Monday, June 18, 2007

Asakuma Rice...a serendipitous evening

848 N. La Cienega Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90069
Sun-Thur 11:30AM-10PM
Fri-Sat 11:30AM-11PM

Don't you just love when serendipity happens? When I was little I was told a story in second grade about serendipity. A child had lost a toy and went looking all over their home for it. In the process of the search he found much more than he was looking for and though he found the toy in the end, he realized that all the things he found in the process were just as fun if not more fun than his lost toy. I went in search of Vito's Pizza and found Asakuma Rice (their website is down at the moment so here's the menu to help as well) a couple of doors right next door. When I got to the parking lot something inside changed my appetite from pizza to Japanese so it was decided by destiny.

Rice (the chain of Chinese food restaurants) used to be in this exact spot now held by Asakuma Rice. From what I'm aware of, it's associated with Rice, but Rice is Chinese and Asakuma Rice is more of a mix of Japanese and Chinese cuisine. Knowing that I try to stay away from chains, this is an okay exception due to the fact that I think this is the only Asakuma Rice, though it may be associated with Rice. The inside even seems more Japanese than it's Chinese counterpart (though you can't see it, to the right of the picture is also their sushi bar).

Celeste and I popped down and were greeted by one of the happiest, friendliest waiters I've ever had the pleasure of having been waited on. Imagine if the town of Stepford branched out from just wives and started making wait staff as well... that's what you'd get. We started out with their steamed won tons (we ordered for them to be spicy and the sauce they blended was a perfect mixture for us). Great texture and very full flavored won tons. The bed of spinach it rested on was complimetary to each won ton bite and perfect for soaking up the sauce. I'd totally order these again.

Being that this was Asakuma and not just plain Rice, I ordered one of the Asakuma specials. I got the Marinated Black Cod with Shrimp and Vegetable Tempura which came with rice and Sunomono. Let me start with the sunomono which was crisp and extremely fresh tasting. Not too extreme on the vinegar base. I'd also like to add that I never had sunomo with noodles in it. Usually it's just the cucumber mostly. The noodles were a nice touch and quite unexpected. It was a good way to round out such a simple side.

The tempura was great. Just on the edge of doughy but not reaching it. I liked how they gave me plenty of it as well. Some places only give like three or four pieces sometimes, so this too was a pleasant surprise.

And the Black Cod, just a lovely piece of fish. It was so incredibly tender, but not "fall apart" tender. It was firm how a good piece of fish should be. The slightly orange flavored sauce was amazing. Please don't discount it cause I called it orange sauce because it was actually so much more than that. It was just a divine main course crowned by this piece of cod.

Celeste had the Kung Pao Shrimp and chose brown rice to accompany it(which was moist, not dry and in need of sauce). The shrimp were cooked just right, they were firm but tender(there are few things worse than dry, chewy, overcooked shrimp). The vegetables were very good as well, but what made this dish snap were the peanuts. I don't know whether they were or not, but they tasted and looked like those big toasty Virginia Peanuts, and oh the difference it made. Such a simple way of making a traditional dish stand out from the competition!(and we know, cause it's one of her favorites)

We finished off with Mochi, mainly because it was noted on the menu that they get theirs from some special vendor in Hawaii. Now I wouldn't say they were any better or worse than other mochi we've had, but the texture was a bit different, which was a nice change of pace. What made this dessert worth a recommendation though was the fresh fruit and fried wonton strips with caramel sauce. Yum!

Going back to serendipity. I am never all that surprised anymore when I find a place worthy of being written about. In LA you rarely have to go too far to find someplace worth eating at. Sometimes I like to think that Los Angeles Magazine looks at my page when I find that recent issues have places I've recently covered in the last month or two in it and they've labeled them as new listings on their restaurant roster. Makes me feel like I'm helping out in a weird way. If I am "helping out" feel free to give me a mention. I'd love the nod from you guys.

Free Drink Refills: Yes
Entree Price Range:$7 to $12

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Blogger LAGirl said...

Great review! I have been coming to this restaurant while in it's original incarnation as Rice for many many years. Now that they have remodeled the interior and added Japanese food, it is only more of a great find. Good food, consistently polite and prompt service and perfect for a casual meal with family and friends. If you are looking for something a bit lighter, my dad swears by the fish delight with garlic sauce on the side.

November 7, 2007 at 6:34 PM  
Blogger Aubrey said...

I shall give that a try when I pop in next time. Thanks for the tip!

November 8, 2007 at 9:54 AM  

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