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Mar Vista’s Bacon, Egg, and Bonito ‘Okonomiyaki Burrito’ Is a Japanese-Mexican Street Food Classic

1:02 PM PDT on July 21, 2022

    Takuma’s okonomiyaki burrito

    Los Ángeles is a city of tacos, with new taquerías popping up on street corners around the county weekly. To help us get through them all, L.A. TACO presents our Taco of the Week” column, where we celebrate the latest taco we’ve eaten that blew our minds.

    Takuma Fumoto is a superhero on Centinela.

    Not only because the native of Japan and longtime L.A. street food presence stepped out of his truck in March to defend a mother and her baby from a random attack on the Mar Vista avenue where he operates. But also because he puts yakisoba in his burritos and pork tonkatsu in his quesadillas and manages to make it all work.

    Takama Fumoto. Photo by Hadley Tomicki for L.A. TACO.
    Takama Fumoto

    Takuma has been constructing U.S. fast food favorites with a Japanese lilt on the L.A. asphalt since first opening a stand in Silver Lake in 2013. There he offered soused revelers fleeing Los Globos the fresh burgers, takoyaki, shaggily battered and audibly crisp waffle fries, and other affordable eats they required in times of great metabolic demand. After getting his truck in 2017, he was driven off the streets by 2020’s plague before making a short-lived reemergence in the old hood.

    Takuma's Burger, Mar Vista. Photo by Hadley Tomicki for L.A. TACO.
    Takuma's Burger, Mar Vista

    But today, you’ll typically find Takuma’s Burger parked at Centinela and Venice Boulevard, straddling the curb outside of Mar Vista’s Mitsuwa, the national Japanese supermarket beloved and besieged by the Westside’s high-median homeowners, Asian emigres, and ramen-addicted University material alike.

    Takuma's Kara-age. Photo by Hadley Tomicki for L.A. TACO.
    Takuma's Kara-age

    There he does a brisk business in crushable curios like clam chowder croquettes, hush puppies, yakitori-shaded kara-age, and burgers with toppings that span the gamut from crab cakes and Kewpie mayo to veggie croquettes and unagi sauce. It’s clear Takuma fires on an improvisational wavelength, thriving in crafting food that is as whimsical as it is adored, if not maybe a bit provocative in certain circles that may feel their peanut butter should have never collided with your chocolate.

    Takuma's okonomiyaki burrito. Photo by Hadley Tomicki for L.A. TACO.
    Takuma's okonomiyaki burrito

    The chef recently went public with a secret, off-menu dish: his okonomiyaki burrito. That is, a flour tortilla rolled up along a glut of the fried, Worcestershire-seasoned wheat noodles known as yakisoba, with cabbage, bonito flakes, Kewpie, egg, teriyaki sauce, mozzarella cheese, seaweed powder, and praise the lord, bacon.

    Okonomiyaki, a sizzling wheat pancake typically topped with meat, cabbage, red ginger, and tidy squirts of multiple sauces but prone to infinite interpretations, maybe to Tokyo street food what the bacon-wrapped hot dog is to Los Angeles.

    When you’re wandering the intersections of Roppongi after a few too many, dazed and confused by all the lights, you know you’ve landed in the right spot when undulating flakes of bonito wave to you from a sidewalk teppan (griddle) before sitting down and doing something you’ll probably regret the following day but desperately need at the moment.

    Okonimayaki burrito. Photo by Hadley Tomicki for L.A. TACO.
    Okonomiyaki burrito. Photo by Hadley Tomicki for L.A. TACO.

    Takuma sells these burritos for $12, with the option of a kimchi burrito for those who won’t get high on the hog. He also offers a quesadilla version.

    Captivated by the concept, we were super stoked to find the burrito is good. Really good. The soft tortilla cedes into a smoky realm we can’t remember tasting inside a burrito before, rich with the layered flavors of soy sauce, accents of funky cabbage, the sudden bite of pickled ginger, soft scrambled egg, and sticky cubes of salty, thick-cut bacon. The yakisoba, meanwhile, plays like a wheat-ier, Japanese style of fideo, a slick tangle of starch sponging up and liberating all the sauces held within for a texturally lively mouthfeel.

    Despite its hybrid nature, the burrito doesn’t strike one as fusion so much as a significant concentration of Japanese street food flavors inside an ideal, handheld vessel. We also did the bacon-less version with kimchi, which works, but is secondary to the version stuffed with pork belly. One can also order it with popcorn chicken or shrimp.

    The only thing missing from our burritos was a robust and sharp salsita to set them off. We deployed our own bottle of Marie Sharp’s to successful results at home and also paired the burritos with the canned, Kyoto-made Junmai of L.A.-based brand Sake High!

    Takuma's tonkatsu quesadilla. Photo by Hadley Tomicki for L.A. TACO.
    Takuma's tonkatsu quesadilla

    We dug into a tonkatsu quesadilla, as well, enjoying the soft, fried pork cutlet encrusted with sweet batter, fried onions, and cheddar cheese, along with the subdued acidity of mustard and Worcestershire sauce and the lingering bitter finish of baby arugula. Like many tonkatsu sandos, it was even better revisited the next day after a night in the fridge.

    For a Mexican food fetishist and former neighbor who once lived off Mitsuwa’s cold tonkatsu sandwiches and marveled at the market’s surprise appearance of a yakisoba sandwich, Takuma Burger’s okonomiyaki burrito and tonkatsu quesadilla felt like the right thing to be enjoyed in the right place.

    We’re eager to come back for a bite of that tortilla full of smoke.

    Takuma’s Burger ~ 3760 S. Centinela Ave. Los Angeles, CA 90066

    The truck commonly appears at this location from 12:00 pm ~7:00 pm, Tues-Sunday, with occasional days off for catering events. Always best to check with Instagram.

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