Yabu’s Soba is Better Than Sojibo (and Their Tempura Gives Hannosuke a Run for Their Money)


As great a lunch street as Sawtelle has become over the past few years not everybody is doing gangbusters. A parking spot might be hard to come by, but so is a steady stream of customers for some of the restaurants on this bustling strip- both new and old. Valley success story Ramen Jinya, who arguably started the L.A. ramen craze back in 2010, is being replaced by Downtown favorite Daikokuya after just a year.  Miyata Menji didn’t even last that long, making way for the new Tsujita Annex a couple of months ago.  Sawtelle Kitchen’s inoffensive white table cloth Japanese has gone the way of the dinosaurs, and I can’t help but think that Soba Sojibo isn’t far behind.  Itself a replacement for Spaghetti House by Orris, Sojibo isn’t bad but it isn’t great either.  And when faced with noodle competition like Tsujita, or even Tatsu and Nong La, it doesn’t really stand a chance.  Thankfully if you love soba there’s another option just down Pico from Sawtelle.



If you’ve spent any time eating in West L.A. you’ve likely been to, or at least driven by, Yabu which has been serving up its homemade soba on Pico for almost 25 years. And don’t be fooled by the modern, fancy looking photos on their website. Those seem far more suited to their La Cienega location, which is fancier and more expensive.  The Pico location is better, and more importantly everything a Midtown Luncher would want in a Japanese lunch spot.


You can just get soba and keep your meal under $10, but their lunch specials are worth the splurge. The katsu is the cheapest at $11 and comes with your choice of hot or cold soba, or hot udon.  The best part is, if you get the cold soba they’ll let you get the tanuki soba, topped with crunchy tempura bits.  So good.


Most people go for the chirashi lunch special, which is a steal at $15 considering you also get soba (or udon) in addition to the small bowl of sashimi over rice.  The chirashi may not be as big or as great as what you get at, say, Sushi Gen downtown but the selection of fish is far more unique than what you’ll find at most lunchtime sushi places.


But the real surprise of the lunch menu is their ten don.  The lunch special version ($12) comes with 2 pieces of shrimp, as well as an assortment of vegetables- which includes a sheet of nori, and a shishito pepper.  The tempura was perfectly crunchy, and came lightly glazed with a sweet sauce that put it over the top.  There’s no giant eel to be had, so clearly Hannosuke (in the Mitsuwa Marketplace) is still the best tempura option on the west side. But once you add the soba to the mix, the decision of where to go for your lunchtime ten-don fix gets a little bit tougher.  One thing is for sure, though, I’ll probably never go to Sojibu again.

Yabu, 11820 W Pico Blvd. 310-473-9757


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