Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Soba Pop! (Does not go my stomach)

“So you must eat out all the time, huh?” They ask me.

I shake my head, “Actually, I don’t really…maybe only three times a week?”

“Not including lunch though right?” They’ll press, their eyes incredulous.

Again, I shake my head. “No, that includes lunch.”

“But you’re a food blogger!” They’ll exclaim at this last little kicker.

I nod. “Yep, a food blogger on a budget.”

What I don’t mention is that there’s more to my dining out hesitancy than fiscal responsibility. While I probably would go bankrupt if I stopped packing my lunches and traded in my quinoa dinners for more frequent Mozza suppers, the dirty little truth is that I wouldn’t actually want to give up my homemade meals.

Even for Nancy.

Dining out is never a particularly healthy experience for me. I don’t order grilled fish with steamed vegetables on the side and then pack half the plate to-go before I even take a bite. I don’t shun the bread basket nor the butter nestled beside it. And I don’t opt for one glass of heart-healthy red wine instead of dessert.

When I go out, I order the wine and dessert.

And then get another glass of wine when that one’s empty.

My indulgent restaurant behavior definitely catches up with me. Immediately after, my stomach will pooch out like I’ve stuffed a bowling ball under my shirt. I’ll have a hard time sleeping that night as my body attempts to digest everything I’ve crammed inside of it. And the next morning I’ll wake up feeling bloated and sluggish.

I’ll then spend the next two days recovering from my “food hangover” with homeopathic remedies of green tea, vegetables and my constant companion, quinoa.

It does the trick.

Until I go pollute my body with pasta and pizza and butter and gelato all over again.

A couple weeks ago, I was having a particularly indulgent few days. There was dinner and way way too much wine at Izaka-ya by Katsuya, an oil-laden small plate feast at AOC a couple days later, and then an intensive media dinner at Zengo at Santa Monica Place on the Wednesday that followed. By that Thursday evening, all I wanted to do was go home, snuggle up on my couch in my stretchy “I feel fat” sweatpants, and bandage my wounded arteries with tofu and kale.

Instead, I found myself going out… again.

But this time it was different.

A friend and I impetuously decided to check out "Soba Pop," an artisanal noodle pop-up bar that was taking over the West Third Street BREADBAR space for the week of August 23rd through August 28th.

Yes, there was wine – a vivid Jordan Chardonnay – but the meal prepared by local soba maker Sonoko Sakai and Akila Inouye, the founder of Japan’s Tsukiji Soba Academy, tasted decidedly like one of the recovery meals I would have made myself at home.

The chilled housemade tofu with scallions and ginger ($8) startled my tongue with its purity. The sultry texture mimicked that of pudding – albeit the healthiest pudding one could possibly consume.
That purity was also apparent in the two hand-cut soba dishes we ordered – the Vegetable Bukkake Soba with a medley of vegetables, shiso, mitsuba, scallions, sprouts, toasted saikyo miso, and fried soba gome ($22); and the Cold Duck Bukkake Soba with caramelized ginger shigure-style duck, eggplant, scallions, shiso, and soba granules ($22). For the first time in ages, I plowed through my dinner of lightly dressed noodles and vegetables without feeling as though I’d plowed through a barrel of lard.

While I can imagine some diners might find the simplicity of the dish boring, in my mind, it allowed the texture of the al dente, irregular strands of noodles and crunchy vegetables to take center stage. I could taste the craftsmanship rather than an overpowering amount of oil or sauce – this was a good thing.

When I said good bye to my friend that night, my stomach wasn’t distended far beyond its maximum limits. When I got home to my apartment, I didn’t need to chug a gallon of mint tea to help aid my digestion of an entire cow or pig carcass. And when I woke up the next morning. I felt refreshed instead of in pain.

The feeling lasted approximately two and a half days.

On day number three, Michael Voltaggio staged an intervention with McNuggets.

8718 W. 3rd St.
Los Angeles, CA 90048


Sarah said...

Diana, this looks amazing! I'm so sad I missed it. I took Sonoko and Akila's soba class, but there's no way I could make anything that delicious looking at home. Yum yum!

SinoSoul said...

Excuse me, does that say "Bukkake"?

I made that cold tofu dish last night for $1.25. Granted it was commercially produced Korean tofu (on sale, natch)...

Esi said...

That sounds really good and sometimes it's nice to not leave dinner feeling like a cow :) Oh, I forgot to tell you, I met M. Voltaggio the other day.

stuffycheaks said...

I hear ya! Food Blogging = unehalthy, over indulgent meals. Sigh. Sounds like a great recovery meal, affordable, AND you get to post an entry. Win Win and Win!

bagnatic said...

haha, sounds like the good life.... love the silken tofu.

Anna A. said...

I want your Soba Pop! (at Tony's house).

kristen said...

Sounds amazing, but $22 for soba? Yikes.

Diana said...

Sarah - I doubt I could either! I can do some mean things to quinoa, but I'm sure I'd be hopeless trying to make my own soba!

Tony - Of course you did.

Esi - I actually had a second spotting of MVP on Thurs at ToBH! We're like totally pals now (not really at all).

Stephanie - Haha yes, definitely multiple wins with this dinner! I think the get to post an entry is the best part. ;)

Amy - The silken tofu was soooo good. I could eat a vat of it!

Anna - Haha, should we crash his house party?

Kristen - It's for the labor - hand-made soba noodles = lots of work!