Saturday, September 22, 2012

Mitsuwa Hokkaido Fair 2012 - Ezofukuro's Miso Ramen, Tokachi Butadon Ippin (Bento) And A Yubari Melon Soft Serve

Wow, the Yubari Melon soft serve near exploded in my mouth (in a safe and delicious manner) with intense perfectly ripe cantaloupe/melon flavors. I'd say well worth the three-bucks spent. It made me curiously wonder if the other Milk flavored ($2.50) would taste like an exploded dairy cow (in a safe and delicious manner). Available in both cone and plastic cup but I usually prefer my soft serve vessel edible. (Available at Costa Mesa and Torrance stores only.)

Got to check out the Mitsuwa Hokkaido Fair in Costa Mesa today. Usually while I'm out there I go ahead and also make the extra few miles up to Torrance but a combination of wanting to get back to SD by 2PM and that an earlier in the week post by Dream On @LA confirming my hunch of Kagetora's showcase Kotteri Shoyu and Kotteri Shio were both a Tonkotsu meant that it'd be a quick half day trip. (Kagetora's past year Miso Ramen here.)

I'm sure they were good, but I placed my priority on trying Ezofukuro's Miso Ramen. (Their Butter Shio Tsukemen can be read about here.) As I might've mentioned often on my blog, a truly great Miso Ramen is practically non-existent here where the only recommendation I could give in So. Cal. would be Mottainai's in Gardena (though I haven't been back in a while since this visit). But sampling a Miso from a native Hokkaido shop would be good bets.

I timed my drive well and arrived five-minutes before they were serving (11AM sharp). Were only one type of ramen offered and orders were taken briskly. Permanent Mitsuwa resident Santouka wasn't doing bad either and of course Miyabi-tei with their value oriented teishoku sets (particularly the Katsu Curry) were near flying off, carried away by a consistent stream of hungry rice-a-vores.

When the first orders started appearing I was happy to see that it was a medium caramel in color, good glistening of rendered fat on the surface and even speckles of suspended spices. The pale photos of both the banner and one shown online I don't think did it justice (suggesting as if it may be a milder Shiro Miso type). To cut the chase, this was a pretty darn good bowl and a solid representation of what a Miso Ramen should be and how our shops should try to emulate.

When it comes to Miso Ramen in my opinion hardly anything can compare to Sumire (except of course another Sumire produced shop). But what was here carried a decently punchy Maillard reacted miso flavor that was only salty enough to make you want to slurp more the chewy medium-fat curly Sapporo-style noodles (the bright yellow trait from some allowed fermentation).
I even appreciated how the vegetables were prepared, what looked a proper wok flamed with lard (I couldn't visually or audibly confirm) and the smaller cuts, especially the use of softer inner heart portion of hakusai Chinese cabbage was a nice touch.

The pork chashu was great too, with a thin dark flavor ring and decently fatty. Fyi, although the obvious origins of the word comes from the Chinese Char Siu, Japanese Chashu at least ones used in ramen is more often a simmered/stewed product, sometimes braised.
The menma bamboo shoots were anti-trendy in that it's not the large domino logs of recent hipness but instead a classic smaller well marinated variety.

The meal was a decent actual single serving portion so the +$10 price (after tax) didn't seem so steep today. But the infinite loop created by the savory soup and good noodles meant the inhalation process would be a quick one. The noodles were long gone when I still had a half bowl of soup left but I still managed to do a kanshoku. ごちそうさま。。。

Hunting down my Tokachi Pork Bowl I managed to take a few pics around the fair.

White Dorayaki with various sweet fillings...

A "Moo Moo" Dome Cheesecake, too cute!

Lots of premium seafood like the Tarabagani Crab and Ikura Bento. Uni and Ikura version below. I wish I had a bigger stomach! (And wallet?)

Various Fried Fish Cakes and Croquettes galore.

I'll probably pick some of these up at our Mitsuwa SD tomorrow...

Then around the corner I finally found the Tokachi Butadon Ippin stall. To be honest I was a little bummed to realize that their showcase was in bento form where last year they were grilling each of Tsukasa's beef tongue in front of the customers. Maybe things were different in Torrance?

Still I was told all 200 were sold out yesterday and these here were made just prior. So I purchased my attractive, albeit lukewarm container ($8.50 if I remember right) and headed back on over to the tables. It took me a while to get a seat again but the time helped me digest my ramen some.

The piggy shaped sauce container was adorable. I actually asked for an extra and also purchased a bottle of it sold to the side. I totally admit in always having been a sucker for cool food packaging.

The thinner cuts of pork loin here is grilled with charcoal, supposedly Binchotan but the grilling really gives the meats an extra tasty flavor. The bento came with some karashi takana (spicy pickled mustard greens) and the rice itself was fluffy, perfectly cooked.
The sauce was on the sweeter side but not the least cloying and reminded me of some yakiniku-dare. Not as oily and spicy though and I thought went well with the lighter pork slices.

Aside for maybe the smaller portion I was super happy that I had two piggy sauce containers and it was quite tasty otherwise. The Hokkaido fair is on until tomorrow. Until next time.

Pork squeegee!

Mitsuwa Market - Torrance, 21515 Western Avenue, Torrance, CA 90501
Mitsuwa Market - Costa Mesa, 665 Paularino Avenue, Costa Mesa, CA 92626
Mitsuwa Market - San Diego, 4240 Kearny Mesa Rd, San Diego, CA 92111


Junichi said...

I managed to hit up both Torrance and Costa Mesa yesterday. The crowds were much thinner than Saturday probably due somewhat to football. Kagetora was decent. Nothing to rave about. The shio was better than the shoyu. The pork was also in bento form at Torrance. It was delicious though.

I also hit up 2 micro breweries in Torrance. Strand Brewing Co off Crenshaw and Monkish Brewing Co off Western. Both highly recommended if you're into good beer.

Ezo Fukurou was a solid miso bowl. Still pales in comparison to Sumire though.

Dennis K. said...

Hey Junichi, thanks I could always use some brewery recs up there.. :) Ezofukuro's miso I'd be happy with for regular everyday consumption given our situation. Sumire as much as I love them would probably be a once in a while treat maybe? The portion on the pork bowl could've been more generous them teasing us all with that donburi picture! It was good tho. And I could use that soft serve right now.

zaxitor said...

I had lunch at the SD Mitsuwa on Sunday. The crab cake was excellent, but it looks like Torrance and Costa Mesa had a lot more going on. I would have loved to try that soft serve!

Junichi said...

Looks like the next fair is already in the works.

Dennis K. said...

Hi zaxitor, yeah I think the smaller size of Mitsuwa SD's food court area has partly something to do with it, but it has been a while since we had a ramen showcase here other than santouka's limited time offerings. Bummer. The yubari melon soft serve seemed reserved on the dairy content and was more like a sherbet actually. Too bad they didn't serve it here or I would've gone the next day..

Hi Junichi, yeah I saw that last but no detail info yet. I vote for sumire!