Slurp Soba for Less Than $10
Torrance is a quiet bedroom community 20 miles south of Los Angeles proper, home to the North American headquarters for Toyota and Honda. It's no surprise then, that the epicenter of Japanese cuisine has moved away from Japantown (which is slowly being encroached upon by a growing Koreatown) and towards this suburb and its surrounding communities of Gardena, Redondo Beach, and Lomita. Ichimi-an is located in the middle of all the sprawl, and it's clear that this place does it right: at lunch, Japanese salarymen crowd the sushi bar and tiny dining space.
The main attraction here is the handmade soba noodles — chewy, cool Japanese buckwheat noodles. One could even say al dente, to borrow a term normally reserved for pasta. Nothing beats slurping cold soba noodles on a hot summer day in L.A., and with most combinations running less than $10, it's easy on the wallet as well. Get the sea eel and whitefish tempura bowl together with the zaru soba to experience the best of both worlds. The sushi-grade fish is dipped in a light batter, fried to perfection, and served with a slightly sweet tempura sauce on a bed of rice. Udon is made in-house as well, and if you're in the mood for sushi, the chirashi bowl is fresh and satisfying.
The space is simple, and the ambiance is relaxing. If you come during dinner, it hardly ever feels crowded, and the service is impeccable. If you've had a stressful day slogging through traffic on the way home from work, and you fancy a place to unwind at dinner, this is the place to go.