Showing posts with label ramen. Show all posts
Showing posts with label ramen. Show all posts

Saturday, December 15, 2018

Totoyama: Sushi and Ramen in the Heart of Hollywood

Let's face it, Hollywood Blvd is not typically what comes to mind when thinking of a place to eat, unless I happen to be catching a show at the Pantages or drinking nearby. But recently I was invited to check out Totoyama Sushi and Ramen, a casual Japanese spot in the same complex as Greenleaf and Pressed Juicery. There's no Hollywood glitz at Totoyama, but the space is nice and comfortable, and the food was surprisingly good and prices were affordable!

Totoyama usually offers an omakase with 10 pieces of nigiri and miso soup and edamame for $48, but they also had a sampler of Japanese fish. I got the Japanese fish sampler combo for $58 which included 4 different 2pcs nigiri and one piece of uni.
Totoyama
I thought it was quite a good deal 9 pieces which included uni! Each sushi was dressed individually. I believe I opted for the aji (mackerel), kanpachi, sea bream, and since they were out of one item I had the salmon.

My friend got the spicy miso ramen ($13) which had a rich and flavorful broth, and pretty spicy. Too spicy for me, but she quite enjoyed it.
Totoyama

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Hojoko, A New Izakaya in Boston, MA

When the owner of O Ya, Tim Cushman, opened up Hojoko, everyone was naturally excited about the new izakaya in the Fenway Kenmore neighborhood. The large restaurant is located inside the Verb Hotel and has a cool funky vibe. They also play anime movies on the back screen!

Hojoko
Food-wise, Hojoko is good, but the menu can be hit-or-miss, not for the flavors necessarily, but for the price.

One of the items I would recommend ordering is the Torched uni, soy, olive oil, shiso, parsley, nori butter, toast ($14)
Hojoko
They gave a good amount of the creamy uni, though the star of the dish is the umami-packed nori butter. You don't want to give that up even after you're done with the toast! This is definitely one of their more unique and creative dishes.

Funky chicken ramen (rich chicken broth, soy egg, menma, robata-grilled koji chicken). This used to be $9 which was a great deal but they've raised the price to $12 last time I returned.
Hojoko
It was still a lovely bowl of ramen, though, especially if you're looking for something lighter than the usual, rich tonkotsu broth. And I do love the grilled chicken that it came with.

Hojoko's cocktail list is a fun one, though. There are Asian inspired drinks like the Chiyoda G&T (Beefeater gin, ponzu, avocado oil, tonic, black sesame, $12)
Hojoko

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Ramen Champ is Back with New Owner and Revamped Menu

by guest blogger @iam_robot

A few weeks after closing for a much needed “vacay”, Chinatown Far East Plaza’s ramen joint Ramen Champ will reopen with new owner and new menu on October 2nd.
Yoshimasa Kasai, former director of Ramen Yokocho Festival and famed founder of Ramen Iroha, took over the shop from one of Eggslut co-owners, Alvin Cailan, and would bring his vast experience (winning 5 Tokyo Ramen Championships among others) to this already popular noodle shop.
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Alvin Cailan will stay on board as consultant while Kasai will keep the outlook of the shop, which includes a Robot Ramen interior mural by New York artist Mike Houston. IMG_1603
The tiny soup noodle joint started earlier this year as a partnership between Eggslut co-owners Alvin Cailan & Johnny Lee along with Men-Oh-Tokushima Chef Nathan Asamoto. Kasai revamped the entire menu and would start with 3 different bowls of ramen. Tonkotsu Ramen will be the main star with noodles, chashu, mushrooms, green onions and sesame oil; Tonkotsu Tan Tan Men will be the Chinese fusion flavor with noodles, greens and a Sichuan peppercorn paste; and Vegan Ramen will be the healthier options with spinach noodles and broth made with kombu & dried shitake mushrooms.

Last weekend, I had the chance to taste the broth for the Tonkotsu Ramen and a full bowl of the Tan Tan Men.
Tonkotsu Ramen
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I was quite speechless when I tried the Tonkotsu Ramen broth, thought it was the most savory broth. It was rich but it didn’t feel overwhelming or overly salty, just felt right with the medium soft noodles and strong toasty flavor from the sesame oil.

Friday, August 28, 2015

WHISK Monthly Pop-Ups at Fazenda Cafe (Jamaica Plain, Boston, MA)

Whisk, a pop-up restaurant run by chefs Jeremy Kean and Philip Kruta that has been going around Boston, has purchased Fazenda Cafe in Jamaica Plain. They're making changes slowly and still serving Fazenda coffee so loyal cafe customers would not lose their regular place, but they've added some new items and once a month they run a pop-up dinner. For the dinner, Whisk tries to serve produce from within 20 miles of Boston, as much as possible. I attended one recently themed "WHISKy Ramen".

WHISKyRamen
We'll get to the ramen soon, but let's first start with some Island Creek oysters, cucumber ice, raspberry, wild onion ($12 for 6)
WHISKyRamen
Followed by more oysters! You can't have too many oysters. Roasted oysters and biscuits, whipped apples, forager's butter, nasturtium, poppy ($15 for 3)
WHISKyRamen
The roasted oysters were amazing and I loved the whipple apple and butter on top of the biscuits. A great combo.

Watermelon & Thatcher Ricotta, blue basil, husk tomato, flowers ($12)
WHISKyRamen
The perfect summer salad. This is one I could eat every day in this warm weather, with a light ricotta, the aroma of herbs, and sweet watermelon and tomatoes. A lot of the produce in this bowl and other dishes came from Red Fire Farm in Granby, MA and Eva's Garden in Dartmouth.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Hello and Adieu, East by Northeast in Inman Square (Cambridge, MA)

I tried East by Northeast in Inman Square not too long ago, but it seems I already have to say goodbye. The restaurant will close on March 8 (they invite you to come in and have drinks and they will send out food until they run out, according to Eater).

East by Northeast says they serve contemporary Chinese cuisine, but their menu is actually more diverse than that. This small restaurant has often been named one of the best restaurants in Boston.
I had a pretty good meal there, starting with the Braised lamb bun, sesame peppercorn sauce, broccoli rabe, pickled golden beets ($5 each)

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This is a nice change from the typical pork belly buns. I actually prefer the texture of the lamb better and the sauce was quite flavorful. Th pickles added a nice texture contrast and cleanses your palate for the next bite. Overall a great bun.

Ramen (smoked pork confit, miso pork broth, soft poached egg, xo sauce, toasted nori, $16)
Ramen
I was debating whether or not I should order a $16 ramen but I figured I have to try all the ramen in Boston at some point.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Jiro-style Ramen at Yume Wo Katare (Porter Square, Cambridge, MA)

As you exit the red line T stop at Porter Square, you will soon notice the line going towards Yume wo Katare, a place popular for the fatty pork ramen in the style of Jiro in Mita.

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Buta Ra-man!
Yume wo Katare is supposedly one of the first (if not the first) US shop to serve Jiro ramen, which is a really fatty pork broth that is completely different from a tonkotsu, topped with a big pile of bean sprouts and some cabbage. With that, some thick chashu (more pork fat!)
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Being from LA, I initially snuffed at the Boston ramen scene, but this small shop is one of the very few that looked promising and I was happy to see this particular style, which you can't even find in LA until Tsujita Annex opened just a couple of years ago.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Genius Hour and Ramen at Backbar in Somerville (Boston, MA)

4-6pm at Backbar in Somerville's Union Square is dubbed the Genius Hour. I just found out that happy hours as I knew it in LA is illegal in Boston, as in they're not allowed to discount alcohol. What Boston bars/restaurants do instead is discount food or have special food items during "happy hour". Backbar's Genius Hour, then, is the only 2 hours of each day when you can get their lauded Genius Ramen.

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It's a great time to chill at the bar, as well, though. It's calm and quiet, the sunlight passes through the skylight.

The ramen's broth changes from season to season. In the winter you might find a rich tonkotsu (pork) broth. At the end of spring when I went, they had a chicken dashi broth, finished off with tare ($14).
Ramen

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Top 12 Spots to Get Uni and Ramen in Los Angeles

These two "collections" of favorites list I made for Foodie.com are for those looking to pig out!

You should know by now how much I love uni or sea urchin, so here are my 12 favorite spots to get dishes made with uni, or just to get fresh uni in the shell.


Best ramen in LA? That is a controversial topic indeed, but to create a list of the top 12 was actually pretty hard! We have a lot of great ramen places, but apparently there still can be more. Some of these places are actually my favorite places for tsukemen and not ramen, but close enough :)

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Kyushu & Okinawa Fair at Mitsuwa, Back on July 18-21

I love going to Mitsuwa during their various regional fairs and the Kyushu and Okinawa Fair is returning on July 18-21, featuring some very fun food items. They sell most of the stuff at all the Mitsuwa Marketplace locations including Costa Mesa and San Diego, but the most complete one is Torrance (check out this page to see which store is selling what)

My favorite from last time was the caramel pudding with cream in a choux pastry! They're not doing the caramel one this year but they'll have a strawberry pudding in a choux pastry :D I'll definitely be trying that.
Last year they had tonkotsu ramen from Ramen Tatsuno-ya but unfortunately they'll only be in San Jose this time around. Instead, we'll have Hakata Nagahama Ramen from Tanaka Shoten.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

PINGTUNG Eat-In Market: Great Asian Food on Melrose, For Real

When you talk about Chinese food on the westside, West Hollywood, or Hollywood, you're immediately skeptical. Of you might say that "it's pretty good for the westside". Well, PingTung recently opened up on Melrose, serving up dim sum, Chinese rice dishes, beef rolls, and Japanese ramen, and it's good. Not just "it's pretty good for Melrose", but actually good.

Unlike the higher end Bao, PingTung is more casual, with wooden tables and an outdoor night market style seating in the back. There are Asian products displayed on the shelves for purchase. That's the market part. I'm here for the eat-in part.

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The owner (Ping) had hired a Chinese chef to make all the dim sum and a Japanese chef to make all the ramen.
She told us that the chefs had protested initially when she told them to cook with no MSG and less oil, but they finally figured out how to do this while maintaining the taste.

Pingtung Flat Bread Beef Roll ($6.95)
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I thought the flatbread would be some kind of pizza-like thing but it turns out to be these rolls! They're done well, the skin nicely crisped at the edges.

Chicken Shumai ($5.50)
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They also have pork shumai but Ping really wanted me to try the chicken shumai. Have to admit, they're pretty good (that just means the pork would be that much better, right?). They tasted cleaner than SGV dumplings but that's not necessarily bad.

Radish cake with chinese sausage ($4.95)
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My default order when I go to dim sum. I like the browned, thinner version here. More crisp to volume ratio!

Crystal Shrimp Dumplings ($5.50)
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No dim sum without har gow!
When I eat this, the thing I watch out for is the skin. Sometimes the skin is too thick or too hardened. Not so here, I was pleasantly surprised that the skin and, indeed, the whole dumpling was excellent.

(Spicy) Miso Tonkotsu Ramen $7.95
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They don't make the noodles in house but the noodles they use were specifically made for their broths. The company they use had come to taste the broth and figured out the right noodles to use. The tonkotsu is not as fatty as most places but it's still quite good! Healthier while maintaining great flavors, indeed. Ping is also very proud of her chicken ramen, which I will have to try later.

Paiku Pork Chop ($10.95), comes with soup of the day.
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This is the only one that I didn't really like, because the meat was a bit tough. When I was there the soup was a hot and sour soup.

They also have beer and sake (and sake cocktails) as well as a good selection of loose leaf teas. Overall I was very pleasantly surprised by PingTung. Yes, the price point is still higher than San Gabriel Valley (and there's no chicken feet on the menu), but what can you expect with a Melrose rent? Either way it may be the only dim sum (or ramen) place to go to in this area, and it's one I would be happy to recommend to others.

PINGTUNG
7455 Melrose Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90046
(323) 866-1866
www.pingtungla.com
Pingtung on Urbanspoon

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Tsujita LA: Artisan Noodles and Izakaya

This small, new restaurant on Sawtelle got a false start before finally making big waves in the LA food scene. While the sign clearly says "Tsujita LA: Artisan Noodles", they initially did not have noodles - they apparently were still working on perfecting that part. Now, they only serve their noodles (ramen and tsukemen) for lunch, and at dinner service it turns into an izakaya. Even so, almost immediately after, the twitterverse was filled with talks of the tsukemen.

At Tsujita, the tsukemen, which means "dipping noodles", is a bowl of slippery, chewy noodles and a bowl of thick, rich broth made by simmering bonito, sardines, pork bones, chicken bones, and vegetables for 12 hours. The fishy bonito flavors predominate and the richness can stick to your ribs - both of which make this tsukemen unforgettable.

Tsukemen
Pictured is the Ajitama Tsukemen which is served with a boiled egg and costs $10.95, or $13.95 with chashu.
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Originally the sign instructs you to eat 1/3 of the noodles with the broth, then mix in shichimi and eat another 1/3, and lastly to squeeze lime into it and mix it again (traditionally it is served with sudachi, but I guess you can't get that in LA). For some reason, they had taped off the 2nd instruction for the shichimi.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Ramen Bull Pops up at BreadBar with Beef and Oxtail Ramen

BREADBAR and Chef Noriyuki Sugie of Ironnori brings back ramen to BREADBAR's 3rd Street location. Not the pork-based tonkotsu ramen, but beef ramen, dubbed Ramen Bull. The menu is simple but diverse (as far as beef go). There's the oxtail, beef tongue, spicy ground beef, even a vegetarian ramen.

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Oxtail Ramen
I was recently invited to taste chef Nori's ramen creations. I had gotten there early and my +1 was running late, so I ordered a plate of Corned Beef ($6) to munch on.
Corned Beef
The slices of corned beef was topped with charcoal oil, adding to the flavor. Texture-wise, I prefer the tender beef tongue that comes next.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Hot and Soupy #2: Ippudo, NY. Best Ramen in the States

A New York trip calls for Ippudo - if you haven't been there, that is.
I met up with an LA blogger (now Destination Eats) who's relocated to NYC, and his girlfriend for lunch during my trip.
There was a 45 minute wait, so we went to Momofuku Milk Bar to get some goodies while waiting for a table, but Ippudo's staff wouldn't let us take our cookies into the dining area. We had to leave them in the staff closet to be picked up when we leave.

We had fun observing the wall of ramen bowls behind the bar, and wondered what would happen during an earthquake. Well, good thing they're not in California!
After a while we were called to be seated and walked through a fairly large dining room - much fancier than other ramen joints I've been too, but I guess this is a popular spot in NY after all.

I've heard good things about their pork buns, so we ordered some. But beware although at the bar you can order them for $4 each, when you're seated at a table you have to order two at a time for $8! Why? Who knows. Because they want to?
Some people may kill me for this, but I actually liked Momofuku's pork buns better ...
The problem with these are the mayonnaise. Too much mayonnaise that it overwhelms the pork flavor. While the oyster sauce in Momofuku's pork buns are reminiscent of Beijing duck, mayonnaise just reminded me of ...well ... sandwiches?

But the main attraction here is the ramen. I ordered the Akamaru Modern ($14)
Akamaru means 'red circle,' Destination Eats' girlfriend explained to me. The red circle most likely referred the dollop of spicy miso paste in the middle.

Some food porn shots for you: thin straight noodles in true Hakata-style, thick chashu, medium boiled eggs.
This was indeed an excellent bowl of ramen. I liked the firm Hakata thin noodles, the tonkotsu broth is rich and flavorful, the chashu thick and succulent, and the half boiled eggs added an extra texture that neither poached nor hard boiled egg can. It is indeed a magnificent bowl of ramen that hints of the gloriousness that you might get at the original Hakata outpost.

The $14 price tag aside, the attitude about the pork bun ordering and taking cookies in aside, this was conceivably the best bowl of ramen I've had in the US. Whether or not you should pay $14 for a bowl of ramen, though (even if you are in New York), is entirely your decision.

Ippudo
65 4th Ave
New York, NY 10003
(212) 388-0088
www.ippudo.com/ny/
Ippudo on Urbanspoon
Ippudo in New York

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Ramen Meets Szechuan at Chin-Ma-Ya

A szechuan inspired ramen-ya right below Orochon and their Special #2? It's not just putting spicy under spicy though as Chin-Ma-Ya has garnered more positive reviews than their higher older brother.

One of those positive reviews came from Choisauce who claimed that the chicken karaage was the best ever, and that even though she hates the original Chinese version of dan dan mien, she loves the tan tan men here. I actually love dan dan mien though (even if I have to drink 5 glasses of water for it), so I was curious about the difference.

That and $1 beer during happy hour was enough to entice me to join her, Go Ramen, and Food GPS there for a quick meal.

Chicken karaage ($3.90) w/ chili-mayo sauce
It was true, these chicken karaage were pretty damn good, especially when fresh and hot. The fried batter was amazing and crunchy while keeping the chicken meat inside tender and juicy. While "the best" for me may go for the Jidori chicken karaage at Bincho or Torihei, the ones here are worth getting every visit.

Tan-Tan Men ($6.90)
Choose between mild, medium, or original and served with ground beef and pork mixture, spinach, hard boiled egg. Needless to say this is completely different than the chinese dan dan mien. The only resemblance is perhaps the ground meat and the fact that it is spicy? When we had it they have the yellow curly noodles which were a-ok but the broth itself was very satisfying. The broth was spicy and full of flavors - it's just the type you would gulp down when your noodles are gone.

I heard that they have now replaced the noodles with the original recipe from Japan, which should make this even better, though I've yet to try it!


Chin-Ma-Ya of Tokyo
123 Astronaut Ellison S Onizuka St. #202
Los Angeles, CA 90012
(213) 625-3400
www.chinmayaoftokyo.com
Chin-Ma-Ya of Tokyo on Urbanspoon
Chin-Ma-Ya of Tokyo in Los Angeles

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Hakata Ramen at Shinsengumi and How I Devoured the Whole Bowl

Ramen! Like I said pre-French Laundry, I'll be eating lots of ramen after that gorgeous meal. I'm slowly making my way through the South Bay eateries (though this weekend I'm planning a full-blown marathon!!). Since for some reason I always get my chance to go down on Sundays, my only ramen option in the area was Hakata Shinsengumi in Gardena.

There was a waiting list and we waited for about 15 minutes.

For $7.95 at lunch you can get a bowl of chashu ramen and one of a selection of small sides. I opted for the gyoza.
The gyozas are small but they're great. I like the thin, crispy skin and the fillings aren't fatty and greasy.

My friend got the chicken onigiri as a side dish.
I did like the onigiri itself, but I don't think I actually got any chicken.

I ordered the "normal" ramen (medium level of oil, etc) but with extra chashu (as you can see below, I ended up getting lots of chashu) and egg for extra charge.
A bit of info on the Hakata variation of ramen: The broth is a rich tonkotsu (pork-bone) broth, and typically topped with some beni shoga (pickled ginger). The noodles in the Hakata ramen are thin and straight (as opposed to the curly, thicker noodles).
I personally like this type of noodles better (and the texture makes it easier to slurp too! ;) ).
So how was the ramen, you ask? I'll say this: I cleaned up the whole bowl. Yes, after devouring the noodles+chashu+egg, I picked up the bowl and drank the broth. Down.to.the.last.drop.
Maybe I was just starving. But it just tasted sooooo good to me.

For dessert: yogurt mousse ($4)
Pretty rich but the tartness and the fresh fruits make it refreshing. Like a mousse-y Pinkberry actually.

A different style, but definitely one of the best ramen places in the LA area. I can't speak for their other locations, but the Gardena location is definitely worth a try!

Hakata Ramen Shinsengumi
2015 W Redondo Beach Blvd
Gardena, CA 90247
www.shinsengumiusa.com
(310)329-1335
Hakata Ramen Shinsengumi on Urbanspoon

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