Sanuki no Sato -- さぬきの里 -- Sensual Soba for Lovers
I was in the mood for soba noodles. A bowl of cold soba noodles and a glass of iced "mugi-cha" tea; a traditional summertime lunch for Japanese foodies. The name Sanuki no Sato means "Village in Sanuki" and refers to the city Sanuki in the Kagawa prefecture in Japan known for udon noodles. Well, I am a soba lover willing to try soba in an udon restaurant.
We raced down the freeway to the Gardena neighborhood of Los Angeles to try Sanuki no Sato restaurant. Reserving a tatami room for two by phone, we had hoped to make it on time for our 2 o'clock reservation. Surprisingly, the 405 freeway was smooth sailing, and we were a little early. Good thing. They close at 2:30pm and re-open for dinner at 5:30pm until 10pm.
Sanuki no Sato is tucked away in the corner of a mini mall. Its unassuming interior is friendly and casual. A wall of photographs of celebrities and friends decorates the entrance, with autographed photos and smiling faces of diners that enjoyed the Japanese culinary delights of the restaurant. I liked that it was so inviting, like a family diner, which appeals to me more these days, as a mother of three. I already had it in mind to bring the kids next time. But it was a lunch date and I was excited to have a private lunch in our tatami room.
We were escorted to our little hideaway table, taking our shoes off and placing them near the doorway of our tatami room. The menu was simple, with English on one side, and Japanese on the other. Thankfully, as I can read hiragana, but that doesn't mean I understand everything.
This little restaurant was welcoming. As they express on their website, Sanuki no Sato, they serve "Japanese style" food with "sincerity and simplicity."
Hiyayakko Tofu, cold tofu with Japanese garnish, is always delicious. I ordered the Hiyayakko Tofu for an appetizer. Of course.
I was also immediately drawn to the Iso Oroshi Cold Soba Set: sansai vegetable, grated daikon radish, and tempura flakes. This sounded nourishing and it was exactly what I had in mind. Cold soba noodles are popular in summer in Japan, as well as somen noodles. "Iso Oroshi" alludes to the visual of seaweed on a rocky beach.
My lunch arrived on a tray, garnished with naganegi (scallions) kizami nori, ginger, wasabi, and bonito flakes in its splendor.
I attempted to eat my soba noodles with ladylike grace and elegant skill, but slurping up soba noodles is an art the Japanese have mastered. My husband likes to tease me for such things. It is difficult not to get the tsuyu sauce all over your face when you slurp, and the tempura flakes, in my case, all over the place.
My husband ordered his Unaju Set, a Sanuki lunch special: charbroiled eel on top of rice, served with salad and udon.
Although I did not capture the refreshing quality of the mugi-cha tea with a photo, we had several refills of the icy summer cooler. Mugi-cha is barley tea, light, healthy, and cooling, without any caffeine or sugars--- just perfect.
I did practice the art of slurping noodles. The Japanese grow up slurping noodles with lots of noise, excelling in their noodle eating talents. Well, I cannot slurp noodles loudly at all. I grew up making no sound whatsoever when eating noodles. Besides, spaghetti would be messy if one attempted to slurp them up as the Japanese do soba, ramen, and udon noodles.
Watch me try to slurp my noodles!
18206 S. Western Ave., Gardena, CA 90248