This year, I'm not nearly as ambitious. It's easier to just have grandma treat me to lunch on her Social Security check, which she did last weekend. We sat down for a mid-afternoon meal at Chabuya along Sawtelle Blvd. She had the chicken donburi (rice bowl) and I the tsukemen, a version of ramen where the noodles and broth are separated.
Since opening a couple years back, the Japanese noodle chain has noticeably beefed up their menu. They initially christened their dining tables with only their signature ramen, but when that didn't seem to win customers' hearts they branched out to things like donburi and Vietnamese sandwiches. It was a smart move considering Americans enjoy a menu with variety.
In celebration of summer, Chabuya is currently serving an assortment of cold dishes topped with generous portions of vegetables and meat. The sugary shoyu sauce comes in a separate cup and you pour it over the noodles to your liking.
***WARNING ***JAPANESE CULTURAL TIP BELOW *** **WARNING **
Tsukemen, on the other hand (see photo above), is a completely different dish. It's eaten by dipping a few strands of noodles at a time into the warm broth, a dense version of that of ramen. I watched in horror the girl next to me pouring broth into her plate. Although the results weren't cataclysmic, I still wouldn't do it. The broth is at perfect concentration while in the cup. Pouring it onto the noodles would dilute the taste.
Cold noodle portions are generous at Chabuya. The broth is richly tasty and the bigger-than-bite-size toppings will keep you full 'til dinner. It may not be the best meal you'll ever have, but for $8 I'd say it's nicely satisfying. Thanks again, Grandma!