$10 Tuesdays - Mitsuwa

It's lunch hour, and I find myself at Mitsuwa - 3760 S. Centinela Avenue. The market is filled with people shopping for Japanese groceries and eating noodle soups or rice bowls. Mitsuwa is proclaimed to be West Los Angeles' Japanese marketplace.

Here you find Japanese brand shops, restaurants, and a grocery store filled with many traditional items. If craving authentic Japanese cuisine, this is the place to go.

There are three different little restaurants within the market, each have a counter where you place your order, and when the food is ready, they call your order number through speakers that are heard throughout the market.

A Japanese friend recommends the noodle dishes at one of the restaurants, Santouka, so I decide to spend this week’s $10 on a Spicy Miso Ramen. The soups at Santouka come in three different sizes; I order the medium for $7.99. This might sound expensive for a soup, but the amount of food is more than enough for lunch.

While waiting for my ramen, I think that I'll have time to look around a little, but it doesn’t take more than a few minutes before my number is being announced on the loudspeaker.

I find a seat next to an old lady that I perceive to be Japanese, and get a little embarrassed because my soup-eating chopstick technique is not that great.

My bowl is filled with ramen noodles, pork, spring onions, and pieces of black kikurage - a wavy shaped mushroom with a chewy gelatinous texture, commonly found in Asian cuisine. The ingredients are served in a spicy miso broth, giving it an edgy taste that lingers on your lips and tongue, just the way spicy food should be.

Santouka also has a combo consisting of ramen soup, a small bowl of rice, and an egg on top for just under $10. Not to worry, complimentary water is found next to the register.

After lunch, I take some time to look around the grocery store. I’m a fan of roasted seaweed snacks, and at Mitsuwa you can find them in all different shapes and sizes. The snacks are salty and sweet, and a bit healthier than chips or candy. A big bag of seaweed snacks at Mitsuwa costs just $2.99.

Mitsuwa market is good for either lunch or dinner. And be sure to reserve a little time before or after your meal to stroll around the market and look at all the items being sold.

The market is open every day from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., and they have a large free parking lot outside.

Yay! – The food was prepared really fast, and an old lady taught me the proper way to hold chopsticks.

Nay! - The restaurants only accepted cash.