I know, I know, Maggie Mason doesn't care. But the rest of you can keep reading if you want to hear what I had for lunch.
I have had some really great meals since I arrived in Southern California on Friday.
Friday night was spent with friends at Musha, an izakaya restaurant in Torrance that is raucous and smoke-filled. Mom figured out how to turn on the loud, clanky fan above our heads and took it upon herself to get up and turn it on whenever we were in danger of getting completely smoked out. But the food was abundant and everything that came out of Musha's tiny kitchen was fully flavored and addictively good. This is the restaurant that I have only been to twice, but have craved almost every day in between. I can't wait to return.
Saturday night, as I mentioned, we went to Lucques. It's a lovely space with wonderful food. I had a spicy chickpea and kale soup, and told my dinnermates that I couldn't share because I was concerned that they'd catch my cold. Mostly true, but I also wanted to savor every bit of the soup that I could. Entree was a suckling pig dish which was confited and placed on top of cornbread and greens. Julie also went to Lucques recently and does a much better job than I at describing the suckling pig and her other dishes. As Shuna alluded to in the comments section here yesterday, the desserts at Lucques are special. My pannacotta was surrounded by citrus and flavored with ras al-hanout, giving it an unusual, delicious flavor that was delicate and wonderful.
Sunday was spent at The Hungry Cat -- a sister restaurant to Lucques. It wasn't really planned, but we were at the Hollywood Farmers' Market, and as the time approached noon, the heat became unbearable enough that we were ready for greyhounds and beignets. The Hungry Cat is the closest restaurant to the farmers' market and was a perfect place to relax for a little while and enjoy the heat.
But given all these wonderful dining experiences, the top experience in my mind was today for lunch, at a food court in the Mitsuwa shopping center. Mitsuwa is the largest Japanese supermarket that I have ever been to, and the variety available is staggering. And if that wasn't enough, the market has a food court attached that features some excellent food, including Santouka Ramen -- a food stand that I would venture to say has the best ramen I have ever eaten. I first learned about this food stand from chowhound , and have only had a chance to go twice.
Both times, I have had a delicious shio ramen with a salt-based pork broth with charshu pork in it. The ramen was appropriately firm, and I found myself wishing I had a container to smuggle out the broth by the gallon. The sign at Santouka firmly states "No Takeout" and my dining mate and I conspired ways that next time we can get around that rule. It's my understanding is that Santouka is a Japan-based restaurant chain with a couple of outlets in the U.S. If you ever have a chance to try it, and fancy some ramen, it's well worth seeking out.