Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Hot and Soupy #1: Handmade Soba and Udon at Ichimiann (You Never Knew It Could Taste This Good)

I've eaten at Ichimiann so much it's a wonder that I hadn't written about it sooner, but this cold winter weather is the perfect time to start it off as the inaugural post of my "Hot and Soupy" series of posts!

Ichimiann is a place I found through Exile Kiss' blogpost, lauding it as the one amazing teuchi(handmade) soba place in town. I was on a crazy soba kick and wanted to venture further than Yabu.

Ichimiann, aka Bamboo Garden, is a tiny shop on a dilapidated side street right next to Foster's Freeze and looks just like a typical noodle shop.
Cash only, you can place your order and then take a seat at the bar by the wall.

The rite of passage for all soba noobs is the Zaru Soba, so even though it doesn't meet the hot and soupy winter theme, it simply cannot be left unmentioned. Zaru soba gets its name from the bamboo sieve that it is served on and is typically served with tsuyu (a mixture of dashi, sweetened soy sauce, and mirin), scallions, and wasabi.
Mix the scallions and wasabi in the tsuyu, then pick up the buckwheat noodles and dip it in the tsuyu.
This is the dish that best highlights Ichimiann's excellent handmade soba, the wonderful texture and the flavor of the buckwheat noodle itself. The soba here is devoid of that doughy and powdery taste and texture that I always hated in mass produced noodles.

If you want hot soba, however, Ichimiann has plenty of options for you, from a simple bowl with poached egg to many more. The flavors of the broth are subtler here, unlike many places which tend to be salty, but it is ultimately more satisfying and worth savoring.

When you want your protein you could opt for the unagi soba topped with grated yam.
Even though this dish made me realize I'm not big on japanese yam, the rest of the dish was excellent. The unagi is nicely grilled and lends a nice flavor although I did miss the crisp texture of the unagi before it's soaked in broth and yam.

When Exile Kiss did a second post, this time on the udon noodles at Ichimiann, I had to go back and try that too (even if I'm still a soba girl).

A bowl of beef sukiyaki udon seems like the perfect meal for a chilly Saturday morning (ok, afternoon).

Ichimiann's udon is thin, unlike the type you normally see in stores and restaurants.
The sukiyaki udon bowl is bolder in flavor than the other soba dishes that I've had and it really hits the spot. The udon, while thinner than usual, is wonderfully chewy without that doughy consistency.
Ichimiann's subtle but deeply satisfying flavor doesn't leave you overwhelmed and dehydrated like some salty dishes might, but instead it just keeps you satiated all day long.

Ichimian Bamboo Garden
1618 Cravens Ave
Torrance, CA 90501
(310) 328-1323
Ichimian Bamboo Garden on Urbanspoon
Ichimian Bamboo Garden in Los Angeles


Bianca @southbay rants n raves

When I first saw that they were handmade noodles, I knew I had to keep reading.... your review & pictures were great but I jumped when I saw that this place is in Torrance! Cool! Since most reviews I've seen from the LA bloggers have been...well, in the greater LA area, it's nice to know this place is close by!

Ravenous Couple

love the bamboo spoon/ladle!


Too bad I'm never in this area. :P

Exile Kiss

Hi burumun,

Great review! :) I'm glad you like Ichimian's Soba and Udon (and like you, I'd rather have Soba over Udon in general :).


I didn't realize Ichimiann has udon too. So is it worth a trip to try the udon besides the ramen? Also, I could never figure out the full name of the restaurant. Is it "bamboo" something?


I think it's "Bamboo Garden". Both the soba and the udon are worth the trips down. I'm still a soba girl but either way it's hard to find a better bowl in LA.

Michael's Blog

I eat here atleast three times a week. There soba seems more modern and chewy which is just the way I like versus the traditional Ni Hachi Soba which has grittier texture. Although around the corner there's another soba-ya called Otafuku (Western Blvd, Gardena Ca) which I believe has the best hot broth in town. They make their own teuchi noodles but its just okay and pricey compare to Ichimiann. I recommend trying Sudachi Udon which is not listed on the menu!

Gourmet Pigs   © 2008. Template Recipes by Emporium Digital