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Eats: Restaurant Reviews and News | In the Mood

Tempura

October 29, 1998

Tempura is the most delicate of fried foods. Fragile, at their peak of flavor and crunch for just a few brief minutes after cooked, these dainty fritters are usually dipped in a mild soy-based sauce.

* Mishima: At this popular noodle house, "tempura-ed" shrimp and vegetables (onions, peppers, green beans, often a slice of meaty kabocha squash) and crunchy chips of tempura batter appear throughout the menu, both a la carte and as an accompaniment to noodles (hot or cold) or rice. We like the combination dinner called Ten Don--tempura on rice with either hot or cold noodles. Also, a plump tempura shrimp crowns nabeyaki (udon noodles "with the works"). (Tempura dishes, $6 to $8.50.) Mishima, 8474 W. 3rd St., Los Angeles, (323) 782-0181; 21605 S. Western Ave., Torrance, (310) 320-2089.

* Matsuhisa: Nobu Matsuhisa, the innovative restaurateur, explores the possibilities of tempura from the usual shrimp and vegetables to ingredients such as avocados, king crab claws, sea eel, okra, oysters, shiitake mushrooms and sea urchin shiso rolls. (Tempura, $2 to $16.) Matsuhisa, 129 N. La Cienega Blvd., Beverly Hills, (310) 659-9639.

* Taiko: The tempura specialties at this pretty Brentwood Japanese cafe include a shrimp tempura sushi roll, a tempura soft-shell crab roll and chikura tempura, a fried fish cake served with the house dipping sauce. With friends, you may want to split an appetizer of pumpkin tempura. There's also kakiage tempura (mixed vegetables and shrimp), served a la carte or as donburi, a deep bowl of hot rice (white or brown) that comes with a choice of salad or miso soup. (Tempura dishes, $4 to $8.95.) Taiko, Brentwood Gardens, 11677 San Vicente Blvd., Brentwood, (310) 207-7782.

* Oomasa: For a quick, inexpensive bite in Little Tokyo, try this cafe, where tempura shows up in combination dinners with teriyaki or sashimi, and also can be ordered as an entree. Choose vegetable, white fish or shrimp tempura, or any combination. For crunch in your sushi, try a tempura roll with shrimp tempura and asparagus, or the "spider roll," with soft-shell crab. (Tempura dishes, $5 to $16.) Oomasa, 100 Japanese Village Plaza mall, Los Angeles, (213) 623-9048.

* Joy of Tempura: This sushi bar-restaurant has been spreading the joy of basic, traditional tempura for 27 years. It cooks sweet, plump shrimp and assorted vegetables quickly in a light, delicate batter. Dinner comes with miso soup, suonomo salad, rice and vegetable. (Tempura dinner, $11.60.) Joy of Tempura, 21841 Ventura Blvd., Woodland Hills, (818) 999-5060.

E-mail: inthemood@pacbell.net

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