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Mitsuwa "Legendary Ramen Fair"

Heads up! Three of the Mitsuwa Marketplace locations (Torrance, Costa Mesa, and San Diego) will be featuring a rotation of three top Japanese ramen shops over the course of the next few weekends as part of their "Legendary Ramen Festival" lol. Two have been here before - Chibakiya (Tokyo Shoyu - San Diego only looks like) and Sumire (Sapporo Miso), and one is new as far as I can tell - Asameshi Maeda Honten, which serves a shoyu tonkotsu ramen out of Asahikawa in Japan (hometown to Santouka as well).

Here's the schedule:

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  1. Great - Thanks for the heads up.

    Whats the deal - why does San Diego get to have all 3??

    1 Reply
    1. re: Zadok

      well to be fair, sumire and chibaki-ya have featured at torrance in the recent past. so maybe this will be san diego's first chance to partake of them?

    2. Thanks for the heads up! Bummer I've never heard of this event before.

      1. Ah, Santouka. My local Mitsuwa got a Santouka last year (it replaced Tampopo), and MY GOD. The regular ramens aren't great, but the special pork ramen?! Good in all flavors, I swear. I usually get shoyu or spicy miso. SO GOOD. And aside from a fishcake on the plate of meat, there's no fish in it, which is a major plus for me. I cannot eat fish. The last time I had ramen that I assumed was a pork/chicken broth, it was dashi and I spent the rest of my birthday that year puking. Ugh.

        This is why I, unfortunately, will be skipping those three places, as I notice they either use dashi, or just put fish in it. Which is unfortunate, since I love ramen, and would have been really excited to attend one of these weekends.

        1. damn, this looks awesome rameniac,
          i will be up north on my own legendary food tour this weekend:


          but i will be able to hit up Asameshi Maeda Honten for dinner in torrance.
          let me know if you have any interest in meeting up for a slurp fest!

          2 Replies
          1. re: modernist

            that would be fun modernist! although i'm not sure i'll be back in time for this particular ramen fest. enjoy norcal, and hit up some tung kee noodle lol!

            1. re: rameniac

              no noodles for me up north this time.
              but im gonna hit mitsuwa around noon on sunday.
              the chink with a beard.

          2. Oh.. My.. I am so ready for that. Thanks for the heads up. And thank goodness for living in Torrance. =P

            1 Reply
            1. re: mstinawu

              Hell, those of us that don't live in Torrance will still be making an appearance! Downtowners unite! :)

              I'm always missing the food festivals at Mitsuwa because I never know ahead of time. Now I have no excuse.

            2. Great news!

              And finally San Diego's getting some love for a change! :-)

              1. rameniac you rock! thx for the heads up!

                1. ARRGGHH!
                  rameniac.com appears to be down at this time!

                  Did anyone copy the schedule? Or maybe translate Japanese on mitsuwa.com :-)?

                  15 Replies
                  1. re: DiveFan

                    Asameshi Maeda Honten
                    Feb 15 - 18 - Costa Mesa
                    Feb 22 - 25 - Torrance
                    Feb 29 - Mar 3 - San Diego

                    Feb 15 - 18 - San Diego

                    Feb 15 - 18 - Torrance
                    Feb 22 - 25 - San Diego

                      1. re: DiveFan

                        I just got back from Chibakiya in SD and Asameshi in CM. They both were good but I preferred Asameshi. But I tend to favor Asahikawa ramen. Anyway, I'll post them both tonight on my blog...that is if I decide not to go to Torrance too...lol. I think I burned my tongue.

                        1. re: Keizo

                          maan, keizo, I got one word for you: statins!

                          1. re: rameniac

                            Thanks but my doc says I'm cool without them! haha.

                      2. re: africanizedkiller

                        I am going to this, is it all day? Or do I need to go at specific times?
                        It would be a real bummer to have driven 1 1/2 hour and be there at the wrong time :(


                      3. re: DiveFan

                        I just returned after trying the sumire (sapporo miso) ramen - great combo of pork and miso in the broth. Slightly oily in a good way. For comparison, feedback from ramen experts would be appreciated! It will set you back about $6.90 plus tax.

                        I don't remember any hours posted but then most of the signage is in Japanese. FYI Santouka's hours are 11a - 7:30p.

                        1. re: DiveFan

                          thanks! i'll be there tomorrow!

                          1. re: DiveFan

                            I was there for lunch. I was wary of eating miso ramen, since my one experience with it was a less than favorable one at Ramenya, but I like Sumire's a lot. The soup was very flavorful, rather salty, and...not quite spicy, but it seemed to me there was a bit of a kick to it. And I thought it was more than slightly oily - after one or two spoonfuls of soup, the dull plastic spoon was completely glossy. It's definitely not like most ramen places in LA, which, good or bad, seem cleaner, more "polite" and less rustic. And it was very hot and I'm guessing MSG-laden - my tongue still feels kinda funny, 11 hours later. The pork was good, though it was in little dices rather than slices. The noodles were excellent, a little more katamen than Santouka's. I only wish I could have gotten corn with my ramen (I didn't ask; they only spoke Japanese, and I couldn't remember how to say corn (and don't tell me it's "ko-n" or I'm gonna shoot myself)).

                            Overall, I still prefer Santouka's toroniku shio ramen, but Sumire's miso ramen is excellent. And I like their noodles a bit more than Santouka's.

                            As I was walking to my car, I saw three guys get into the car next to mine. One of the guys looked like rameniac. I wonder...

                            1. re: mrhooks

                              haha naw, i've been out of town all week unfortunately. if anything, i might only be able to hit up the last week of this event, and would probably have to drive down to san diego.

                              1. re: rameniac

                                Sucks you're out of town! But definitely go to SD to try the Asameshi. If they had instant versions I would've grabbed some for ya but they didn't. Anyway, if it means anything here's what I thought.

                                Sumire had the best noodles.
                                Chibakiya had the best toppings.
                                Asameshi Maeda Honten had the best soup. (Perhaps it's their relation to Santouka)

                                But it's still pretty hard to compare the three. They were all good.

                              2. re: mrhooks

                                My tongue is tingling too from Sumire's, but it partially because the crazy hot broth & oil seared it on the first spoon. Boy was I bummed about that, but overall a very tasty bowl of noodles. Too salty was the consensus of our group.

                                Probably the best miso ramen I've had, aside from the saltiness.

                                1. re: mpken

                                  Good my thoughts also. hokkaido based so i expected the oilyness. but Yeah i too thought it was too Shiokarai. Salty

                                  1. re: mpken

                                    I drove down to San Diego last weekend to try Sumire with some friends. We all felt the same: Incredibly good but too salty and maybe a little too oily. One member of the group pronounced the broth "chewy." Even though we walked around for the rest of the day gulping down water from the massive intake of salt, everyone loved the ramen. It was a real treat! Thanks for the heads up, Rameniac!

                                    Everything was in Japanese so we couldn't tell if this is an annual thing or not. Is it?

                              3. re: DiveFan

                                hiya, yea sorry we had some server issues, just as i was leaving town (>_<)! but everything should be working now.

                                for those who are wondering, the ramen shops will pretty much keep the same schedule as the rest of the restaurants in the food court, UNLESS they run out, at which point they'll close early. sometimes they'll have a special 'limited edition' ramen that will no doubt run out like, within the first day of the fest. on the final days (mondays) they might also wind it up a bit ahead of schedule, based on my experience. if you have to go in the evening, it's safer to go in the early evening... maybe 6ish or so.

                                1. dropped by Sumire today in Torrance.

                                  Quick summary
                                  - Noodles, insane
                                  - crazy oily/greasy though
                                  - had a taste off between santouka
                                  - if you could combine Sumire noodles, with santouka broth, and daikokuya meat, it would be perfect

                                  Very good, but too greasy to eat too often.

                                  3 Replies
                                  1. re: ns1

                                    Gave it a try today as well. I agree. Tasty, but a bit greasy. It was fun taking a trip out there on the way to OC today. Can't wait to give the others a try.

                                    1. re: ns1

                                      Had the same opinion. Really liked the noodles. The molten broth was pretty tasty but oily.

                                      Did you try the Okonomiyaki stand going on in the center section? That was really good. Much better than the ones I had at Gaja (even the ones I made myself). Fun stuff.

                                      Already ready for this weekend.

                                      1. re: BeachGrub

                                        They were tearing down just as I was walking up! I was so bummed.

                                    2. FAST HELP PLEASE - Hours for Costa Mesa? Thinking of going tonight, as leaving town tomorrow....

                                      1. Went to Costa Mesa yesterday, so i'll post my experience :)
                                        here are the pics: http://gourmetpigs.blogspot.com/2008/...

                                        Yesterday we made a day trip and met up with a friend in Costa Mesa to go to the legendary ramen fair in Mitsuwa Costa Mesa.
                                        It was super crowded and they even had valet parking. Valet parking at Mitsuwa??
                                        We ended valet-ing anyway, though, since we couldn't find parking.

                                        On the way in, we saw carts selling sweet potatoes and roasted chestnuts. We bought a sweet potato, which was very moist and sweet. It did have an aftertaste that we couldn't quite place. It might have been the charcoal? At any rate, it was still tasty to me.

                                        We lined for the shio ramen. They had closed down the udon place to make room for the ramen in these few days. The other eating places were still busy like usual though.

                                        They gave us numbered tickets and after a brief wait got our ramen. The main hurdle is finding a place to seat! We had our eye on this table but the couple sitting there, although done with their meal, just kept talking ... and talking ... Eventually they left! Yay!

                                        Now I can enjoy my ramen. This is the Asameshi Maeda Honten shio ramen:
                                        Al dente noodles. Very very flavorful broth (a bit too salty for two of my friends, though). Tender (almost) melt in your mouth pork.
                                        Is it legendary? Is it the best ramen I've ever had? I don't know if it's legendary, but it's pretty f-ing good. Way better than ramen places on Sawtelle, better than Daikokuya even.

                                        We were gonna go to Torrance on the way home, but we ended up at Boomer's and since we didn't want to leave until we did 5 rounds of go-karting, I had to say bye bye to the other ramen *sob*
                                        Especialy since you CHers said that one had the best noodles

                                        5 Replies
                                        1. re: burumun

                                          here is a shot of santouka miso ramen on the left, Sumire on the right.
                                          Surime had the BEST noodles.

                                          1. re: Skunk2Racer

                                            yes, yes it did. but goddamn the grease made me hate myself after.

                                            Hey S2R, were you there Saturday for lunch?

                                            1. re: ns1

                                              Yes I was. I was number 45 & 46 a little after 11:00 am And went back again today I was number 3 &4 today. Yeah the grease got to me also. Thank god I don't eat it every week. Surime needs to open up in LA. Makes me sad at how far behind the LA ramen scene is compared to Japan.

                                              1. re: Skunk2Racer

                                                Ah interesting. I think I just missed you then. Unless you happened to be sitting right in front of the Santouka...

                                                Me and the wifey were eating Sumire ramen in that tatami area. The people next to us had a bowl of each. We looked over, saw them doing a side by side comparison, and decided that we had to do the same.

                                                1. re: ns1

                                                  Actually my dad and I were sitting at the first table on the top dining area. Across from the Curry place right next to Santouka. saturday i was wearing a Usc Football shirt. today it was a Beckham galaxy jersey

                                        2. I got bowl #1480 of the Chibakiya ramen today for lunch. The soft-boiled halved egg with golden yellow yolk was fantastic, made me wish there was another half hiding somewhere. Sliced bamboo was fairly standard and the predominant topping. Did I forget to mention the paper thin slice of pork? I need more than a nimble of chasu! The noodles themselves were nothing to write home about but the broth was great. Falls short of Santouka when compared head to head but what doesn't.

                                          1. Anybody interested in a mini CH meetup this weekend @the Torrance location? I'll be there around 1230-1ish for a ramen tasting with the wifey.

                                            let me know by email ;) I'd love to eat with fellow foodies!


                                            2 Replies
                                            1. re: ns1

                                              Aw I'll be there at 11:00 am Look for Me I'll be wearing a Skunk2Racing shirt.

                                              1. re: Skunk2Racer

                                                why you gotta go so early? lol. I was there for 90 minutes last time eating!

                                            2. Just got back from trying Asameshi at the Torrance Mitsuwa with my brother. Really good, firm noodles and delicious broth. But I like the pork at Santouka much better. Wow we really have a treasure here in Santouka. Sorry to have missed Sumire and Chibaki, but I will come back next year. Thanks, Rameniac for the heads up.

                                              9 Replies
                                              1. re: Ogawak

                                                Awesome, can't wait. Thanks for the review! Wouldn't by chance know what time they close?

                                                1. re: ns1

                                                  Rameniac posted that the hours would be the same as the food court restaurants, 7:30, but he couldn't say whether they would run out of food. You should be okay if it's early evening.

                                                  1. re: Ogawak

                                                    Ah, unfortunate; don't think I can make it there from DTLA in time...thanks though.

                                                    S2R - I'll try to meet up with you tomorrow.

                                                      1. re: Skunk2Racer

                                                        Just got back from Lunch. Met up with ns1. Nice to meet others that have the same dedication to food. Well on to the Review.........Asameshi maeda Honten I had high hopes..... Chashu Shabu Shabu thinly sliced, Nice flavor the best thing about the dish. Hanjuku tamago Sorry It was completely Hard boiled. So so menma a lot softer than others. Now on to the Noodles & broth. Both were OK The broth was Assari you could taste the seafood stock in it. The noodles were Ok also. Nothing special. A side by side comparison with santouka. The broth was much better. Now if I could have Sumire Noodles, Asameshi Maeda Honten Chashu, and Santouka Shio broth. All would be well.
                                                        Picture Santouka Shoyu Ramen Left, Asameshi Maeda Honten Shoyu Ramen Right.

                                                        1. re: Skunk2Racer

                                                          Funny how my review is almost spot on with S2R's.

                                                          Asameshi chashu pork, excellent. thinly sliced, similar consistency/texture to shabu shabu/pho tai. Easily the highlight. The broth was ok, wasn't bad wasn't great, same with the noodles. The shoyu ramen from santouka was also ok, not as good as the shio ramen IMHO.

                                                          I find it easier to eat on an everyday basis vs the sumire ramen, but I think Santouka Shio and daikokuya are better than Sumire and Asameshi.


                                                          Santouka Shio/Daikokuya (tied for me) > (Sumire, Santouka Shoyu, Asameshi)

                                                          It would take some combination of (Sumire/Asameshi + a different broth) to beat out (Santouka Shio/Daikokuya).

                                                          S2R- Sorry couldn't stay for too long. Too many errands on weekends! If it weren't for food I don't know what I'd do haha. Nice meeting you and your dad. Til next time!

                                                          1. re: ns1

                                                            Ok Now I'm gonna brave the line at Daikokuya. It is only down the hill from my work. Yeah great to meet you. Pizza Crawl next time?

                                                            1. re: Skunk2Racer

                                                              Sounds good, shoot me an email mdong1@gmail.com

                                                          2. re: Skunk2Racer

                                                            Heh, I just got back too. I forgot to look for the skunk shirt in the chaos that is Mitsuwa. I was the skinny Asian guy with the super-long hair.

                                                            My review is pretty much the same. Very good chashu (i like it more than Santouka's special toroniku chashu, and perhaps on par with Santouka's regular chashu), broth not as good as Santouka's toroniku shio broth (but compared to the regular shio broth, or the toroniku shoyu broth, I'm not too sure, it might be a close battle for me). The broth was almost as oily as Sumire's miso broth. Flavor and consistency-wise, it was in between Santouka's toroniku shoyu broth and Gardena Ramen's shoyu broth. The noodles had good flavor, but were too soft; not as good as Santouka, and not even close to Sumire. I don't think their egg was supposed to be hanjuku. Chibaki-ya is the place known for hanjuku egg.

                                                            Overall I still prefer Santouka, but the oilier, darker broth is a nice change of pace from the occasionally overwhelming sweetness of Santouka's toroniku shio broth (occasionally as in after having it more than once a week for a couple of months, heh).

                                                            Point of reference, my ideal L.A. Franken-ramen would be Asa's noodles, but more katamen like Shin Sen Gumi's, with Santouka's toroniku shio broth and Asa's toppings plus Santouka's kikurage. Tokyo's Kyusyu Jangara zenbuiri ramen with katamen noodles and kotteri broth would be even better.

                                                2. Just wonder why people are comparing the shio broth with shoyu broth? aren't they suppose to taste different? How can an apple compare with an orange? ;-p

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. re: kelvlam

                                                    Because the shio ramen is Santouka's signature ramen, the one most people go to Santouka for. So we're basically the best Santouka has to offer with the offerings of the visiting ramenya.

                                                  2. Had it today.. Decent bowl but absolutely not unique.. Broth..serviceable, noodles...not too fresh, chashu...thinly sliced but nothing else to distinguish it. I don't really see the point in offering this ramen at all, it was not unique in any way. For me it's still: 1)Santouka, 2)Shinsengumi, 3)Chabuya...they would be number 2, but their service and food is inconsistent.

                                                    1. i went to mitsuwa torrance to try the ramen, and i tasted a friends bowl and opted out of ordering one for myself.... instead i went to hakata (since i eat at santouka venice/centinela all the time) i feel like their noodles have really gone downhill....

                                                      does anyone else think this? its probably been over a year since i've had it so it could just be poor memory...