Sunday, September 15, 2013

2013 Los Angeles Ramen Yokocho Fest

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Last Sunday, I was helping out my friend
and Today I'm at the Ramen Yokocho Fest!

I have to admit, I haven't really had a lot of
ramen lately, if you follow me on Instagram,
you know I eat more Vietnamese pho.

I do have my ramen favorites.
When I do eat ramen, my favorite is tonkotsu (pork broth)

Our goal today was to try places
from outside of the Los Angeles area.

Hearing and seeing pics of yesterday's madness,
we decided to get there early, about 9:15 am.
About a 100 people in front of us.

The gates open at 10 am.
By the time we got in, it was just
after 10:30.

After you purchase your food and drink tickets,
you enter the festival grounds.
Ramen = $8
Sodas = $2
Water = $1

With tickets in hand, you look for the 
end of the line of the ramen you want to try.

I wanted to try the only vendor from Japan,
Kitakata Ramen Bannai
and the hand crumpled noodles.

Wonder if they're really hand crumpled?

I happened to find the end of the line right away,
the girl in front of me handed me the sign
that said, "End of the Line for Kitakata"
which I handed to the 5 people now standing
behind me.

See What Jay Eats...

from Honolulu, HI

It was a cold offering, with the noodles
in a sesame and chili oil paste.

Overheard the couple behind me say that
if they wanted a salad, they would not
have come to a ramen festival.
Guess they weren't fans of the greens...

I did like the flavor,  I wouldn't have
used the greens that they dressed the noodles with,
maybe they didn't think they hit the $8 price point.
I would've garnished with micro greens if felt the need to use greens.

from Las Vegas

Broth made from pork bones with some
chicken stock for this event.

Good broth and enjoyed the noodles.
I'm not sure why they added the chicken stock...

from Santa Clara, CA

Broth from pork bones, chicken bones, and vegetables,
but light flavor.

I liked the noodles on this one
and went well with the light broth. 

Tsujita LA Artisan Noodles
This was the only local place we tried,
only because they had something special for the festival

Tokyo Hiyashi Niboshi Ramen

It was a cold preparation, I love citrus and
was one of my favorites of the day. 

Because of my catering experience and
have served 300 - 1,200 people all at one
time, I really don't get doing everything
one at a time.
Sorry, occupational hazard.

OK, from cooking the noodles to the precise
amount of time, I get it, please no DMs.

I will have to say that Kitakata was cooking noodles
by batch and then dividing it into 10 bowls at a time.

Daikokuya was there,
another Los Angeles local ramen chain...

But I was here for something I can't get
in Los Angeles 
the LONGEST Line!

Kitakata Ramen Bannai
from Japan 

The wait was close to 2 hours, at least
that's what the friend of the two guys in front of me
said, as she kept bringing them water and ramen.

I was going to say this was the longest I've waited
for food, but I do believe that we waited over 2 hours
just as the Kogi truck hit it big...
If we had only gone a week before, would have
waited 10 minutes.

So the pork is "Hand-prepared",
sounds like a good tag line.

"Toro-Chashu", I'm assuming it's pork belly,
 and according to the ad, "will melt in your mouth"

So after waiting in line for about 2 hours
and having tasted 4 bowls of ramen,
it's finally time...

Hand Crumpled Curly Noodles
with the Toro-Chashu.

The noodles were thick and reminded
me of saimin noodles
And the pork was tender and flavorful.
The broth was good, but not the best of the day.

I was satisfied with this one
and the line didn't seem to
bother me by the time I
tasted the chashu.

We had an extra ticket and ended up
getting two bowls,
so we each got 2 pieces of pork,

 The is my souvenir from Kitakata Ramen
for waiting about 2 hours in line
for a great piece of pork!

I have no idea what it says,
but my guess is
"I waited in this lousy line and
all I got was a great piece of pork"

With that said,
we were outta there by 12:45 pm.

I want to Thank my friends who
came along and we were able to
taste 5 different ones in about
2 hours of time.

I didn't get a chance to walk around and take
pictures or see the other ramen booths, 
because I was in line most of the time.

Yes, there were other 9 other ramen vendors,
but only so much time we wanted to spend there.

We did see a couple of vendors knocking off the Ramen Burger,
I did see a girl who bite into it and it fell apart in the wrapper.
Images of Hamburger Helper came to mind...

Kezio Shimamoto's Ramen Burger falls apart, but in your mouth.
The Original looked so much better.
Yes, I'm bias...

Pass the Chopsticks!

Photos by Jay Terauchi
Jay Eats Worldwide

Monday, September 9, 2013

An American Spin on a Japanese Classic

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The Original Ramen Burger!

Created by Keizo Shimamoto

NYC's latest food craze made it's way to
the West Coast for a special pop up
on September 7-8, 2013.

More than a 1,000 people showed up at Mitsuwa
in Torrance on Saturday for one of the coveted
500 Ramen Burgers.

 Sunday's Pasadena Pop up
30 People in line at 9:30 am
outside of 
Osawa Restaurant

When Keizo told me he was moving to Japan
to study ramen, I knew he would come back
with something HUGE!  It was an honor
to work with him at the Pasadena pop up AND 
to finally try the dish he had been working on. 

Burgers Up!
(cause I'm not sure how to say it in Japanese...)

Just before 11 am,
the Pasadena Ramen Burger Pop up 
is Now Open!

Keizo signed a lot of T-shirts 

I didn't get an autograph, but did go home with a 
stain on my shirt, I'm a messy eater...
Actually the stain was from clean up.

Fox 11 showed up to interview Keizo
and get the info on the Ramen Burger.

I had to stop working cause he was standing at my station,
so I got a break...

Ramen Burger assembly

From the customer's POV...

The Ramen Burger is wrapped in
a beautiful origami-like wrapper,
developed for the Ramen Burger.
Here's a video, I didn't have a great picture of the beautiful wrapper

There were 6 people who got back in line
and bought another one. 

Yes, Keizo has fans in Pasadena...

The Last Customers! 

Sunday's Ramen Burger Crew,
except for the burger bouncers
who were outside with the line.

and Jeff Shimamoto.

See What Jay Eats...

Now it's My Turn!

Besides the ramen bun, there's arugula, green onions
and a beef patty with Keizo's secret sauce.
The ramen bun is soft and falls apart in your mouth.

The flavor profile is like having shoyu ramen
and the arugula gives it a hint of peppery flavor.
What's ramen without green onions, right?

It was really good, not exactly sure what to call it...
It tastes like shoyu ramen, but it's a burger. 
It doesn't come in a bowl and there's no soup.
It's just good...

As Anthony Bourdain would say,
"this doesn't suck"

 Here's the Secret to the Ramen Burger

OK, so none left...

It takes Keizo about 4 hours to make
this special sauce.
Don't ask me what's in it, it's a secret.

Look for the Original Ramen Burger!

NOTE:  Osawa Restaurant in Pasadena does not serve the
Ramen Burger on their menu, it was the location for the pop up.
They do have a wonderful menu of shabu shabu and sushi.
Please visit them online at

Photos by Jay Terauchi
Jay Eats