After all the fried chicken and batter-dipped reubens we polished off at Taste of the Nation on Sunday, we hardly figured tempura would fit into our diets today. But late this morning we found ourselves staring into a rice bowl topped with Hannosuke's orange fried things, looking like they might attack us in a scene ripped from Beetlejuice. Yesterday, this self-proclaimed tendon technician, imported from a similarly named Tokyo restaurant, opened inside of the food court at Mitsuwa Market in Mar Vista to serve just two dishes: its "Original" tempura donburi of lightly fried white fish, egg, shrimp, sweet potato, nori, shishito pepper, and kakiage with shrimp and scallop on sticky rice ($8.95 with a side of pickled ginger and bowl of miso) and an "Edo-style" bowl that replaces the white fish with Tokyo anago, a salt-water eel ($12.95).
We must note that the new stand looks beautiful, spread with fresh flowers given to the owners to congratulate them on their debut, in addition to its modern facade of wooden slats and carved crustaceans. Chowhounders who arrived for yesterday's opening complained of long waits, and worse, soggy seafood, in addition to one set of keen eyes that spotted staff from Tsujita (who launched a three-day test run in this same space), drawing a possible connection between the two imports.
It's only day two, of course, but our initial impressions found the tempura batter itself to be quite flavorful, with slight notes of round citrus and sweetness balancing its viscosity; though it is not a particularly crisp one, if that's what you seek. The true joys lay beneath the slightly sodden batter, with each ingredient bearing a plumpness preserved by the business' promise to cook everything to order, giving each encased bite a sort of sous vide vibe.
The shrimp are fattened and ready to burst, an egg yolk is just barely held in order by its flour shell, and the white fish feels perfectly juicy and jiggly. The shishito was the soundest standout, its flavors flaring through a sheer application of the batter.
Over all, Hannosuke has the potential to be a draw for those curious to see tempura stand as a star among West L.A.'s ever-vital Japanese dining scene and certainly distinguishes itself among the food court with an original concept and presentation. We can't wait to see how the new stand is operating in a few weeks once its feet are wet.
Hannosuke, at Mitsuwa Market's Food Court, 3760 South Centinela Ave. Mar Vista.