Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Wednesday Onezies - Ramen @ Foo Foo Tei And Kohryu

Been pretty good documenting my meals the last month but many had been not so inspiring to write about. I plan to eventually but these two ramen I had were fun..

I've been wanting to visit Foo Foo Tei (Hacienda Heights) for a long time. My interest was primed by Keizo's FFT ramen challenge, completing all FFT ramen flavors in 31 consecutive days.. wow. So now I'm thinking maybe I should've imposed a deadline for my attempt at completing my personal humble SD lunch spot's menu that started way back in August 2008.. D'oh!
Anyhow Keizo is now in Tokyo living his dream, currently working at Ivan Ramen and hinting at other future possibilities to come but really wish him all the best. Go Ramen! Go Keizo!

I got to FFT only half hour after opening on Sunday (12:30PM) and while there was a light line the wait for me to be seated turned out 35mins while it took another twenty or so to get my meal (including the time I spent continuing to waddle through the menu even at the table.. So many choices!). The folks working were bumblebee busy with room for only an one on one personal greeting and not much else. Too many people to serve and try to keep happy. Surely not a bad thing, while more people seemed to be coming by the minivan load. There were also no shortages of hungry pouty-poo-poo girls, haha. Fyi, PDD (Public Display of Drama) is one of my Biggest Pet Peeves. But that's just me and to be fair, yes we were all hungry.. ;)

Anyway, so I had preemptively nicknamed FFT as "The Baskin-Robbins of ramen shops" in So. Cal. because of their 31 flavors.. But ironically after all the time I had to contemplate what to order I ended up with their basic Shoyu Ramen ($6). I did always think Vanilla was a great ice cream flavor btw.. :)

The par-cooked moyashi bean sprouts was very fresh and added some additional sweetness to each of my spoonfuls dipped into the soup. I thought it was a nice rendition of a classic shoyu bowl (imho). Comes with two slices of extremely tender pork chasu that was marinated very well and had a quarter inch layer of yummy well-rendered gelatinous fat. If I knew they would be so delicious I would've ordered extra. The egg didn't seem marinated much but was a well executed half cooked hanjuku with nice yolky flavor. Noodles springy and very good. And the Gyoza....

Look at those "fry wings"(!) fusing the pieces like a single Hershey's Gyoza Bar.. Haha. Maybe an earlier in the decade visual trend at least in Japan but very pretty and appetite stimulating if you ask me. (You can imitate at home using a light water/cornstarch liquid used for the steaming process and frying it to a crisp at the end.) The skins this day were on the soft side but the filling had a higher than usual pork ratio than I was typically used to in a good way. A looser ground pork mix with some veggies and some nice garlic and chive kick in the background. And at $3.75 for six, a pretty good deal.

There was a small mound of grated daikon radish hiding in the corner which I enjoyed having with as well.

Finally for dessert I had the Curry in a mini size. ($3.50 with any soup noodle dish, otherwise $4.50 a la carte.) Like Ice Cream for some, I have a べつばら (betsubara - separate stomach) for Japanese Curry.

Maybe I really came to Foo Foo Tei to try it. ;) A nice single ladle of beef flavored rue.. rich savory, some sweetness from the umami of vegetables, while with also some medium spicy heat.. The curry was very good and if my appetite allowed I would've had a full serving with a Hamburg or Katsu. おいしかった。。:)

By 1:50PM when I was about done the rush seemed to have subsided quite a bit and next time I would probably shoot for 2PM if I'm not going to make it a few minutes before opening time. The food I had at FFT was very good while everything else on the menu only makes me want to return further. The close to hour wait was one of those double edged experiences you have from a place that seems to have gotten so popular. I think they are open all day on the weekends so I'm going to try visiting during off peak hours next time. My blogger friend Sawyer of Mother May I had also visited FFT in the past and his experience with friends can be found here.

Foo Foo Tei, 15018 Clark Ave, Hacienda Heights, CA 91745

Another random evening running an errand in Costa Mesa I drove by the somewhat familiar Baker Street remembering that I had a decent bowl of ramen some many years ago.. And luck would have it that I found it with relative ease. I remembered those white French doors and windows. But that banner.. I think that was new.(?)

According to GR, Kohryu (originally Koryu) seems to have changed ownership since my visit back in 2002-ish. Also seems the Shoyu Ramen (and even the darker Koi Ramen) may have been the better bet for me this day but I was at their doorstep the evening hungry and sans research.

I had the Yaki-Miso Ramen that was posted on the specials board outside ($8.50). By the name I got the impression that the miso would have been charred a bit in the wok prior to give off a deeper roasty miso flavor, but the "yaki" here seemed to have been meant only for the stir-fry vegetable toppings.

Until I try their regular miso I wouldn't really know the difference. And I'm by far no miso expert but the version here uses the mild lighter colored that (I at least see) used a lot in Southern California miso ramens (and partly why I appreciate Ramen Yakyudori's version with the sharper red Aka Miso). The single pork chasu had some nice "fat veins" running through it but it was more or less unseasoned and without flavor.

The soup was creamy and also fairly sweet for a miso, almost as if it were blended with soy milk..(which I can't say it was or wasn't but just my personal description of the soup here). Noodles were decent and the fried scallions were especially a nice welcome but I couldn't finish the strangely sweeter soup. Not bad but the bowl all in all wasn't exactly what I was hoping for this night.

The Japanese gyozas ($5) I enjoyed more. They were tinged a light green color from all the veggies and chives showing through the translucent skin. A minimum amount of pork to know it was there but mostly veggie based with a pleasant garlic chive flavor.

While I look forward in trying another of Kohryu's ramen, they have a pretty extensive Japanese/Chinese Chuka menu that is quite tempting too.. (Kohryu's menu here.)

Kohryu, 891 Baker St., Costa Mesa, CA 92626


K and S said...

Satoshi and you would definitely get along well :)

Dennis K. said...

Hi K&S! Does Satoshi-san like having curry for dessert? he he.. :)

K and S said...

no but if you put some in front of him (after he's already eaten) I'm sure he'll eat it.

Dennis K. said...

That's awesome. There's just something about Japanese curry that is so hard to resist. For me having one at a generic kissaten cafe in Japan with spoon wrapped in those waxy paper napkins is so great (usually a cowbell on the door clanking as people come in).. haha I'm so weird..

Sawyer said...

nice you finally got to go to foo foo tei! let me know next time you come up. i'd be happy to join you! i haven't gone for quite some time. i never really considered getting curry here, but you made it sound tasty haha...

Dennis K. said...

Hi Sawyer, I definitely will! The curry was nothing fancy but good. The type I wised my mother was able to make as a kid.. haha. No, I loved my mother's food but you know how they would promise you it'd be just like the restaurant's and it just wasn't?? ;)

Wandering Chopsticks said...

Because of this post, I had such a craving for Japanese curry. So I cheated and made instant curry and poured it over pre-breaded chicken fillets. It was good though!

Dennis K. said...

Hi WC! I eat retort pack curries all the time! And you even went one step ahead with the chicken cutlets pre-breaded or not. :) I find that a small cup of hot miso soup is a nice side when having Japanese karee raisu too.

Roger. said...

Dewd. You rolled into my 'hood at Foo Foo Tei! Next time you're around I suggest Daikokuya. Much better than foofoo.

edjusted said...

Ah yes, the hour+ wait at FFT. As much as I enjoy their ramen, it's a 45+ min drive on top of the wait for me. But then, it's a lot easier than coming up from SD!

Dennis K. said...

Hi Roger! I forgot you're not in SD anymore.. Anyway I visited Daikokuya before my blogging days. Yes definitely one of the better ramenya's in So. Cal. Heard there's one in Monetery Park now! MP used to be my 'hood back in the days! :)

Hi Edjusted! Not to mention 15 bucks in gas but I'm a baller like that.. haha. No, I've been having many work related errands to L.A. on the weekends so I've been making the most of it..