Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Asa-tisfying Bowl of Ramen

After my disappointing Indian experience at Addi's Tandoor in Torrance, I was ready to give up on the South Bay. Of course, inomthings put me back on track, explaining that I was just not looking in the right places. She rattled off an exciting list of Japanese places for me to check out. Seeing as how I'm frequently driving down there anyway, it was time for me to check one of them out.


It's not like I didn't know that there was outstanding Japanese food around Torrance. My trips to Musha and Izakaya Bincho (formerly Yakitori Bincho) were incredible, some of the favorite restaurants in LA. In fact, Asa is next to Sanuki no Sato an excellent udon-ya.

Having heard that ramen and takoyaki are the two things that Asa does best, I couldn't say no to either. Nor could I say no to this wonderful juicy chicken karaage. Fried nice and fluffy, it felt wholesome to put in my mouth without that repulsive slick of too much oil.

For the octopus, we chose mochi cheese takoyaki. For those unfamiliar, it is pieces of octopus battered, fried, and topped with sauce and bonito shavings. I'm not knowledgeable enough about takoyaki to make this claim definitively, but this felt like the bacon-wrapped hotdog of the fried octopus ball world. Biting into one of these morsels instantly brought back childhood memories of pulling the gooey strands off an extra cheese pizza. After this, I don't know if I can ever go back to mozzarella sticks.

Coming off my lackluster trip to Daikokuya, it took me a few weeks for my spirit (and my stomach) to crave ramen again. Daikokuya's ramen is NOT THAT GOOD. Yes, all you otaku fanboys can curse me in broken Japanese. But have a bowl at Asa and tell me that its ramen doesn't pwn Daikokuya. The noodles were thin, yet firm. Both the light assari style and heavy kotteri broths had a rich shoyu flavor and a ton of umami. The soup makes you smack your lips twice after the last drop is gone. I liked the bamboo shoots, which offered some texture contrast, but the chasu was irresistible. Maybe they don't use Berkshire kurobuta pork like Daikokuya claims, but I could easily go the rest of my life without having another one of those oinkers in my ramen if I could have Asa chasu instead.

Ultimately, I would go back to Asa because their ramen does what ramen should do. It is a comforting bowl that warms the body and makes me happy. If your ramen doesn't do that, then you know where to go.

Asa Ramen
18202 S Western Ave
Gardena, 90248
(310) 769-1010



ila said...

glad you liked it! next stop: gaja okonomiyaki? (they have takoyaki too) :P

Mike said...

Wow, I was just there this past weekend and sadly had a wholly opposite experience.

My takoyaki mochi cheese starter (my first ever foray into takoyaki) I found boring. The outside crisp and the inside, yes, cheesy, just didn't inspire much love from me. I was also sad that I could taste no octopus.

Now the Koteri ramen. I've heard Asa has "off days," and I think I chose one of them. The noodles I appreciated, and the broth I was enjoying... at first. Then it turned into a salt, salt, and more salt. I couldn't finish the bowl. Not to mention the chasu, not good, the bamboo shoots, I had one.

I really want to go back. If you decide to do so anytime soon please let me know. My girlfriend refuses to go back with me.

I'm determined to give them another go!

Aaron said...

Ila: Next stop is everywhere else you mentioned before. Fiona and I are planning a South Bay Japanese Food Marathon at some point.

Mike: You know I heard the same criticism coming from Abby of Pleasure Palate. If that's the case, Asa certainly is a wild card. There are many rave reviews out there, including mine. I guess you should put up your own review if it's a true reflection of your thoughts.

Of course both you guys, Ila and Mike, would be welcome to a South Bay marathon when we get that going

Mike said...

Consider this an early reservation to your planned crawl!

Honestly it felt like an off night to me. Especially knowing about the glowing reviews beforehand. Hey, it happens to the best of 'em.

By the way I am currently writing a review... there's just such a backlog! I need to play catchup.

Kung Food Panda said...

I like the tako yaki at Asa...but as what Mike mentioned, the ramen at Asa is quite uneven.

I used to go weekly after hitting up the golf range and some nights it was fantastic, while others were just a salty bowl of soup noodles. It's like playing Russian Roulette....gotta get lucky when the right chef is cooking!