Sunday, June 3, 2012

Sunday Sharing - Ten-don Specialist Kaneko Hannosuke In Mitsuwa SM, And Another Tasty Food Fair

I can't seem to get my head around a proper organized post these days. Sharing a few things I happen to find interesting and more random food related topics sprinkled about.

A treat for L.A. folks, Kaneko Hannosuke is opening a store in the food court of Mitsuwa Santa Monica (Mar Vista). It seems Hannosuke doesn't have any outlets other than their main location in Nihonbashi (where people always report the long lines) so this first branch in the U.S. is exciting news. ( link info here.) [Update: My first impression visits can be found here.]

Ten-don (tempura rice bowl) specialist Hannosuke serves a specific Edomae-fu ("Old Tokyo" style) where the pleasant nutty aroma of sesame oil used for the fry is complemented with a further appetite stimulating robust sauce, both hallmarks of this type. Can't wait to try as it's literally been over twenty years for me since I've had one that could be called such. The Edokko fonded flavors would be notably bolder than the likes of subtle Kansai tastes and at least for Ten-don, the version I would most definitely prefer. Hard to come by outside Tokyo until now so it's really great.


Typical toppings are some combination of Anago (sea eel), scallop, Kisu (type of Japanese Whiting), shrimp and maybe squid for seafood, while shishito peppers, sheet Nori and even Hanjyuku soft boiled yolkalicious eggs are also a common sight as tempura at Hannosuke. Could only guess what the menu plan would be here but if they play up true to the original shop's concept the meal should also be decently affordable on top. Can't see them on opening day as it's a Monday (June 11th) but the first 100 customers gets a free meal on the house.

That week will be then capped starting the Thursday (14th, ending Sunday the 17th) with another Umaimono Gurume Fair (often abbreviated to "MUGF" on this blog). The highlight usually for me are the guest Ramen shops showcasing their limited number bowls and I'm excited that there will be another two set for this celebration.

I've yet to visit the newish brick and mortar Nidaime Tsujita off Sawtelle in West L.A., but they'll be serving a Tokyo-style Shoyu which they're calling "Edo Soba" with signature gyokai accentuated broth (the marine - in this case Bonito and Niboshi) blended with Pork/Chicken/Veggies that I can't seem to get enough of. For the meat lovers there will be a Niku Soba with triple extra slices of their Chashu pork (will cost $14.50 tho). Tsujita is really known more for their Tsukemen ("dip ramen") which is exceptionally delicious in its own right, but truth be told I'm more a Ramen fan and feel I always will be. Tsujita will be at the Costa Mesa branch.

A sampling of a truly rewarding Miso-centric ramen bowl is harder to come by even more so, so I'm also looking forward to try Ichimonji, a shop from Hakodate (as was Kitahama Shoten a year ago MUGF). Will be at the Torrance locale the same days. Although Ichimonji will be offering a lovely looking Tonkotsu-Shoyu, my rec would definitely be the Tonkotsu-Miso, the shop being from Hokkaido. Appetite permit I'd love to try them both though, haha.

Sans the special ramen visitors, our San Diego store will be celebrating with some delicacies as well so do check them out. I usually end up there after letting the noodles have time to settle in my belly anyway, my drive back down while listening to A Prairie Home Companion on NPR. Oh the good times.

Anyhow, there this week scored $0.99 bags of Shishito, Piiman and Eringi mushrooms. Will probably be making more Naporitans throughout the week. I've been meaning to share a gateway version for potential first time Naporitan eaters where the ketchup is cut with a little Demi Glace (super tasty). Another version I've been wanting to experiment (with some precaution) is one using Heinz Chili Sauce (the one used for shrimp and stuff...). It'll surely give it an extra tang but curious if the citrusy addition would be in a good way or not.

Then there is the Banana Ketchup. Have you heard? Also called Banana Sauce, it's a condiment created in the Philippines when there was a shortage of Tomatoes in WWII. If the experiment happens to not go well I wouldn't be down a lot at $0.69 a bottle. But I'm here to try and prove my also out of closet avid Naporitan fan hairstylist wrong, haha. There's something in me that says I gotta try it once, and I'm not afraid of opening up a list of never ending doors, my blog being labeled a useless Naporitan info haven be damned. ;)

Like how I recently found that there is a Japanese sub-sub-culture / genre (Aka - stuff most my Japanese friends don't even know about...) of cheap fast food spaghetti called the RomeSpa (ロメスパ - pronounced ro-me-su-pa). Check out these soulful eats from Japone (ジャポネ) in Ginza, said to be the birthplace of the highly altered Japanese pasta category.


My Japanese-to-English translating battery is about depleted this Sunday evening to try to explain the background in detail (with roots to the casual standing Tachigui Soba eateries), but the three golden RomeSpa rules according to one expert are:

1) Much like most Naporitans (and acute disapproval from Italians), the spaghetti noodles are precooked ahead in large quantities. The actual meal preparation is then more a high heat toss-searing style (like Yakisoba). This is mostly due to the fast paced speed at which would be RomeSpa eaters expect their meals to be served at.

2) The spaghetti used are thick (sometimes called Spaghettoni or Vermicellini). Aside from intangible nostalgic value with RomeSpa hounds, the use of this thicker spaghetti at least to me seem to be important with not only the filling aspect as a budget conscious meal but also to give some decent texture. Not quite reaching actual al dente level, but from experience the high heat searing giving much life back to them.

3) Availability of extra large portions. There is no doubt that this is furious carbo-loading for the urban working class set. Seasoning also tends to be on the stronger side.

Other well known (and not so known) RomeSpa eateries around the Tokyo area are:

Spaghetti no Pancho (スパゲッティーのパンチョ).
Elm (エルム - or Erumu).
Little Koiwai (リトル小岩井).
RomeSpa King (ロメスパキング - reviewed by Eatnapo-san).
Tokyo Spaghetchi (東京スパゲッチ)
RomeSpa Balboa (ロメスパバルボア)
Giant Gattsuri Spa (GIANTガッツリスパ)

Well that's all I have for tonight. The first image btw is a carton of eggs I found during one of my trips to Nashville. It was so neat I almost wished I could take it with me on the plane home (and yes during my spare time on any trip I visit the local grocers and browse the isles for fun). I'm slowly discovering I have some fascination documenting egg cartons I guess. Maybe one day I'll share the full photo collection. Until then, thanks again for visiting!


K and S said...

love these random posts!

caninecologne said...

yay for the banana ketchup mention!

there is also 'jufran' and 'mafran' brand of the banana ketchup.

my mom likes to use it as a marinade, along with soy sauce and garlic (for chicken skewers). turns the meat a nice red color.

there is also a 'spicy' version which u can get @ seafood city.

let us know know your naporitan comes out using this condiment!

Minxi said...

how does the Gourmet Fair work? do they just set up booths in the store? thanks for sharing!!

Dennis K. said...

Thanks for the compliment as always Kat! Glad somebody enjoys them... ;)

Hi CC! I was at Thuan Phat in LV and almost got the Jufran brand. They had the spicy version there too but thought I should stick to basics for the first go. Yeah I'll let you know how it goes!

Hi Minxi! Thanks for stopping by and commenting. Yes they usually have small booths setup inside the store. But our SD branch doesn't have as much space as the Costa Mesa or Torrance stores so they're usually a lot smaller here. If you miss this one no big deal, they have a few of them spread out the year. I usually enjoy the Fall one the most from experience.

Lunchburb said...

I really like banana sauce - especially the hot version - but I've never known quite what to do with it.

I looked on line once for some recipes and found one for "Filipino Spaghetti", which included hot dogs, sugar and lots of banana sauce (in addition to the usual spaghetti stuff). It didn't really sound too good, so I never tried it. (

While I doubt that this is what they do with it in the Philipines, I sometimes have it on toast for breakfast. It's actually pretty good.

Cathy Doe said...

I got a bottle of UFC brand hot & spicy banana sauce, with the idea of it being somehow similar to chamoy and mixing it with mango slush. The label says it is an 'excellent source of Vitamin B6'.
Um, not quite like a Chamango, however it is good on eggs and lightly mixed with cucumber, jicama and oranges, like a pico de gallo.

Cathy Doe said...

Oh. I like randomposts better-short attention span and all. You could make a really cool poster of all those egg carton photos.

Dennis K. said...

Hi LB, I'll have to try the toast thing! I heard it's used a lot for dipping banana chips, but I never tried. I had Filipino Spaghetti once but it was at Jollibee. Edged too sweet for me (was more so than chef boyardee products), the hot dogs were the best part. I was fascinated that in concept it sounded like the Japanese Naporitan but turned out to be a very different animal.

Hi Cathy! The poster sounds like a good idea, ha. Other of my random photo collections are boxed breakfast sausages brands, and processed white bread. They're all so neat.

Violet Séverine said...

I am a serious Jufran (spicy) fan. I can't get enough of the stuff. I love to mix it with a little rice wine vinegar and sesame oil for dipping my lumpia. Yum. ;)

Cathy Doe said...

Um- eggs, bread and breakfast sausages-each could make a great poster and all together- breakfast! You could put a photo of a toaster in the middle of the breads so there could be no mistake. I'd love to do that for the kitchen.

Today, I went to Jolibee (inside Seafood City) and got a dipping side of icy cold weirdly textured 'banana ketchup' and it *was* chamoy-ish.