Quality tempura strikes the perfect balance between flavor, texture, and batter (it should be light). The best versions are made with the freshest ingredients and served straight out of the fryer. Here are three shops that do it right according to LA 'hounds.
• I-naba in Torrance is lauded for the goods produced behind its sleek tempura bar, each item freshly fried and covered in a light, crispy skin. Regular options include eggplant, shrimp, and squid, but there’s also a seasonal tempura menu to consider (written in Japanese). Guests love the green tea powder, sea salt, and curry powder that accompany the tempura for dipping alongside the standard tentsuyu dipping sauce. 20920 Hawthorne Boulevard, Torrance; 310-371-6675.
• At the always-bustling food court in the Mitsuwa Market on LA’s west side, tempura-seekers should head to Hannosuke. The tempura is served tendon-style (over a bowl of rice), and the battered anago (saltwater eel) and soft-boiled egg are highlights. Snag an open table and eat straight away— lugging your tempura back to the office or home is sure to leave it soggy. 3760 S. Centinela Avenue, Los Angeles; 310-397-4676.
• Little Tokyo newcomer Marugame Monzo is getting lots of attention for its creamy sea urchin udon, but ipsedixit also gives the shop’s perfectly cooked tempura high marks. The dining room is small and the wait can be lengthy during peak hours so plan accordingly. 329 E. First Street, Los Angeles; 213-346-9762.
Photo of tendon-style tempura from Hannosuke / Twitter