Saturday, March 29, 2014

Los Angeles Ramen Yokocho 2014

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March 29 - 30, 2014
Santa Anita Park
Japan Cup and Japan Family Day

Watch the festival commercial HERE

March is National Noodle Month!
What a way to end the month...

Few will believe that there is actually a food festival for Ramen in the U.S.  This was the second year in Los Angeles and the largest ramen festival in the U.S.  14 ramen vendors from Japan, Las Vegas, San Diego, San Jose, and Los Angeles converged on Santa Anita Park in Arcadia on a sunny Saturday to begin this 2 day noodle fest.  I attended the 1st Los Angeles Ramen Yokocho in Torrance, IMO it was the wrong venue, but the ramen was good.

Santa Anita Park is a great location, not just for 626 Night Market, but the infield venue was larger than I thought.  Today it was filled with boiling pots of broths, some taking up to 20 hours to make, and lots of fresh noodles.  Growing up, I often think of the dried packages of noodles and in 45 seconds, ramen is ready.  Today, we have gourmet ramen vendors creating magic with pork bones, noodles and red ginger.  OK, if you follow me on Instagram, you know I ask for extra ginger at Shin-Sen-Gumi.

But today, I'm at Santa Anita Park for the 2014 Los Angeles Ramen Yokocho!

*Photo by Kristie Hang
I guess you can tell who the STAR is in this photo, right?

See What Jay Eats...

Tonkotsu Miso Ramen
San Diego

Loved the seasoned egg!

My visit to Tajima Ramen HERE

Ran into @backyardbite

Read her post HERE

Lots of stock pots on the burners

Expecting about 10,000 friends over for ramen?

Tonkotsu with Chicken and Vegetable Stock
Las Vegas

I remembered them from last year
and just as good!

Stopped to watch the traditional tea ceremony

One question, where's the boba?
j/k, pls no DMs

Ran into my friend Matt
from MEN-OH
with the Famous Tokushima Ramen.

The famous Tokushima Ramen,
a creamy shoyu tonkotsu

@KristieHang is back from Hong Kong
in time for Ramen Yokocho 2014

Read Kristie's post HERE

Propane burners aplenty...

Signature Tonkotsu
with a broth of whole chicken and chicken feet.
San Jose

Yes, there were lines...

BUT, I do have to say this is a better venue than last year.
Plenty of parking, bathroom facilities, other food,
and room to find a seat or sit in the grass and enjoy
the beautiful San Gabriel mountains.

The Fusion Ramen
Las Vegas

Just a bit too much garlic for my taste.

Lots of water needed for the noodles.
It was funny hearing the cooks mentioning
the different cooking times.

Sorry, not sharing any secrets...

Before I share my favorites,
there was horse racing too...

Let me first say that I enjoyed all 8 of the ones that I tried,
 but these were my 3 favorites of the day
(not in any order)


#1 in Kyushu
with a signature chashu

Tsujita Tokyo
Los Angeles

If you live in Los Angeles, you know what I mean...

Toyama Black Mapo Ramen
Mattou Seimen

I liked this one, maybe because it wasn't tonkotsu.
It was a bit spicy, but not hot.  It had ground pork (my guess)
and I'm a sucker for a green onion stalk and love bean sprouts.

See the @backyardbite's Tastemade video

What I learned today...
I need to get a big screen!

Actually, the ramen was good today.
I wish there was more of a ramen variety by the vendors.
Tonkotsu still seems to be the flavor of the moment.

The event planners did a better job on the 2nd year,
just ask 626 Night Market how their 1st year went?
I'm sure next year will even be better!

Kenichi Ota

Have chopsticks, 
Will travel for Ramen!

Checkout @TammyLaLaLand 2014 Ramen Yokocho Tastemade video HERE

Read my 2013 Los Angeles Ramen Yokocho post

Photos by Jay Terauchi
*Photo by Kristie Hang
Jay Eats Worldwide

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Upcoming Ramen Festival - March 29-30, 2014

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March is National Noodle Month!

One of the things I wanted to do on my 2001 trip to Japan was to visit a typical ramen shop.  I knew I haven't really had good ramen and looking forward to what RAMEN really is or at least what I had heard.  Before we left on our 10+ hour flight to Tokyo, we stopped at Hakata Ramen in Gardena.  I usually have really good Mexican food before a trip, but was open for something really good before we got on the plane.  Oddly, Shin Sen Gumi is one of my "goto" places for simple ramen.  If you follow me on Instagram, you know I like extra ginger!
(Now you know the background story)

After my trip to Japan, I realized that we didn't really have good ramen here at the time.  Fast forward to 2014, we have some pretty good ramen place in the Southern California area.  Add in some good places on the West Coast and a few from Japan and the 2014 Ramen Yokocho is the place to be to sample ramen from all over.

The Largest Ramen Show in the U.S. is Back!
March 29 - 30, 2014

See What Jay Eats...

 Ramen Time!
(pictures from Ramen Yokocho 2013 in Torrance)

In line for Japan's Kitakata Ramen Bannai

The 2014 Ramen Yokocho Show will
feature 4 ramen restaurants from Japan.

 This Kitakata Ramen had the best chashu
at the festival and worth the wait.

Behind the Scenes
as vendors prepare noodles
for several bowls at a time.

Tokyo Hiyashi Niboshi Ramen
(special ramen for the event)
Tsujita LA Artisan Noodles
(2013 Ramen Yokocho)

6 restaurants from Los Angeles
4 restaurants from Japan
2 restaurants from Las Vegas
1 restaurant from San Jose
1 restaurant from San Diego

March 29 - 30, 2014
Santa Anita Park

Parking:  $4
Admission:  $5
Japan Fun Family Day at Santa Anita
All Ramen $8/bowl

Read my 2013 Ramen Yokocho
post HERE

Grab Some Chopsticks,
Let's Eat!

Follow me on Instagram for pictures
and/or Twitter
from Ramen Yokocho 2014

If you're not into ramen,
you can look for the Seabiscuit statue
at Santa Anita Park

Read my 2014 Los Angeles Ramen Yokocho

Photos by Jay Terauchi
Jay Eats Worldwide

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Ichiban Ramen: Non-MSG Chicken Ramen

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There are a LOT of ramen places in Gardena and Torrance.  I don't get out to too many of the Japanese ramen places in the South Bay much, although I do have my favorites.  To me, most have very similar menus and as one of my friends from Japan would say, "same same."

A friend of mine, Jesse Hiraki, told me about a new ramen restaurant in Torrance, which happens to be owned by a friend of his.  After a dinner meeting, Jesse and I stopped in.  I noticed the wine menu on the wall as we walked in and another sign that said "Non-MSG Chicken Ramen."  I knew I needed to try the ramen, even though we had dinner already.  

On a second visit, a few friends and I decided to have dinner at Ichiban Ramen, I also invited a friend visiting from Hawaii and her now-mainland based friend to join us.  We ordered a bunch of menu items, here's some of what we ordered.

See What Jay Eats...

Kaarage Chicken
(Japanese fried chicken)

Nice and crispy 
part of tonight's Happy Hour menu.

Tomato Salad with Ginger 

A peeled tomato cut into wedges
topped with ginger.

It was a nice presentation that
I'll have to remember.


I'm a sucker for duck,
this one was my favorite side dish of the evening 

Non-MSG Chicken Ramen
Soy Sauce

With all of the different dishes we ordered,
we all ordered the small size bowls.

This restaurant has small and large size bowls.
Can't think of any ramen restaurant that has different sizes.

Besides the Soy Sauce flavor, they have
Salt and a Spicy Miso flavor ramen.

Since it's chicken base, the broth isn't
really bold.  But on the other-hand
No MSG, so it's good for me.

I'd go back again.

Ichiban Ramen
21605 S Western Ave, Suite J
Torrance, CA 90501
(310) 782-6000

Opens at 5:30 pm

Photos by Jay Terauchi
Jay Eats Worldwide

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Favorite Restaurant Series: Baco Mercat

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I'm always asked what's my favorite restaurant?  I really don't have a favorite, but this one is one of my favorite places.  This is the first of my Favorite Restaurant Series.    

The star of the show here is the "baco", which is a flatbread sandwich created by chef Josef Centeno.  There is a supporting star here, the "coca", which is a flatbread pizza.  The Mediterranean influenced menu has small plates which encourages sharing, so visit with a friend or two.

See What Jay Eats...

"The Toron"
oxtail hash, cheddar tater, horseradish-yogurt

My favorite baco at Baco Mercat!
If you like oxtail, you must order this one.

 "double mushroom"
maitake, crimini, fontina
(with pork belly bacon sausage added)

If you likes mushrooms, this is really good,
especially with the pork belly bacon sausage.  
Worth the extra $5.

"shaved chicory salad"
pecorino, walnuts, anchovy, butter crumbs

The anchovy gave it a nice balance

soft-shell crab baco

Wished the crab was larger, but
loved the house-made pickles.

peach salad

During peach season, must look for this salad, 
especially if you like peaches.

yogurt panna cotta
with blueberries

408 S. Main Street
Los Angeles, CA 90013
(213) 687-8808

Reservations Recommended

Look for my other favorite restaurants...

Photos by Jay Terauchi
Jay Eats Worldwide

Sunday, March 16, 2014

That's What a Hamburger's All About

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Growing up in Southern California, we'd see TV commercials with Los Angeles Ram Jack Youngblood eating a Double-Double (LA Rams, yes it was a long time ago).  There wasn't the Internet to look up where to find an In-n-Out Burger location, just the phone book, remember those?  BUT, I was fortunate to attend a high school that had an In-n-Out Burger down the street.  I have to say, after all of these years, In-n-Out Burger still tastes the SAME!

The Original Replica of In-n-Out Burger
in Baldwin Park, California

Actually this is the second location, the first location is where
the freeway overpass is now located.

Having business in the area, I've driven by this
Original location many times.  It was sad to see
history torn down, but glad that they replaced it
with a replica of the original 10 x 10 building.

In October 1948, the first "Drive-Thru" in California opened.

 Love the prices...

The buildings and signs may not look like this anymore,
but the food and the quality that Harry and Esther Snyder
created still lives on...

See What Jay Eats...

Now it was time to cross to the other side of the freeway
and get something to eat.

Just like how I remember it from high school...

The original replica does not serve any food or drinks,
there is a full service restaurant and company store
on the other side of the freeway.

The Replica of the Original In-n-Out Burger
Thursday - Sunday:
11 am - 2 pm

Francisquito Avenue and I-10 Freeway
in Baldwin Park, California

Photos by Jay Terauchi
Jay Eats Worldwide

Monday, March 10, 2014

Plan Check Kitchen Fairfax: A Stussy Event

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Like most Americans, I grew up on burgers and T-shirts.  Regardless if it was a burger at Original Tommy's on Rampart and Beverly or shopping for T-shirts at the Glendale Galleria, it was one of the things to do growing up in the center of Los Angeles.  

A couple of years ago I was fortunate to get invited to a Stussy event at Plan Check Kitchen on Sawtelle (see my post here).  I was glad to hear that Plan Check Kitchen opened a new location in the Fairfax area, it's a lot closer to home.  Recently, I was invited to a special Stussy event at the latest Plan Check Kitchen location on Fairfax.  More importantly, I was interested to see what Chef Ernesto Uchimura had in mind for this special Stussy menu.  I was NOT disappointed!

A Stussy Event with Great Food! 

See What Jay Eats...

Deluxe Soda
luxardo cherry soda, remy vs cognac, and elderflower foam 

A great way to begin this Stussy event

Tonight's Special Stussy Menu 

 House-made Pickles

I would've been happy eating the pickles,
but I'm sure Chef Ernesto had some special
things to sample tonight.

 My Posse's on Fairfax Fries
taco seasoned fries, avocado guac, habanero salsa, cotija crema,
escabeche, and cilantro

I'm not sure if it's because I don't eat fries much these days,
but these fries were really good.  I'm sure the toppings
had a lot to do with it, they were really good
and should be on the regular menu.

I.S.T Burger
beef patty, braised brisket fritter, melty swiss, sweet onion spread,
horseradish mustard, and parsley salad. 
(This was a special burger for the Stussy event)

It was one of the best burgers that I've had in awhile, maybe it's
because of the brisket.  I'm a sucker for a good brisket, not many
know how to do a brisket justice outside of Texas.
This one was really good.

8-Ball Donuts
chocolate donut balls, coco dusted, chocolate cream,
whip cream, and raspberries.

A nice way to end this special evening.

351 N Fairfax Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90036
(310) 288-6500

A New Plan Check Kitchen is slated for
Wilshire Blvd in Downtown Los Angeles.
Opening 2014

Plan Check Kitchen - Sawtelle
Stussy Event, Click Here

Thank You!
Backyard Bite
(aka Amy T. Shuster)
Kristie Hang
Jorge Oswaldo
Plan Check Kitchen
Ernesto Uchimura

Photos by Jay Terauchi
Jay Eats