Wednesday, February 24, 2010

A Shoyu Ramen @ Eboshi And A Niboshi Ramen @ Ramen California

Didn't know I'd be having two very wa-fu ramens this day.. A work related errand to L.A. over the weekend gave me the idea of finally checking out Ramen California. I guessed that the big buzz would have settled down by now and I'm just not big on waiting in lines.. (with an exception when in Japan). Anyway it would be that I found RC closed at 2:40PM and to reopen again for dinner at 5:30. Darn! So then decided to check out Eboshi which was a few minutes away. I vaguely remembered visiting here with friends back in early 2000 and that was way before having this blog..

I got the Mini Trio for ~$9 or so with extra pork Chashu (+$1.90). The mini trio comes with a half order of ramen, in this case Shoyu, half order of fried rice or "hanchan", and three gyozas.

Describing the Shoyu Ramen's soup to be light wouldn't be an understatement but I appreciated the subtle wa-fu flavor of the broth. I would guess some dried fish (and I swore I even tasted a hint of kombu dashi) with a main base of probably chicken stock.

This definitely was not your mouth water inducing high savory bowl where Rameniac and Go Ramen went as far as describing it as flat out bland.. If you asked me I'd be honest and say I'd prefer a heartier soup as well but it was hard to criticize the pretty bowl since the noodles used were actually very decent (a nice springiness and chew) and the chashu was also on the lean side to match the soup and all this just didn't feel so arbitrary. After all these years this (very) light Shoyu is clearly Eboshi's thing and witnessing the slow but constant flow of patrons during the light sprinkle of rain and chilly kinda day it was made it apparent.

The Chahan fried rice and Gyoza actually came before the ramen and I thought they were good. The clanking sound of the wok being tossed was so great the few seconds after I had placed my order.

The fried rice was also seasoned lightly but with chopped bits of the pork chashu that is used in the ramen with eggs, scallions, and also some shiitake mushrooms, a pinch of benishoga pickled ginger as a garnish on the side. Hot and fluffy. It had just the right glisten of oil where I also seasoned it to my taste with a light drizzle of soy sauce and a few dashes of white pepper.

The gyoza was a slightly larger than usual hand made and served with a nice fried crisp on one side. The filling was the familiar ground pork and minced (and strained) hakusai but I thought it had a nice balance of ginger, garlic, and chive flavor. These I can eat all day long without tiring.. :)

I really loved the vibe of Eboshi. When my friends and I visited many years ago it was squeaky new, but the place now has a pleasant aged patina. The light rain and the cold certainly didn't hurt priming me for the warm homey meal but also as I entered, a gray haired soft spoken chef in white cook's attire was chatting with two local kids chilling after soccer practice reading some manga comic books.

You can say I was dearly charmed by Eboshi's atmosphere and if the shoyu ramen isn't to your taste the rest of the menu if I can say so myself is a fatso's lunch dream(!?), haha.

Kanitama, Hoikoro, Subuta, Mabo Nasu, Mabo Tofu, Curry.. You name it it's probably there. Would I recommend anyone going out of their way to visit the place? Out in deep Torrance Lomita, not really.. But if I lived or worked in the area Eboshi would probably be my home away from home meal spot.

Later the evening I stopped by Torrance again. Not exactly en route heading back but the detour was a small price to pay to finally check out Ramen California.

Rameniac's post here, Keizo of Go Ramen's here, and Edjusted's of Ramen and Goodies Blog here, and judging you'd think I would be trying many of the tempting Califorinia fusion ramens but I was actually interested in the most Japanese Niboshi (dried baby sardine) Ramen ($8.95 - 20 oz regular size). (Update: Rameniac mentions the dried fish component is comprised of a blend of bonito, mackerel, and sardine.)

Yes! A deep depth dive of niboshi infused (chicken) broth.. Smoky yet flavors as clear as if my taste buds had a pair of those night vision goggles.. Great, though maybe it was the years of consuming MSG that I'm sure has altered my genetic sequence by now but I thought it could've used a teeny bit of sodium. Noodles were a firmer thin side straight type with a nice flavor of (cooked) flour.

The house made Chashu was interesting in that it almost had the texture and flavor of fatty dark chicken meat. Maybe it was the broth seeping through the very thin cut that it was. The flavored hanjuku egg I had on the side was a near perfect half cooked, the center of the yolks glistening in clear dark amber and the whites almost tender as that of a freshly cooked over-easy egg.

Though unlike most ramen joints the atmosphere at RC is also very Californian in concept as well where it was akin to a moody wine bar (at least for dinner). You won't be welcome greeted by any loud chant of Japanese『いらっしゃいませ!!』here. Stand by the quiet entrance with a little patience and you'll be escorted to your seat.

But with the myriad styles of ramen existing, if a Californian ever fruits into mainstream (California Sushi Roll anyone?), you can say you had it here first which is quite exciting. Can't wait to be back to try more..

Ramen California, 24231 Crenshaw Blvd #C, Torrance, CA 90505


K and S said...

both look great!

Dennis K. said...

Hi K&S! I'd have a hard time deciding! Sometimes the food isn't just about the food.. :)

edjusted said...

Oo, nice. I don't think they had niboshi ramen when I last went to Ramen California. Thanks, I need to go check it out again!

Dennis K. said...

Hi Edjusted, I'd like to have the larger size of it next time but I probably should try two others I haven't tried yet in the mini.. Oh the choices