Japanese Eats at Mitsuwa Market
As mentioned in the previous post I'm having a major fling with Japanese cuisine right now. Over the last couple months I've ate some form of Japanese food at least twice a week and I don't envision getting sick of it anytime soon. Part of it's happening is the fact I find myself in the NW Suburbs once a week these days and this is where you'll find Chicagoland's largest population of both Japanese people and also grocers and restaurants. There's no better place for the best of both worlds than at Mitsuwa Marketplace in Arlington Heights. The American based Japanese Supermarket chain has locations in California, New Jersey, and Arlington Heights as mentioned. Not only is Mitsuwa a great place to pick up all things Japanese for your kitchen it's also home to a fantastic food court. Over the last four months the court has seen three new food tenets move in and today I cover them.
Mitsuwa Marketplace Foodcourt________________________________________________________________________________
First spot is a stall specializing in Tendon aka Tempura. This famous Tokyo chain was started by a man who used to scream “TEN-DON (Tempura Bowl) to passerby's of his shop. Hannosuke Kaneko who served as a chairman of Japanese Chef Association lives on thru his grandson and their tempura. Hannosuke's Tempura might not be as crunchy as others and that's due to the special sauce that gets layered on after frying. I had no problem giving up a bit of crunch for extra flavor and thought the tempura from here was fantastic. In agreement is Jonathon Gold. The LA Times food critic and star of the documentary 'City of Gold' named the Hannosuke in LA as one of the city's 101 best spots.
Shrimp Tempura Bowl from Hannosuke________________________________________________________________________________
Here we have another Tokyo import. From what I read this is the first US location of this popular Donburi outlet. Donburi means rice bowl which is one of the most popular things to eat over in Japan. Sutadonya translates to "Stamina Bowl" and I think these are supposed to give people energy to finish their work day. You have your choice of a bunch of different options that can all be visualized in the faux food display case each of these spots has. I chose to roll with #1 on the menu which was described as "Number One in Japan" and got a big bowl of rice with some slivers of silky pork cooked in a wok served alongside some sauteed onion, Tsukemono (Japanese Pickles), and a soft boiled egg. Its nothing life changing and something that can easily be made at home if you shop for the ingredients in the grocery section, but it was quick and comforting on a cold and rainy day.
This Udon shop from Japan with an outlet in California is the most recent place to open. I caught them on their 3rd day of business and you could tell they were already getting popular. They got a system here where you walk up and choose your udon. The chef then boils the noodles quickly while prepping the broth. After he hands you your bowl you walk down to the cash register and pass a tempura buffet while doing so. You grab whatever piece (s) of tempura you want and put them on the plate alongside your udon and pay. Find a seat and start slurping. I'm not well versed in Udon as this is the first focused shop of its kind in Chicago so don't take me as an expert when I say this place is awesome. I loved this bowl of soup which was texturallly enhanced with the big bowl of tempura crumbs you're encouraged to use near the register. Will work my way through their options.
Udon at Sanukiseimen Mugimaru________________________________________________________________________________
No report on the food court at this Mitsuwa outlet is complete without the spotlight shining on Santouka. The Japanese ramen giant is still going strong as one of the original tenants. I wrote about them back in 2011 and the only thing thats changed is the ramen scene in Chicagoland. At one time this was the best joint around due to the fact it's fantastic but also because there weren't many other options. Since then there's been handfuls of ramen shops to open and many of them are good. In my opinion Santouka is still Top 3 and still makes the best pork preparation with their silky smooth cheek meat on offer. I'd happily welcome a city location with open arms. Someone make that happen.
Tonkotsu Ramen at Santouka________________________________________________________________________________
100 East Algonquin Road
Arlington Heights, IL 60005