I was reading Nonstop Honolulu the other day and came across Mari Taketa's (@nonstopmari) "What is it about saimin?" Saimin is a noodle soup unique to Hawaii with Japanese, Chinese, and Filipino ingredients. Spending a lot of summers in Hawaii with my grandparents, I grew up with saimin and still love it many years later. Although there aren't really good saimin places in Southern California, I had to look for a noodle place that would satisfy my urge for this local favorite.
A few months ago, my friend introduced me to Foo Foo Tei in Hacienda Heights. Foo Foo Tei is a unique place that serves 31 different types of ramen or at least that is the base. My friend happened to read postings from http://www.goramen.com/ . OK, this is a small world, I know Keizo (@GoRamen) who heads the site and is the ramen master in my book. Keizo tried the 31 different ramens each day for a month, you can read about his ramen adventure on his site. I don't think I could eat that much ramen, would have to have a few carne asada taco breaks...
But today, it was all about noodles, so I went to Foo Foo Tei for lunch and ordered #11 - Ebi Wantan Men (shrimp wonton noodle soup)
The Ebi Wantan Men (Shrimp Wonton Noodles)
Very hot steaming bowl
Served with shrimp, baby bok choy, egg noodles, and wontons.
A few minutes after I ordered, it arrived at the table steaming hot, the picture didn't come out too clear with all of the steam. A steaming bowl is a sign of a good Japanese bowl of noodles. Not sure why other ramen shops take so long, when they just serve noodles in different broths. Foo Foo Tei is really fast, especially with all of the components that were in my #11.
The roe made the wantans POP!
One of the Best I've Had!
Murakami san is a Genius! Using the soup broth to flavor the gyozas is AMAZING! The bottoms are really crunchy, but the filling is well cooked and served with grated daikon (giant white radish).
I love eating at Foo Foo Tei, there's so many different ramen varieties, in addition to a great kitchen menu. They do get crazy busy for lunch, so be prepared to wait.
I had lunch with Melissa Chang (@Melissa808) yesterday and she mentioned that people had sent their saimin stories to Mari and she posted another article "Saimin: I get it." So Mari, sometimes food like saimin doesn't make sense and there's a few out there that I don't get either. But for me, saimin is a part of growing up in Hawaii and spending time with my grandparents. I'll always remember that time in my life, because when you can't have saimin...that's when you REALLY want it...
You can read Mari's post on saimin: http://www.nonstophonolulu.com/blogs/what-is-it-about-saimin/
Photos by Jay Terauchi