Sunday, January 20, 2008

Daichan @Studio City

I hate clutter. Even a dusty stack of magazines by the bedpost irks me. Yet when I stepped inside this restaurant-slash-emporium of Japanese souvenirs strung from the ceiling and plastered to the wall – I was in total awe. Red paper lanterns (chochin), tea cups, paper mache masks, decorative fans... A pachinko machine undoubtedly built in the '70s rested in the back while a duo of Childrens Day koi fish hung out in the corner. Walk into the restroom and you're in the company of two dozen stuffed animals stacked high above. Hmm, must be the outhouse tower guards. Talk about random. But that's what I love about the place.

Daichan is self-described as Japanese soul food, though I would take that as a loose term for anything edible from the Japanese diaspora. (For those who don't know, a good sized Japanese population has been rooted in the U.S. for over a century, mostly in Hawaii and the west coast.) Their menu is expansive: soba, agedashi tofu, katsu chicken, yudofu (boiled tofu), poki-over-rice... I spotted one of my favorite comfort foods written on the wall: natto (fermented soy beans), though instead of soy sauce they mix it with avocado (?!). Then again, lots of Japanese Americans eat steamed broccoli with a mixture of soy sauce and mayo, which might sound appalling, too.

I spent more time than usual fretting over what to get, partially distracted by the red bamboo ornament hanging in front of me. (It's in the shot above; A fertility symbol?) I eventually settled on the deepfried garlic chicken, a tasty version of mochiko chicken cut in katsu-size pieces. The soy-based sauce was on the salty side but dab it on the rice and you're set. Most dinners come with macaroni salad and a slice of watermelon certainly more characteristic of Hawaii than Tokyo.

I also sampled the deepfried "purple potato" dish, a unanimous favorite, and the fried lotus root stuffed with minced chicken. If you thought all Japanese food was healthy, think again. Any of this "soul food" will stick to your ribs. Not to the degree of red beans and rice, but close enough.

I regret having only consumed one meal in one sitting at Daichan. I would've risked the extra pounds just to sample some of the other dishes. Their house special drink of ginger, peppermint, herbs, lemon and sugar sounded intriguing, too. Prices are amazingly reasonable, averaging $7-$10 per plate. Not bad considering its neighbor is Mr. Nozawa himself, who'll take away more C-notes than you can count.

11288 Ventura Blvd.
Studio City, CA
(818) 980-8450
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Chubbypanda said...

It's called "soul food" because it'll send you straight to heaven. Gastronomically, of course. =b

Inland Empirical said...

I love the top photo on this post.

BoLA said...

Mmm... MS loves Daichan's udon noodles!

Miss you!