A spicy lunch coupled with a long day’s work had me tired and looking for a light and soothing dinner. I decided to stop by Sawtelle Boulevard on my way home and grab some noodles. I scoped out the menu outside of Tsutija and felt like giving it a try. The name “Artisan Noodle” was enticing, and yet a reminder of all the times some pretentious trendy joint calls its disappointing effort ‘artisan’. I brushed off any cynicism and walked in.
The venue is small and adorned with warm and tasteful wood trim. The entire place is Japanese-run. There’s a counter a against the kitchen at the back of the place, from where you can watch a handful of chefs prepare your food with Zen-like focus.
I leafed through the menu. I had my mind set on some Zaru Soba, but they only serve those at lunch. Drag. The waitress was sweet and recommended some Udon instead. There’s a variety of dishes available, from cold to hot fare. I spotted some decent looking raw fish cuts, but obviously I wanted to try the “artisan noodles”. I ended up picking the Inaniwa Udon and a side of Monkfish liver.
The Udon was thin, thinner than a linguine. It was silky and tender with a consistency more akin to egg noodles than rice noodles. It didn’t stick at all. I ordered the Udon served in a plain broth with a few grated roots and scallions, so I could gauge them in their purest form. While I was not in the mood to be blown away, they were definitely some unique noodles and the light broth worked magic on my sore belly. The Ankimo, however, was one of the best I had. The seasoning was well balanced. The liver melted in the mouth and had no metallic after taste at all, which can happen. It was sweet and evenly textured. Really memorable!
There were other tantalizing items on the menu. I recommend the ox tongue plate and the chicken kamameshi. The one odd thing about the menu is that noodles aren’t prominently featured as you would expect from the restaurant’s name. That said, the noodle selection is bigger at lunch. I guess I’ll have to come for those again. Also, if you are very hungry, expect to put some fair money down. The servings are typically Japanese, that is to say smaller than what Americans expect. The staff is super courteous and on the spot. Since, I hate shitty service, this all means I’m inclined to go there again and try something else.
JANUARY LUNCH UPDATE: I stopped by during lunch time to sample Tsujita’s lunch noodle offerings. I went for the Tsukemen served with dipping pork broth. After squeezing some lime on the cold noodles, you get to dip them in this voluptuous and fatty broth. Refreshing and savory at the same time, a sensation you don’t often get with western fares. You can get extra noodles for a few bucks, allowing for a very copious meal if desired. Prices are reasonable for the quality being served.
2057 Sawtelle Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90025
Tel. 310-231-7373 Fax. 310-231-7375
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