Pdho told me that Farmer Fuji was the first to introduce him to Spoon House, a simple little eatery located in Gardena that specializes in Japanese style spaghetti. Coincidentally enough, it is also located across the street from a branch of my favorite milk tea shop, Tea Station. I’ve been on this mentaiko spaghetti kick lately. Not only have I been in search of it at Japanese restaurants across San Francisco, but I even attempted to make it home using the sauce packets sold at the local Nijiya Market and trying from scratch by using fresh cod roe. Both ways were solid, but neither tasted quite like I’ve had it at Curry House or Cafe Hiro. I think the Mentaiko Spaghetti from Cafe Hiro has been the best I’ve had so far. For some reason, Mentaiko spaghetti has been pretty hard to find. It doesn’t seem to be that commonly served in Japanese restaurants, but maybe I just don’t know where to look. Does anyone know??
Anyways, I was obviously looking forward to giving Spoon House a try, so the opportunity presented itself one day when my sister, Overworked, was picking Pdho and myself up for lunch on our way back from Manhattan Beach to the OC. The restaurant is nothing fancy by any means. In addition to a few tables and high bar with stools, the prime seating area looked to be the seats along the open kitchen area where you could watch the chefs (who all happened to NOT be Japanese but rather of the Latino persuasion) feverishly work their way around the cooking area.
I ordered the spaghetti with cod roe and squid and then decided to add some Japanese Shimeji mushrooms on the side. Although the mushrooms were okay, I probably could have done without them as they did little to enhance the dish. The squid was surprisingly tender and complemented to saltiness of the spaghetti.
Pdho went all out and ordered basically the same dish as I did but added sea urchin as well. This dish had a more distinct briny flavor in large part I’m assuming from the sea urchin. It was a little too overpowering for my taste buds.
Overworked ordered the spaghetti with clam sauce and Shimeji mushrooms which came with some large clams. I give the dish points for its very healthy helping of clams, and although it tasted just fine, it wasn’t necessarily all that different from any other take on spaghetti with clams.
Overall, I definitely thought my dish was the best of the three that we each ordered. It was a yummy take on Mentaiko Spaghetti, and at less than $9, a definite bargain. I wouldn’t mind coming back if I was ever in the area, but I wouldn’t suggest going out of your way only because it isn’t the best version I’ve had, and I would hate to raise expectations too high in fear of disappointing people.
1601 W. Redondo Beach Blvd.
Gardena, CA 90247
PAFO Ratings for Spoon House:
Ambiance 2½ stars
Food 3½ stars
Overall rating 3½ stars