most things. One person could probably easily finish 2-3 dishes; now multiply that by the number of friends you have and you can get a better idea of the variety of the cuisine.
We arrived at the Torrance location at 8:30 on Friday night and still had to wait 15-20 minutes for a table. We were seated at the large communal bench in the center of the restaurant. At first, I was not too keen on the prospect of sitting with so many strangers, but I realized that it was a great way to see what everyone else was ordering.
We started with a harusame salad, a glass noodle salad served on a tostada. It did not suffer from the often greasy feeling of Korean Jap chae. Considering this was not a sushi restaurant, the yellowtail sashimi was beautifully presented and wonderfully fresh. The fish was well-marbled, resulting in a buttery mouth feel. The pumpkin dip came surrounded by saltine crackers. I would not have ordered this normally, but at the request of my dining partner, I was well rewarded for taking the risk. The pumpkin was sweet and refreshing, a great party food. However, its best attribute is also its downfall seeing as how we were only two people. Eventually, it just got too sweet.
The tofu nuggets, modeled after chicken McNuggets are exactly what they sound like. They look like, and to a certain extent, even taste like chicken nuggets. It came with a sweet-sour dipping sauce and a mayonnaise sauce but after the novelty of nugget shaped tofu wore off, the dish itself did not warrant much more excitement. Takana meshi is a bowl of fried rice with nori and pickled mustard greens. The flavor was a little underwhelming, but as a rice dish, that was fine. This is an intensely Asian dish however, so those Panda Express junkies may not enjoy it as much. Dessert was black sesame ice cream, well-plated with soybean flour, strawberries, caramel, and whipped cream.
Our waiter that night was particularly friendly and helpful. I always appreciate ethnic waiters that can speak both a native language and English fluently. He reminded me of a drug dealer, in the way that he can make you feel relaxed and easily order more food.
There is also another Musha location in Santa Monica.
Recommended: Although the restaurant itself is not particularly large, this is a great place to bring large groups.