Izakaya 居酒屋 is a type of Japanese dining where drinking and little dishes are served. I guess you could associate drinking with any type of Japanese (or non Japanese) dining, too. Hence, Izakaya’s roots are with Sake houses, where they started to have customers drinking, and soon eating, at their establishments. I guess you could say Izakaya’s are the Japanese Gastropubs or Wine Bars.
I had posted about Musha a couple of years ago, but I thought I would revisit and repost. Musha is recognized by several of my friends as one of the favorite Japanese Izakaya’s, let alone restaurants. Just the other day, a friend was looking forward to Musha’s risotto, a week before her visit. A freakin’ week! But unfortunately, I would not be having risotto. We had 5 other pretty good offerings.
Miss F and I had the Takotama, MFC (Musha Fried Chicken), Roasted Duck Breast, Buta Kakuni, and Tuna Poke.
We started with the Roasted Duck Breast, marinated in Ponzu Soy Sauce with grated Daikon Radish. This was a moist dish, which was slightly savory, with a sour element from the ponzu sauce. Served cold, the little medallions are spiced with pepper from a dry rub to give a nice contrasting taste. I realized that enjoyed this dish, after thinking more about it.
Next we had the MFC – the Musha Fried Chicken. I believe this is their version of Karaage. The only difference is that Karaage are smaller rounder pieces, while, MFC are like chicken strips. I liked how each piece wasn’t too oily from the deep fried batter. The golden brown batter didn’t overpower the chicken and the ponzu dipping sauce – which is a good thing.
The Takotama was a unique dish. I know Miss F and I weren’t big fans of it. But it looked really interesting and was upsold by our waiter. Since we were sitting at the bar, we could see a large dishing looking like a large round omelet covering noodles. Our order came with a slice of it, with Japanese Mayo and sauce drenched all over. The omelet contained octopus and leeks. It was heavy and filling. I liked the presentation more than the food.
The Tuna Poke, meaty slices of tuna in a Hawaiian marinade was something I was looking forward to. I am a big fan of Poke. When this arrived, it looked like a sashimi plate. Though it was good, I think I was a little disappointed. I think, and know, that I expected too much. The salty, sour, and seasoned tuna is a nice taste for people looking for sushi at an izakaya restaurant.
Perhaps I was a bit harsh with the Tuna Poke and the Takotama, but I knew I had high hopes with Buta Kakuni. I had always remembered that Japanese Izakaya pork belly was always well done. With high expectations, the Buta Kakuni unfortunately could not live up to it. It was good. The fat content, from the skin and fat provided taste, but didn’t provide enough. I think the quality of meat was lacking enough luscious fat. The meat part itself, when I bit into it was dry, since the fat wasn’t there. The skin, as good as it was, wasn’t enough.
Perhaps couple of high expectations and Musha’s complacency, had me only liking 2 out of 5 dishes. Perhaps after all these years, Musha doesn’t really have to try any more. Maybe they focus on a couple of their more famous dishes – like the Risotto. Maybe it just an off day for the pork belly. I don’t know.
What to Order: MFC (Musha Fried Chicken), Roasted Duck Breast
What not to Order: Tuna Poke, Buta Kakuni (might have been a bad day), Takotama
Price Range 2 $/¥/NT
1725 West Carson Street
Torrance, California 90501