Monday, May 31, 2010

Mitsuwa Umaimono Gurume Fair 2010 - Partial Coverage..

I wanted to cover three locations, the Costa Mesa, Torrance, and of course the San Diego Mitsuwa but alas my cold caught up to me on Sunday and I never made it to the SD party. The last day of the fair was yesterday and I'm only posting this tonight. So yet again you can never count on my blog for timely information.. :P

Well I sort of blame SD Mitsuwa for not offering a limited time ramen to entice me like Costa Mesa and Torrance did. SD Santouka had participated in the past with their Awase Aji and Toromi Shoyu but hasn't since in subsequent fairs. I know I'm just whining..

Well I'm not trying to kid myself that it comes down to smart business. I'm guessing Ippudo's motive in being at Mitsuwa Costa Mesa was sort of a teaser to promote their store opening somewhere in Los Angeles (or maybe it was OC). At least I've been hearing rumors and sorry I'm either too tired, lazy or can't remember where I first read to give proper credit. The proprietor Shigemi Kawahara himself was present (he's somewhere in the blurry background in the photo above..).

The oddest memory I have of Kawahara-san on television is when he b*tch slapped Debitto (David) Itoh (of former comedy group trio B21 Special) on a Japanese ramen reality show back in the 90's (very unfortunately couldn't find a YouTube clip). Of all the things to remember, haha. But I guess he didn't think the pseudo celebrity comedian was taking his ramen training serious enough and the meister didn't want his time wasted.. or something like it in the all so contrived "reality show" drama kind of way. I didn't follow through to the end but you can find a few Debitto chains throughout Tokyo so I guess the (ex)comedian passed the rigorous training. I have no clue how good or average the bowl is. Sorry for the tangency.

Ippudo's Shiromaru Motoaji Ramen was offered at $9.80. Not cheap for a small sampling but one can say a small styrofoam window of experience to the otherwise distant Japan or location in New York..

The pork bone tonkotsu soup expectedly had a very light pleasant creaminess. To be honest for me the first few sips weren't exactly mind blowing but very solid in flavor and served at a nice piping hotness. The chashu pork topping had great flavor where you can almost see a smoke ring type coloration around the outer. The kikurage wood ear mushrooms were large with a substantial crunch (wish there were more of it). The benishoga pickled ginger, fresh ground sesame seeds, a proprietary spicy miso paste and crushed fresh garlic that I picked up at the condiments counter would later slowly transform my small bowl into one subtle kaleidoscope of flavor to another.

So I thought it was really the totality of the bowl that really made it great. A (piping hot) solid soup, the yummy toppings, condiments, and of course the (*ehem) FIRM white thin noodles (the texture the closest thing I could think of to Chinese/Vietnamese Mi noodles but straight and without any egg flavor).

Was very fun if anything and I definitely look forward to an Ippudo opening here in Southern California. :)

On the way out I noticed the speedy hands of Takoyaki Meister (never knew such title exisited!) Mr. K. Sakaguchi of Kukuru. Didn't sample one thinking I'd get a chance when back in San Diego..

Next stop was Mitsuwa Torrance for Chibakiya's Gyutan (Beef Tongue) Shio Ramen..

I had to experience a bit longer line since I arrived closer to noon, but since each shop is serving up a single style the wait is fairly swift.

While Ippudo's is the creamy (ever so popular) tonkotsu style, I really loved the very delicate clear Shio here, I think mainly chicken based but unique with hints of a mineral-ey flavor of beef tongue seeping into the soup.

And is it just me or did the flavors remind me of this:

Negi-Tan-Shio (sliced beef tongue with finely chopped onions served at Japanese/Korean BBQ joints). Genius. And I might even be curious to try it with a squeeze of lemon next time.. ;)

Damn you horrible food court lighting! Anyway, I wondered if the beef tongue was marinated in milk since it tasted well, very milky. :) I know liver is often marinated in it. Anyway it was quite tender and tasted very good.

The Gyutan Onigiri rice ball was a $1.30. A bit high for what it was but still good. :)

So also were the Takoyaki stalls, chirashi sushi rice bentos, fish cakes, gourmet apple pies that I can remember. Was planning to cover them in SD.. I hope to be more timely (and feeling better) next year.. :) Hope everyone had a great Memorial Day weekend!

Mitsuwa Market (Torrance), 21515 Western Avenue, Torrance, CA 90501
Mitsuwa Market (Costa Mesa), 665 Paularino Avenue, Costa Mesa, CA 92626

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Two Meals - Saturday 05.22.2010 - Julian Pie Company And Point Loma Seafoods (yet again)

These are actually from last Saturday. Been meaning to share sooner but it's been a busy week for me. Hope you enjoy them. I think there was some sort of agenda the day but it was the weekend and the weather was so fantastic that we decided to well, just drive. A little South, a bit a ways East, we were in Jamul for a little. Then drove a bit North, more North.. Descanso.. Cuyamaca.. Made random stops to take random photos.. I had a lot of fun.

This exotic looking flower is actually a macro of this..

I now want to find out its name but it was about the size of a dandelion. I'm becoming curious about names of plants. Damn I'm Getting Old! ;)

Later witnessed the remnants of the huge fire we had not so long ago. Some areas were like scenes of Mordor (!), but with green vegetation growing around it maybe. Found this crazy looking tree stump that I had to ask to stop for.

There were actually a few similar scattered about. A burnt shell of a tree stump.

I'm wondering now if this was hollow to begin with and it simply scorched from the fire but it was a strange sight.

It was big enough for me to crawl in but eh, I felt too old for that as well so I stuck my hand in to take a photo of instead.

The weather was perfect and it turned out to be a really nice drive. I suggested continuing out to Julian since I haven't been in years. I wasn't the one driving either so.. :) But when we arrived..

There was a car show going on which was neat.

A mixed bag with one particularly nice vintage Ferrari but I think my favorite was this dragster-fied AMC Rambler.

Very Rad. The interior reminded me of the movie The Road Warrior.. :)

The group of BSA motorcycles that drove through were super cool too..

Lunch was at the Julian Pie Company. I don't think I have eaten anywhere else but if anyone has other suggestions please let me know. :)

I thought the choice wasn't going to be too hard since I had my heart set on an apple pie..

But there is the Original, the Dutch (very sweet), and I believe the Natural (no sugar added).

There are several toppings as well. The friend with a sweet tooth got it a la mode and I, reminiscing of one of my favorite Scorsese movie Taxi Driver asked for it with melted cheddar cheese. Young Robert De Niro rocks.

The pie was served warm but a thing I disapprove was the use of the microwave. I think at least a convection toaster oven would've been nice to preserve the flaky crust but then again I'm not the one behind the counter dealing with an impatient line of people..

The cheese used was cut thick and wasn't very salty and nice. The pie which I think I got "original" was still a bit too sweet for me so I may try the "natural" next time.

Julian Pie Company, 2225 Main St, Julian, CA 92036

There was a used bookstore (love them all) across the street. Checked them out, including the cookbooks section. Dude, do you remember this guy!?

I won't go into details but this book might become a rare collectors item someday, haha. Did not buy myself.. There were a bunch of strangely attractive 70's microwave cookbooks though (which I think the most famous by far would be this sadly titled one). The one below was actually published by JC Penny. Man the photos were so fantastic, totally from another time. Was tempted just for the pics but did not buy either.

In the evening when we returned I think my friend was in the mood for a beer by the docks so it was Point Loma Seafoods (yet again). Sometimes I feel I should save up these visits and do one longer dedicated post but eh whatever.. ;)

After that sweet pie I was planning to do something light but the soft-shell crab sandwich on the specials board was hard to resist. I think the blue crabs have just molted and are in season May/June.

This sandwich with two whole lightly battered and fried soft-shell crabs was super duper rich, especially at its center with the brain, roe and what not.

Because of the richness I think double the amount of coleslaw could've worked for this too but still all very good and fresh.
Clam chowder was extremely creamy and quite nice with chunks of clams, potatoes, onions.

Was a nice way to cap the day (yet again). But I'm going to have a cup of their ceviche all to myself one of these days.. ;)

Point Loma Seafoods, 2805 Emerson Street San Diego, CA 92106