Recently, after completing our shopping at Marukai Market for osechi ryori ingredients, we’d typically have lunch at Rutt’s, a restaurant inside the market near the southern entrance. This was the branch of Rutt’s doing business in Culver City. For some reason, it shut down operation since I was here last December and has been replaced by Ten Ten, a Japanese restaurant.
It took us a little while to adjust to the look of the new place. The dearth of food pictures, which were plentiful when the spot was Rutt’s, didn’t help us decide if we wanted to stay. What few pictures were displayed seemed to suggest that their specialty was donburi, bowls of rice with various savory toppings. As it turned out, it was probably more for marketing purposes because the menu leans more toward sandwiches (with Japanese fillings) and curry rice.
So after overcoming our initial hesitation, we figured we’d give this place a shot.
Chashudon was recently added to their offerings, a rice bowl topped with smoked pork belly in a teriyaki sauce. I was initially impressed but that was before I ate more. The sauce’s cloying sweetness and pronounced smokiness of the meat were bothersome. I couldn’t finish it. Teriyaki sauce should have equal parts of sugar and soy sauce, but Ten Ten‘s was way too sweet. And where did all that smoky flavor come from? I’m hoping it wasn’t liquid smoke. I would have serious doubts about ordering any other teriyaki dishes.
Of the two kinds of pan-fried gyoza, the beef was more flavorful than the shrimp, the fillnig more generous. The gyoza skins were nicely browned.
The batter on the fried fish, sold as a combination plate with rice and potato salad, was nicely crusted with panko, filled with fresh, mild-tasting white fish. While quite fine by itself, a sauce might have given the fish a little extra something.
I asked the cashier what their most popular dish was. It’s the curry, she said. I was so impressed by a little sample that I bought a large cup to spoon on the steamed rice that someone else in our party ordered. This was a seriously good Japanese curry, dark, thick, slightly sweet and complex. We made sure to bring the leftover sauce home.
When we return, probably next December, we could try other popular dishes, like their chicken katsu or tonkatsu, either as sandwiches or curry rice, or tempura udon. But, teriyaki? Probably not.
1420 S. Azusa Ave. (inside Marukai)
West Covina, CA 91791