Object of Desire: UFO gyoza
A couple of years ago, tsukemen, Tokyo-style dip ramen, was as difficult to find in Los Angeles as green cheese imported directly from the moon. Now, of course, it is scarcely possible to walk down certain streets in West Los Angeles or Torrance without tripping over stretchy skeins of the stuff, and the progress Japanese kitchens are making in the reduction of pork broth may be up there with the sequencing of the genome. Ramen-making has become serious science. But while the ramen at Jidaiya, owned by the people behind Torihei, a nearby izakaya famous both for its oden and for yakitori skewers the size of baseball bats, is perhaps just below the very top rank, the unique "UFO gyoza'' have become something of an obsession. Imagine half a dozen pan-fried dumplings finished in a small skillet, then turned out upside down onto a plate, gyoza bottoms fusing in a Frisbee of pure, golden crunch. Add a bowl of Jidaiya's excellent tsukemen, and you've got a perfect South Bay lunch.
Jidaiya, 18537 S. Western Ave., Gardena, (310) 532-0999.
— Jonathan Gold
Photo credit: Jonathan Gold