Well, made it to both Costa Mesa and Torrance again today for another one of Mitsuwa's events, this time the Fall Umaimono Gurume Fair. I guess when you do as many as Mitsuwa does in a year (including all the Anniversary sales) you're bound to run into a few that are quiet as I felt it was this time in terms of number of stalls and foods offered. In fact I dropped by our San Diego store for lunch yesterday and it didn't seem like a whole lot was going on except for the korokke (croquettes) and few other merchandises.
My usual small trek out
to the OC area is because the larger stores there have a bit more
happening, but for the most part is actually to sample the limited time
showcased ramen. Although I visited Costa Mesa last on the way back down,
will start with Tanaka Sobaten. The event's last day is tomorrow.
It was hard for me to gather much information on Tanaka Sobaten,
but it seems they're actually a chain from Tokyo that offers a few versions of Kitakata Ramen as well as a claimed Yamagata spicy miso.
is a significant regional style in Japanese ramen alongside the largely
popularized trio of Sapporo Miso, Hakata Tonkotsu and Tokyo Shoyu. As I've
never had a Kitakata style you can say I was really looking forward in
trying a bowl, and at least from online Japanese reviews and accounts,
Tanaka Sobaten seemed pretty favorable to its authenticity.
When one hears the word "Tonkotsu,"
usually the famous creamy opaque white Kyushu ramen is associated with,
but since the word simply means "pork bones" any stock made using is
technically a tonkotsu-kei (as is Okinawa Soba, though chicken is also often used with when making). Kitakata ramen I hear is mainly of this pork bones but also niboshi.
Further the term Chuka Soba ("Chinese style soba") can mean different things
depending where you are in Japan. More commonly describes an old
school Shoyu Ramen but say, in Wakayama, it could mean a more distinctive Tonkotsu-Shoyu.
the case of Tanaka Sobaten, it seems to refer to a Shio (salt flavor). I
couldn't detect much if any soy sauce flavoring, though the clear,
faintly colored soup would've been a visual giveaway. Pretty
much looked like what Keizo of Go Ramen! had on this post, minus a few extra chashu.
The noodles were a softer chewy and hira-chubuto-chijire. That's.. flatter, medium thick and with a crinkly wave.
The strangest thing was how much I felt everything reminded me of
Okinawa Soba (only lacking a stronger bonito flavor, some benishoga
ginger and slice of kamaboko fishcake).
There was though a good shoyu flavoring coming from the intensely dark menma bamboo shoots, similar to ones I came across on Tsujita's Edo Soba
with only other soy sauce notes from the leaner meaty pork chashu which
was quite nice. On the salty side but with lots of flavor.
fact I could see some may think the entire bowl was a little salty, but
I enjoyed it if not the flavor profile a little tame for an event showcase
maybe. Like Ramen Iroha's Toyama Black,
it made me crave a bowl of rice in a good way. Compared to Nakamuraya's refined Shio, this would be more rustic and personally wouldn't have
minded the niboshi (dried sardines) to have been played out more prominently. Did kinda wish I started
the day with this bowl.
I'm jumping around but I grabbed a Gyutan (beef tongue) Bento from the Tsukasa
stall in Mitsuwa Torrance as well as a Gyutan Stew. They were grilled
in front of you and the bentos still warm so I got tempted. Having them
tonight as a late dinner. Btw it was mentioned that Gyutan Tsukasa will
be opening a shop in the food court of Mitsuwa Costa Mesa Spring of
things that bring a smile to my face is a large mound of deep fried
Korokke. I'll probably stop by our SD branch tomorrow for a few of these
like I usually do.
Things I sampled. A Matcha green tea cold soba...
Konjac balls... Why not? And healthy for me.
And your usual medley of premium sushi. One day I'll grab one of these while waiting for my ramen...
In Torrance was Sendai Takejiro. A shop hailing from Sendai, Miyagi prefecture where their miso is very well known.
described in Mitsuwa's preview that they would be serving a milder Miso
Ramen. I'm typically not a huge fan of mild tempered miso ramen but was
pretty curious in trying a bowl from this city. At 11AM opening time
there was already a longer line and it remained the way the duration I
described was a mellower miso but still something that'd easily blow
out of the water what's served in most shops in town. I can tell a
quality miso was used and I witnessed the soup heated with a wok giving
way to the frothy and full bright miso flavors, though missing were the more maillard reacted notes compared to a Sapporo style like Ezofukuro's miso sampled recently.
The noodles I felt were fairly typical and didn't shine here where it being slightlly soft in my bowl you could say didn't help also. But the chashu was very decent, the kind I often give my personal description as tectonic, where leaner meaty pieces are connected with tender fatty veins. The
menma were very lightly marinated, giving way to a more springy
crunch with natural bamboo shoot flavors. Other toppings were kikurage wood ear mushrooms, beansprouts and a naruto fish cake slice.
I'd be the first to say that not all Miso Ramen need to be as intense as a bowl from Sumire (as awesome as they are), and here we have a quality, albeit mellow miso that I can see myself having everyday. Still if this shop is related to this Menya Takejiro (which I couldn't confirm), I felt for the fair one of their tsukemens would've given a bigger impact imho. As always looking forward to Mitsuwa's next event. I'm stuffed! ぷっふぁ〜 食った！
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