Saturday, January 22, 2011

Ramen on a Small Island in Northridge

Small Island
9545 Reseda Blvd Ste 16
Northridge, CA 91324
(818) 341-1884

I spent my entire Saturday afternoon sitting in the hot sun watching my husband lose a rivetingly close tennis match at CSUN.  There's a reason I don't go to every tournament he plays in nowadays. My time at home is limited; things like laundry, pedicures, unpacking and repacking all need to be done before I leave again. None of it got done today. Tennis match and all.


As a reward to myself after three hours in the gorgeous Southern California winter sunshine, I yelped Japanese in Northridge and came across Small Island. Small Island is a family owned authentic little Japanese diner, walk up counter style. And as is obvious from the blog, whenever I get the chance these days it is all about ramen, ramen, ramen.  I had fun with the variety offered at the neat and tidy Small Island.


As I am still learning about ramen styles, of one thing I am sure. The creamy white tonkatsu is my favorite style. (For now).  But I am enjoying ramen experimentation.


I started D with a nice little sunomono.  Perfect with just a trace of sesame, not overly seaweeded like you sometimes see. And sometimes sunomono is really watery. The above was not so saucy, just really good flavors balanced between some seaweed, cukes and carrots.


One yelper waxed positively about the simple green salad.  Nice portion, great dressing.  Not the typical ginger dressing, this one.  I definitely tasted the standard ginger, but it was balanced with something nicely acidic.


D ordered the miso ramen, as usual.  Small Island was so busy at lunch today that they ran out of eggs!  The owner generously offered to split the last egg in half and give us both more chashu.  Very generous, pork meat is more expensive than eggs.


And this pork was gorgeous. Sliced more thinly than chashu at some other ramnyas near us, and less fatty. I know for some people the fat is the point. And this was certainly fatty enough to assist the beautiful flavors in the bowl. But again, as with other items in this meal, there was a nice balance.  The bowl above is my chashu miso ramen. Lots of bamboo shoots but I would have liked more green onions and greens. God, I think I have typed that exact sentence before in another review. But I was very pleased, because ultimately it's always about the broth and this one was perfect. Nowhere near as rich as the tonkatsu at Rokuan and just as tasty as the broth at Daikokuya.  (I have decided my problem with Daikokuya is that their broth is inconsistent).


Wanting to try something else on the menu for kicks, I asked what the house specialities are at Small Island.  What is really popular? The ramen, curries and California Rolls. California rolls? zzzzzzzzzzzz.  So I ordered the beef curry. We both ate a couple bites and brought the rest home. The portions were very hearty, the beef was nicely lean and the curry was not too pushy.


In the curry, as I rooted around investigatively, I found sauteed onions and I don't know what else. Lots of little vegetal chunks of yumminess. Lunch tomorrow.  I would definitely hit Small Island again, were I in the neighborhood.


Bruno said...

Great post. I'm always looking for good noodles.

up periscope said...


you don't have to approve this comment; just wanted to let you know because it is driving me crazy and you did it twice in the post, so you must not realize...

the milky pork bone ramen you so love is tonKOtsu, not tonKAtsu.

ton = pork
katsu = fried filet
kotsu = associated with bone (not the actual word for bone itself)

Food, she thought. said...

Up Periscope: So sorry to offend. The food (despite misspelling) was delicious and I wish this spot was closer to my house. You should really pop in for a visit.