Sunday, May 27, 2012

Sunday Random Ramblings - Better Late Than Never Edition

Hope everyone enjoyed the great weather. I was able to get out some but most of the day was spent doing house chores indoors. Was actually relaxing in its own way and I even managed to cobble together a post during the few many breaks I took. I apologize for the length, but if you're a regular reader you might be used to these by now... Another one of my Random Ramblings mostly of things pertaining to food. Sort of a better-late-than-never Memorial Day Weekend Edition.

First things first... Akkkk(!), I have to apologize for saying on last week's post that Mitsuwa's Anniversary Sale was only on until that Sunday. Would be that it was up again the following Fri/Sat/Sun (25th~27th). By chance was there earlier today and was surprised to see the crowd.

Bought a bowl at Utsuwa no Yakata inside that I was eyeing last. I liked its classy pattern and red lip, was also 20% off because of the sale. Purchased two for 8-bucks. Score, and can't wait to use it. Btw, they're now situated at a smaller nook opposite to where they were. I'm glad to know they just downsized and are sticking around. The original spot at the moment is unoccupied and I haven't heard anything who or what will take the space.

They had an awesome one-dollar Hosomaki (the thinner sushi roll) thing happening. Must've been around ten or more different fillings to choose from. I purchased four. One each of Kanpyo (a favorite sweet pickled Japanese Gourd), Tamago (Japanese omelet), Negi Toro (chopped fatty tuna belly with scallions), and spicy tuna. Wished I could've reported all this yesterday.

Was tempted to give Santouka's Shrimp Kimchi Ramen another round but was pressed on time and had to leave. I hope I didn't sound like an a** last. I am one of their biggest fans and their Asahikawa Tonkotsu here is a fairly fool proof experience day in day out. Can imagine it being tricky to come up with something new that suits their particular kitchen setup and price point. I seriously have to share my flavor change up condiments stash very soon (hint: Aonori is one of them and tops the list).

Visited Ramen Yakyudori a few times over the last six months or so. When there I always order their Tokyo Style brothy amber Shoyu Ramen so can only speak for that. Have been asking for a slab of butter to hedge my umami bets since they could be inconsistent with. This day was pretty good and could've done without as the soup was subtle but satisfying in flavor. Their pork Chashu is usually quite decent as well with (what I call) tectonic contrast of leaner with soft bands of fatty. The softer firm Hanjyuku flavored Aji-Tama egg's inconsistencies seem to also be long gone and are always perfectly done with the right amount of marinade flavor. As I mentioned on my UnderBelly post, I tend to prefer these than ones that are out right runny (especially if they seem to be unseasoned as they are at UB).

My most recent try was about a week ago and the experience unfortunately not exactly the same (Instagram photo below). The first dinner visit in a long time. Despite the similar looks, the Shoyu Ramen broth was much too light and the butter helped out to cope the blandness. Egg was still great. I didn't order extra Chashu because I'd be having a couple Yakitori skewers.

Next time I'm planning to keep a few sticks of these in my messenger bag and spike my bowl out of curiosity. Some Niboshi / Iriko Dashi. (Japanese stock made from dried baby sardines.) Of course can't beat the real stuff but one's gotta do what one's gotta do.

It's been working great in my bowls of Soba at home and should do the same trick to give that clear shoyu broth the edge it desperately needs (for my tastes). As much as I love the flavor of Niboshi stock though, it seems many Americans aren't too keen to it. In fact I was chatting with a random older Japanese lady at Nijiya not too long ago talking about Niboshi Vs. Iriko (which I later learned to be the same thing, the name only depending on which area of Japan you are in - Kanto vs. Kansai), but I remember her mentioning how her American husband can handle Katsuo bonito broth but never Niboshi.

Yakitori grilling starts at 5:30PM if I remember right. I forgot to take a pic of my Negima, but along with the Tsukune, they were the same as I remembered when Yakyudori was in Hillcrest. Good quality chicken flavors with an even char from clean burning binchotan. To me the slow realization that maybe RY in concept had always been a Yakitori-ya that happened to serve Ramen and not the other way around is bumming. I manage to stay in denial, but they do remain the better ramen option in SD (for the flavors they serve) and I'll take what I can get within relative practical driving distance. Just another friendly reminder though not to judge them to Santouka. Consomme with the likes of Cream of Broccoli maybe.

Still need to check out Gaijin Noodle House in downtown but speaking of variety of ramen, I dug up a photo of one from Daikokuya back in November last year. This was from their main Little Tokyo location. It's probably been well over four or five years since I was last (which was probably my first). I only had enough cash on me to have their basic bowl of Daikoku Ramen ($8.50). I was hungry and wanted to pair it with an order of their Japanese Gyozas but oh well.

Often mistakenly referred to as Hakata-style (a specific type of Tonkotsu), Daikokuya's is far from and actually serves an original broth that is technically a Tonkotsu-Shoyu. Mainly the laborsome pork bone tonkotsu, but with additional seasoning of house Shoyu Dare (or Soy Sauce elixir if you will). The blend pendulum still leans a majority toward creamy tonkotsu with only hints of shoyu - the mellowness helping to distinguish it further from say the more blunt mallet style Yokohama Ie-kei.

The white speckle floating on top is Seabura fatback (sometimes called back fat) since I ordered it "Kotteri" (extra rich). Under the opaqueness there's a whole Hanjyuku egg along with a couple slices of good flavored pork chashu and some chunky thick cut Menma (marinated bamboo shoot). The green onions aren't simply a garnish but becomes another key component to the flavor as you make headway into the bowl. Despite its brute looks, a fairly nuanced finish with decent resilient noodles to match. I've been curious to try their other locations as I could count the number of times I was in the area and passed because of the lines and wait time.

That day it seems I then dropped in Anzen Hardware a few doors down. They carry beautiful professional Japanese chef's knives here but it's always fun to have a looksy to see what other random things I can find.

This melon shaped rice mould was nostalgically cool but happened to be overpriced. You can often find them in 100-Yen (dollar) shops like Daiso. So ended up just browsing as I usually do but was a great way help my belly adjust to my lunch. Btw, I had a Thanksgiving dinner to attend a few hours later, haha!

Jumping to something I loosely call home cooking which I haven't done a lot this month. At least ones I wouldn't mind taking a photo of and sharing. Showing my Nth Spaghetti Naporitan. A Japonized pasta dish of pan/wok-fried spaghetti, flavored mainly with some ketchup and pad of butter. I think my best attempt at explaining is on the Gyoniku Sausage post, though the fish sausage part may throw some people further off.

Used something much more tasty here. Berkshire Arabiki Pork Wieners and Eringi mushrooms. Also Piiman bell peppers and onions. Simple is best when it comes to Naporitans though I admit going overboard with the quantity as it is definitely gudakusan (具だくさん) this day.
I've been wanting to share an article in an online magazine called Nipponia that goes over the Naporitan. First I'm glad they used the more hard pan-fried style for the cover shot, the version I prefer than the soggy type. There aren't many things I disagree with the writing and it's a great read. The Nipponia series seem to have ended in 2008 but back issues are linked here, and there are great foodie reads in each of them in the Bon Appetite! section. Check it out.

They happen to have one on Himono as well. A variety of sort of semi-preserved, semi-dried fish. I read conflicting articles of whether they are salted or not (I always thought they weren't and the salt flavor came naturally).

Shown is an Aji (Horse Mackerel), but I've had Sanma (Pacific Saury) in the past as well. The iconic butterflied version in Himono called Hiraki (so this is Aji Hiraki, or Aji no Hiraki). I've been taught you should always cook Himono flesh side down first but I'm just showing here. The sun drying and process of evaporating the fish's moisture naturally concentrates its umami properties. Classically seen in Japanese breakfasts maybe, but I've been finding its uses much more versatile than I had first thought. Been playing around with a rather rare version Wafu Pasta which I'll share eventually, and you can cook it together with rice and enjoy as a Takikomi Gohan, bones and all. (Haven't tried that yet.)

Above a lunch meal I had at Izakaya Sakura relatively recently. Nikomi Hamburg. A ゴロゴロ chunkier style simmered in a rich sweeter tomato sauce. As far as I can tell my last official "Lunching @" post here was in early 2011. You can find the most updated list of links of the dishes I tried there. (Should warn my writing may be choppy, especially on earlier posts. I'm too afraid to go back and read them in fact.)
Long overdue for an update but I just can't seem to find the time, or more, it just gets drowned with a wave of other higher posting priorities. Haven't heard on the progress of the new Japanese/Italian/Pasta restaurant they're opening in the same mall. By the looks it seems it may be taking a little longer. I have a few Japanese friends that are really looking forward to it including myself. I'm a fan of their meat sauce spaghetti (though I think may be a buck or two too pricey). Meaty and subtly sweet like how I grew up with. Their sea urchin pasta had always been popular amongst regulars as well, so I'm curious to see the menu that they'll be coming up with. Would be nice if they did a true thick Meat-Pesto-like Bolognese which is pretty much non-existent in Italian American places. (They can call it Bolognese, but it never ain't.)

Throwing in a Menchi Katsu Curry below that they were nice enough to make for me despite being off menu. Its coupling with miso soup and how well it goes with has always put a grin on my face.

I also recently had a fantastic Galbi lunch at Walmido. Price, quality and flavor were all unmatched with neighboring Convoy Tofu House and even Chon Ju Jip (my humble opinion, and I also haven't been back to CJJ in a while to fairly compare).

But man were these good. Thick cut, tender, only lightly sweet and with right amount of guilty fatty areas. What was almost equally great were their Banchan. I was almost full before the main came.

And I always loved their Gyeran Jimm. A note here that you most probably won't get the free Banchan unless you order something from their Korean menu. I also have another Hwe Dup Bap documented from here but I'm saving that for my next celebration of a week of salads. Yes, the Salabration.

Better end it here tonight as it's getting late. Had many more one off photos but I'll have to save them for another rambling session. As always, thanks for stopping by!

1 comment:

K and S said...

I enjoy these random ramblings :)