Mitsuwa Marketplace Santa Monica is actually located in the Los Angeles neighborhood of Mar Vista, and it is equidistant from Santa Monica to Venice. It is probably called the Santa Monica location because it is nearby the Santa Monica Airport. Although this place is not within walking distance to our home, my husband and I find it worthwhile to drive to Mitsuwa, either to grab a bite to eat, or to go grocery shopping for the days we plan to prepare sushi at home.
Mitsuwa Marketplace is a Japanese mini-mall of sorts, housing a grocery store, a food court, various Japanese bakeries/patisseries (mochi and sweet breads) and Japanese gift shops (Sanrio, etc.). If sushi is what you’re into, you are welcome to grab freshly prepared portable dishes at the grocery store. There is an excellent variety of other Japanese fare for those patrons who are not sushi fans, but hands down the local favorite food stalls are Santouka (best ramen ever) & Hannosuke (best tempura and udon ever).
About two weeks ago, President Obama was in town, which meant that L.A. traffic was at a standstill. It was also raining that Friday morning so after our brief visit to Venice Pier, my husband and I decided to drive away from the traffic, towards Mitsuwa. We got the last available street parking space and walked into the food court, only to find that there was an unusual amount of patrons in line for Santouka and Hannosuke. Apparently everyone else on the Westside wanted to avoid the Obama traffic and eat warm Japanese food, too.
My husband and I settled on purchasing sushi hand rolls and sashimi from the Marketplace and decided to dine at the food court anyway, despite the crowd. Luckily, we happened upon a small table for two, where we began to enjoy our lunch.
Because of the close quarters, we began to commiserate with other Mitsuwa food court patrons, two men who just met each other and decided to share a table of four. The four of us were at Mitsuwa for the same reasons: to treat ourselves to an awesome lunch while waiting for the Obama traffic and the rainfall to die down. We also shared laughs about how our related yet drastically different professional backgrounds in Hollywood — an entertainment attorney, a line-producer, a screenwriter and a graphic designer/photographer, respectively — along with our openness in sharing our personal challenges of our day-to-day lives, made for this serendipitous chance meeting.
We needed human contact and Mitsuwa provided that for us.
We finally parted ways after about 90 minutes of a combination of light and heavy conversation and hoped that we would one day cross paths again at Mitsuwa Marketplace.
Today, my husband and I wanted to see if we would bump into our new friends again, so we headed to Mitsuwa for lunch. The food court was not crowded this time even though the few dining tables available were all occupied.
We decided to order tempura from Hannosuke and were glad we did. I mean, just look at the delicious platters! These tempura and rice/udon platters were indeed simple food, yet they were full of complex earthy flavors. Oh, by the way, as luck would have it, a table opened up. Our new friends, though, were nowhere to be seen.
We began to reminisce about our chance meeting with the two food companions from two weeks ago. I then remembered that I began following one of our new friends on Instagram, so I contacted him through there. He later commented on my post; as luck would have it, we just missed him by two hours as he was at Mitsuwa earlier that day. We made loose plans to meet up again soon.
3760 S. Centinela Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90066
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