Sunday, March 24, 2013

Ramen Hayatemaru - Quick Visit, Another Limited Time Santouka, Mister Donut Mugs And Other Sunday Ramblings

Sharing one of my longer posts today. Will try to go through them quickly!
Received another gift from friends returning from the land of Takoyaki and Matcha Ice. The updated Mister Donut coffee mug.(!) I think they come in several colors but it's the one shown on the right, while my first purchased in early 2000 original Mister Donut mug and matching saucer is to its left.

Never thought myself as a "mug collector" but I seemed to have acquired a few over the years. Bobcat Bite, White Castle, Steak 'N Shake, The Waffle House, I threw in our Perry's Cafe in the back although I feel the advertisements on it make it cheesy. Not shown is one from MOS Burger (that I keep at work), The Huddle (another post here) and Ricky's (got it cause I liked the retro caricature).

Below my high-carb breakfast had this morning. Korroke (potato croquette), Pork Sausage and Kinpira rolls. Were purchased yesterday and reheated in the toaster oven.

It seems all but our Mitsuwa has an in-store bakery (Hamadaya). These were from the Costa Mesa location and pretty decent, all priced under $2. The Kinpira Roll is filled with Gobo burdock root and carrots seasoned a savory-sweet.

Was there also a couple weekends back to see if Gyutan Tsukasa was finally open. It wasn't but seemed ready to be operational any time soon. The flyers say "Coming in Spring" so maybe beginning of April? [Update: Confirmed opening will be April 1st.]

It was also the tail end of the store's Anniversary Sale. Almost every food stall seemed to have a special. I actually wasn't in the mood for ramen for once but I noticed their Santouka was serving a Kaisen-fu Yasai Ramen ($8.99). Ended up ordering one for the sake of my quirky habit of documenting their limited time offerings. :P

This 'seafood and vegetable ramen' was basically their take on a Nagasaki Champon. I could hear wokking sounds from the kitchen so it seemed to be made as it should. The generous sprinkle of fine ground pepper on top is my doing.

Portion was quite big, in fact served in a large non-Santouka wide-lipped bowl. Cabbage, bean sprouts, onions, bamboo shoots, wood ear mushrooms... where proteins were your naruto fish cake, small bits of octopus and pork baraniku. In the end was nothing too special but the price was right for someone with a Champon hankering I suppose. I'm still puzzled why they don't give out renge spoons here. Brian of the blog Ramen Adventures had been posting on Champons from his trip to Nagasaki. Check them out!

Different weekend I finally visited Ramen Hayatemaru in Torrance. They claim to serve a tonkotsu based Hokkaido style ramen. (Ramen Hayatemaru menu here.) Even the Jonathan Gold can get confused sometimes (he mistakenly refers to Santouka in a Kyushu context in the linked article) but not all white tonkotsu ramen hails from Kyushu. Still I'll have to check out Hayatemaru's Asahikawa or Hakodate influence next time since I went for the Shoyu Tsukemen the visit ($9.50).

Seated and waiting, what bothered me a little was a scent from the kitchen of what seemed to be scorched shoyu.(?) Curious because I don't think the place does any kogashi shoyu type of ramen whatsoever. When the tsukemen finally came the good size mound of dried fish powder gyo-fun was a nice welcoming change. After taking a small sip of the dip I immediately poured the entire contents in.

For me the gyo-fun was almost necessary to make the tonkotsu-kei dip any interesting. It turned out to be (for me) salty in a not very interesting one-dimensional way. No mild sweetness in the back, or acidity to balance, but what finally did me in was the unpleasantly bitter shoyu flavor.
Noodles were nice and thick with what seemed like flecks of whole wheat kneaded within. Eggs were unfortunately hard-boiled but some shops just choose to roll that way. Pork chashu was decent. Sadly I thought the presentation was the most impressive part of the dish. :(

The Japanese gyozas ($2.90) were pretty good though. A crispy one-sided, with a garlic chive centered fresh handmade taste. Not a bad deal for the price either. Since I always have room for curry (in Japan the term called "betsu bara" or the ability of having a separate stomach for certain foods) I also had the mini-curry plate ($2.90). Was a style with some ground meats and pretty satisfying, on par or having a slight edge over Yamadaya maybe (though I did miss having a side of the sweet Fukushinzuke pickles here).

I'm hoping I'll like their ramen better although I don't really try to go out of my way for a tonkotsu these days. There's also a Miso Tsukemen, maybe what I should've gotten?

Ramen Hayatemaru, 1644 W Carson St, Torrance, CA 90501

Yesterday I was in the Santa Monica area to check out books at Hennessey & Ingalls. Too bad we don't have anything like it here in SD, but I always find the trip worthwhile.

Lunch was at Hannosuke again in the Mitsuwa Santa Monica food court. I noticed the menu had expanded quite a bit from my last visits. When first opened there were basically only two main tempura donburi offerings, the Original and the fancier Edomae Ten-don. Now you can get the tempura as a plate with rice on the side. Also chicken tempura and veggie-only options have been added, as well as being able to add any toppings by the piece.(!) I'm actually pretty stoked about the last part.

Below my Original Ten-don ($8.95, which I feel is the better deal) with additional nori tempura that only cost me $0.50 for the extra two pieces. All the tempura were nice and hot this time, the Edomae characteristic of nutty sesame oil aroma and robust flavoring very appetite stimulating (食欲をそそる).

They even finally brought over their special shichimi. I found it ground finer with a rounded blend of spices and heat that went well with.

Gotta love that oozey tempurafied spring poached egg! While my feelings of Hannosuke were on the neutral side during my last post they've definitely managed to come back around for me the visit and is becoming that (relatively) affordable and tasty Edomae-style ten-don shop that I was hoping for. Yay.

Hannosuke (in food court Mitsuwa Santa Monica), 3760 S. Centinela Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90066

A quick Lunch at El Pescador Fish Market in La Jolla last week. I still think the sashimi plates are a good deal at ~$11, though gone are the days seeing toro quality cuts. Below was the Hamachi and Ahi Tuna combo.

The only thing missing was a hot bowl of rice! Haha. The live uni was over my lunch budget but the day's sandwich special was Yellow Tail (~$8). Avocado is extra.

A pretty solid fish sandwich, everything nice and fresh. Not a whole lot seems to have changed with the place except I noticed they'll be moving across the street to a bigger spot soon. Actually not sure if they're expanding or moving, I'll remember to ask next time.

El Pescador Fish Market, 627 Pearl St, La Jolla, CA 92037

Last but not least, I got my metal hood for my GF1 pancake lens last week. ~$6 on Amazon. Supposed to help with flare in certain lighting conditions but in all honesty I've always liked the look of it reminding me of styles on old Leica's. Mm, now that's a handsome camera. :)


Mary said...

So much stuff! I, too, definitely have a separate stomach for certain foods (though mine is for desserts, not curry). I like your quirky little collection of mugs, especially the mister donut one! So cute! I need to try more ramen. I'm a total ramen novice.

Dennis K. said...

Hi Mary! Actually the term betsu bara is often used in context of desserts so you're definitely not alone. Also many curry fans in Japan often say curry is a type of beverage, haha. That's hardcore.

caninecologne said...

Loved how the post went from mugs to ramen, your camera, and a book store in santa monica (to name a few). sadly,i have never heard of mister donut but now i want to go!

Dennis K. said...

Hi CC! A little bit of everything, kinda like a bento box? ;) Curiously Mister Donut started in America, but they took off in Japan in the 80's being reinvented. They've since spread to many parts of Asia. I have a few more Misu-Do trinkets. Maybe I'll make a post of it one day. :)

K and S said...

cool! red mugs are coffee, yellow mugs are cafe au lait and white are used for tea @ misdo :)

Dennis K. said...

Hi Kat! Ah now I understand the color coding of the Misudo mugs, thanks! :)

tasha said...

everything in this post looks so good :)

Dennis K. said...

Hi Tasha! Thanks..