Sunday, May 9, 2010

Two Meals - Wednesday 05.5.2010 - Ramen Yakyudori (Again) And Tajima (Again)

Food services are always at a flux and organic in nature. As much as they strive for consistency, a waiter could be having a bad day, or the chef for that matter. The delivery of produce not quite as par as the last, etc, etc, etc... So I've been enjoying my more timely 'Two Meals' series these days because I think I feel more free to express my ecstatic-ness or criticism knowing that what I'm writing is strictly my recollection of the meal served to me that particular day. If I want to emphasize anything it would be this at the moment type of sharing.

Of the two restaurants, one (Ramen Yakyudori) is a relative new comer, still adjusting their menu and getting situated while the other (Original Tajima) has been around forever but seems to have had some kind of management change. I don't know, but more on that later. And yes, I totally forgot it was Cinco de Mayo!

Anyway my Shoyu Ramen at Ramen Yakyudori for lunch this day was very delicate and good as usual but also seemed to have a slightly more porkiness to the broth. Whether this tweak was intentional or not aside I really enjoyed it. :)

Especially since I always felt as nice as the clear Tokyo-style shoyu broth have been I thought it could use some kind of edge (or personality). Personally a pronounced dried fish stock flavor would make me extremely happy but I'm honestly not so sure if that style will fly as a mainstream Shoyu bowl here in San Diego or Southern California for that matter. So maybe the more Wa-Fu version can be saved as an occasional special while working on that pork bone Tonkotsu (that they've been publicizing for a while now but has yet to be seen) would be the definite safe bet.

Since the new menu doesn't list the Chashu Ramen anymore I simply ask for extra pork. I also ask for it to be served on the ramen and not on the side (this is sort of key). The point, cold pork is not as tasty as warm pork, especially when it's fatty, which makes me realize they will have an amazing potential of serving up some lovely thick-cut grilled stuff like at Afuri when the grilling of yakitori starts. Recent news is they seem nowhere near ready although they have started serving beer. I think they are still searching for full-time chefs.

My first experience of their chicken Karaage was extremely lean and only so-so but I've noticed during visits that the ones of a lunching fellow next to me looked different - skin intact, so took mental note. Remembered to try it again today. These were great moist Karaage and the hot crispy outer had a nice seasoning. The soy sauce and mayo dip provided was new.

In the cute basket I even found a rogue piece of fried chicken skin all by itself. Yumm! And the pieces of sweet raw cabbage below were great to complement as well.

My typical final view of my ramen as I lift the bowl right up to my face.... (Usually not along with my camera but, haha.)

And the final final view.... ;)

Past visits on RY in reverse chronological order, here, here and here.

Ramen Yakyudori, 4898 Convoy St., Suite 101, San Diego, CA 92111

Oh where do I start with my (original) Tajima. Back in 2000 when I first moved down to SD lunch was usually a coin toss between it and Sakura. In fact my very first inaugural post on my blog was on how-to fold a chopstick rest that had taken place there. I've shared the meals I had at Tajima-2 (aka Izakaya Tajima) in the past (another here) but somehow doing a full post on Tajima-1 had taken an unfortunate sideline in interest and priority (with a huge pile of documented photos collecting digital dust).

So as I was straddling to finally compose something together, my last couple of lunch visits to try out their ramen again was unfortunately a bit disappointing. Consistently salty egg and meat toppings and the soup a strange "I don't quite remember Tajima's ramen this way" synthetic flavor that for me gave it an identity crisis. While Tajima's ramen never quite hit my personal nostalgia sweet spot I always enjoyed the scratch made fresh flavor it had.

So for dinner this night I played it safe and had the Chicken Katsu-don. Actually I've been craving Katsu-don for a while and this did hit the spot quite well. I like that they give you the yellow sweet pickled daikon takuan here.

The miso soup though was a bit off. It seemed to have some glistening beads of oils where while if were ramen you can say normal, but for miso soup not such a great thing IMHO. The hiyayakko cold tofu appetizer's presentation was also severely lacking. (Shown post soy sauce drizzle.)

Didn't affect the flavor too much but this is what it used to look like back in the day..

Finally my friend's Hamburg Steak came (extremely late). When the waitress poured the sauce the cast iron plate was silent and didn't sizzle. According to the friend the food was lukewarm so it had basically sat the whole time.

My experience at the second location have been much better. We're definitely going to hit them up next time. And who knows, things may change again but with so many memories at the original Tajima, you can say the location will always have a special fuzzy spot in my heart, so I do hope.

Tajima Japanese Restaurant, 4681 Convoy Street, San Diego, CA 92111

So now I need to go fix some dead links from when I used to store the photos for my blog at GeoCities (didn't know about Picasa back then). Did you know Yahoo decided to pull the plug on GeoCities last October!!?? Oh how fun I don't know how much data I lost... :(


Sawyer said...

lol geocities? i don't even remember the last time i heard that word being uttered. lol that was a funny (not for your friend) writeup about the iron and the sizzle. i used to love tajima's miso ramen...and when it started opening up late nights as this was a god send for midnight munchies in sd. let me know if you ever plan to come up and try out foo foo tei. i think it's a decent joint and i can learn a thing or two from you because i don't know much about ramen...or food in general. a very good writeup, but i wouldn't expect any less from you. :thumbsup:

Dennis K. said...

Hi Sawyer! Ah I'm far from really knowing what I'm talking about. I also try to use phrase like ..for me.. ..personally.. ..I felt.. ..this day.. as much as possible but somehow when your thoughts goes up online written it somehow tends to come across like you're preaching..?? Funny phenomenon.
Anyway thanks for the offer! As much as I enjoyed Foo Foo I'm not sure I'd want to wait 40mins either.. ;)
Finding good eats in Davis? Man I'm itching for another road trip soon.