424 Wilshire Blvd
Santa Monica, CA 90401
To those of you who have ever paid a bill at a tapas restaurant, it would be something of a shock to see an establishment in that genre showcased on a blog called “cheap dates.” Usually, ordering at a tapas restaurant is risky business because you’re initially enticed by what seems like relatively reasonable prices – $6 for a plate of prosciutto, munster, and olives totally seems like a steal until you realize that all three have been compressed into an artfully miniature stack that you can pop into your mouth in one bite. But at Musha Izakaya, nestled inconspicuously between a gas station and a grocery store on 5th and Wilshire in Santa Monica, the portions are bigger, cheaper, and Japanese (no, I did not know that Japanese tapas existed either). The menu is also considerably more vegetarian friendly, making for both a happier spouse (my bf is veg) and somewhat less guilt at meal’s end.
Vegetable miso soup ($2.50 x 2) – My bf and I ordered this soup thinking that it would be perfect as a light first course, but when they brought the soup it was the size of a small cauldron! It also had a slightly different taste than most miso I’ve tasted – there was the requisite tofu, scallions, and seaweed, but also an interesting touch of garlic and leek.
Aski ($6.80) – A big plate of sautéed enoki mushrooms, button mushrooms, garlic, water chestnuts, broccoli, asparagus, and bean sprouts cooked in a light gravy. Simple, but utterly delicious.
Tofu French Fries ($5.95) – These have a different consistency than regular French fries and, in my opinion, taste much, much better. They are also considerably less greasy. They’re one of the most popular items on Musha’s menu!
Green Tea Parfait ($3.50) – One of the most amazing desserts I have ever tried. Green tea frozen yogurt topped with corn flakes, natto (sweet red bean paste), mochi, and two Pirouette cookies. When I first saw the dish come out, I was most hesitant about the corn flakes, but in the end, I really appreciated how they added a nice contrast in texture. The dish is also not too sweet, making for a more subtle dessert experience.
Total Bill: $23.91 (before tip)
Final Verdict: Not super cheap, but for the genre, the area, and the quality of the food, it’s extremely reasonable. The green tea parfait alone makes it worth the trip.