Quickly dropped by Mitsuwa SD during my lunch break today for a tasting of an Okinawa Soba available at their ongoing Kyushu & Okinawa Fair. Started today and will continue on until Sunday the 19th. I need to say that I've been crazy busy this week and so this post will mostly cover the soba while I plan to do another more detailed post hopefully after a second visit sometime this weekend.
As a demo meal I wasn't expecting anything amazing like some of the bowls I've been drooling over recently on the blog Hwn Pake In Okinawa but I knew a tasting at Mitsuwa's fair would be fun and if you didn't already know, myself being part Okinawan descent, I almost felt covering it was... my duty?? So I'm here to represent!
Mitsuwa SD's 2009 Kyushu & Okinawa Fair, Okinawa Soba ($6.90, courtesy of Kayaba Restaurant).
Size was as usual on the smaller side as with Ramen tastings I've experienced here and the toppings of kamaboko fish cake and the meaty/fatty layered San-mai Niku with a touch of beni-shoga and scallions were present in a minimally sufficient quantity to fit the serving size..
The San-mai Niku (which translates to three-layered meat) had the expected light sweet soy sauce flavor but was surprisingly remarkably tender.
Honestly I've been used to a much more rustic version that I remember chomping on often at room temperature (during New Year's) but I felt this melty factor from most stewed (and guilty) fatty-pork was a given expectation these days. And come to think it is almost impossible for me to imagine when extremely tender pork would ever be a bad thing.. :)
The typical soup in an Okinawa Soba has a characteristic strong bonito aroma and flavor. The stock not surprising is made from it but with also pork and maybe seaweed. Tasting here, the good news was that if someone had told me the broth today was made from scratch I would have believed it, but at the same time the not so great news was that it was extremely thin. Much way too thin. But it was one of their very first bowls served immediately after opening so hopefully this had improved over the course of the day.
The noodles in an OS although described as "soba" does not contain buckwheat but made only with flour. From experience it tends to typically lack the chew or stretch of say a great udon for reasons what I can only explain as tradition(?). A more recent modern interpretation of this noodle may have more the "koshi" but I'm admittedly used to the slightly porous stuff that absorbs the flavor of the broth near the end of the meal which was the case here. :)
I'm definitely going to try it again if not for the novelty of the experience but for that tender san-mai niku, yum.
As usual my selfish wish list to cap, it would've been awesome if they went all out with a good chunky hunk of Soki (stewed pork ribs often with bone) for a much bigger impression of this one of Okinawa's signature meals. Tebichi (stewed pigs feet) would be another fantastic topping option where I would go as far as recruiting my mother for next year in helping out if need be.
Next just a few items quickly that are available to be purchased at the fair..
My No. 1 to try this weekend may be the Umibudo (or Sea Grapes).
The Kume-jima Raayu I can only say is an "inspired by the the original" Ishigaki-jima Raayu but I'm willing to try a small bottle. I'm curious if the Shima Togarashi (island hot peppers) does make the difference in umami which makes me want to drench the entire bottle of hot oil (of the Ishigaki stuff) all over my meal.
Next were all the yummy looking Kamaboko in the Kyushu section. I think it was ~1.50 for one or five for $6.50.
The bad food blogger that I am didn't take enough notes and I had ordered what looked good on the spot.
Later tasting, the best to me was the darker one in the middle that I believe was made with Iwashi sardines. I really enjoyed this which had a darker fish meat but sweet flavor and also contained sweet onions. The two longer stems to the right had crunchy Gobo root in them and pretty tasty while the triangular, almost tofu-looking one on top I would guess was a type of Hanpen and very smooth textured with an addition of green onions. The last to the left was almost like an Ganmodoki (but made with fish of course) with lots of finely chopped vegetables. All were great and I'm ready to try more! And who knew deep fried fish paste can be so diverse in variety and all so tasty?
As I said just a quick survey today and hoping to cover the many more items I've seen later this weekend! :)
Mitsuwa Market, 4240 Kearny Mesa Rd #119, San Diego, CA 92111