Yatai Ramen Twist, a pop up at Breadbar on 3rd - impressive!
Two of us went to see what the fuss was all about with "twisted" ramen at Breadbar on Third street, an unlikely environment for "street food", let alone Japanese refined cuisine. We were very pleasantly surprised. We tried the Shio (classic) and the Foie Gras (twisted) and were impressed by the quality of the ingredients but most importantly by the depth and layers of flavor in the broths (very different between the two).
Equally well made were the two kinds of gyoza on the menu. We liked the Pork Feet gyoza better than the kale, even though we were predisposed to prefer kale over hoofs : )
Both came with a well made dipping sauce, and both were properly pan fried to be crispy on the outside while still plump and juicy inside.
We were able to bring our own sake (though beer would be ramen protocol) and picked one that stood up to the demands of the rich broth. The Narutotai Genshu delivered the body, big flavor and layered taste that complimented the ramen.
Some photos on flickr: http://tinyurl.com/2a4tfuq
Those who will look closely will notice that the "shio" label is placed before the wrong bowl - please ignore and go by the title of the picture. The elegant service includes little printed labels to indicate the name of the dish; they just sometimes get mixed up!
In all, we were impressed enough to plan on going back to try the rest of the (small) menu. We have until July 24. We suggested to Kazu-san that maybe we deserve a permanent ramen-ya of his own on the West side, but he didn't think it was in the cards for now.
Info on Yatai Ramen Twist at Breadbar is here: http://tinyurl.com/24e5wrx
8718 W 3rd Street, Los Angeles, CA 90048
dropped into the yatai ramen event last friday and left with a meh expression.
the service was GREAT. but the ramen was just ok. the pork feet gyoza was mushy and the wrapping disintegrated much too easily.
i thought the foie ramen was just ok. there is a nice seared foie slab presented on top but the broth was lacking in foie essence and depth/complexity. the broth in general was just flat...however it was served piping hot. the noodles were cooked very well though.
the ox tail ramen fared better than the foie ramen. the broth had more depth and substance but still was not complex nor deep as i am accustomed to.
i hada good time overall but the ramen and gyoza left me unsatisfied.
Went back to try two more ... we decided that the ox tail variation must be the best of the bunch. There are still 4 we haven't tried, but we just bet on that one.
It's very Chinese in its five-spice broth, and very... osso bucco in the braised-meat-falling-off-the-bone aspect of it. For anybody with classic ramen expectations, this is not the one.
But it's a nice broth, excellent gyu, same nicely done soft boiled egg as before.
This time we also tried to find out why the kale gyoza did not impress us as much as the pork one: it's the brown rice in it. Gives it a starchy stickiness which we thought didn't go with the wrapper's own starch. Brown rice and kale seems a nice combination on its own, but made into a gyoza -- maybe too gummy?
Also up for discussion is the question of whether the temperature in the bowl is hot enough for ramen. I'd say no, it is not. But in this case they have the excuse of the location not being designed for serving hot noodles. And makes the case that they need to set up a real shop in the 'hood!
As a footnote: part of the excitement over having Breadbar become a temporary ramen-ya is that we thought the quality and variety is far better than Santouka or Daikokuya. But equally important in the "excitement quotient" is the location. This good, this close to home beats something far away, even if the quality difference were only small. Just sayin' ...
8718 W 3rd Street, Los Angeles, CA 90048
I went last night as well and echo what everyone else said. It was a decent $10 bowl of ramen ($11 in my case) but nothing earth-shattering.
I stuck with the basic portion of the menu and ordered the spicy miso because I figured it would be easier to judge the quality of the bowl of noodles with something more simple. The spiciness of the bowl was brought on by a small dollop of yuzu kusho (yuzu pepper).
The broth itself was *very* salty even for a ramen broth and I didn't really taste any of the complex flavor of miso. Maybe the salt covered it up. The yuzu kusho added an okay kick to it, but anyone can buy a jar of it from Mitsuwa and add a teaspoon of it to their broth.
The noodles were cooked well and still had a nice chew. The pork was okay but also borderline too salty. The stand-out of the bowl was the perfectly cooked egg. I love it when the yolk is still a bit runny in the middle.
The only thing I didn't understand were the burnt slices of garlic in the soup. They weren't crispy garlic chips. They were blackened, bitter slices of burnt garlic. I don't think they added to the bowl at all.
My 2 yen:
Just went last night. Had the Shio and the Foie Gras ramen. They ran out of kale gyoza, so I had the pork trotter gyoza instead. Coconut boba milk to wash it all down. I brought some yuzu sake myself as well. Excellent service.
Now, onto the food:
Port trotter gyoza: Meh. Nicely fried skins. The filling was standard.
Coconut milk with boba: Takes me back to Relaxtation on Sawtelle, 1998 (except the boba are more inconsistent at Yatai). Yum, though.
Shio ramen - The broth was tasty (and true to form, salty), but lacked depth. The curly noodles were decent in their "bite", and the chashu was nothing to write home about. BUT their hanjuku egg was outstanding.
Foie gras ramen: I had been looking forward to this. The use of foie gras in Japanese cuisine intrigues me. Hiro-san's foie gras shabu shabu at Urasawa is one of my favorite dishes. When it arrived, I saw that there was a very generous serving of liver in the bowl - A good sign, right? Then I took my first bite. I think the first word that came to mind was: "Strange". The broth was infused with the foie gras flavor, yet I did not love it... Or even like it. The foie gras had hybridized with the ramen broth and became a very oily, sweet concoction. Sweet to the point of noxiousness. I was kinda hoping that the foie gras would be subtly infused into the ramen (since it's such a "heavy" ingredient), but instead, I think "shock and awe" was more what the chef had in mind. Nonetheless, despite it shortcomings, I still suggest my fellow 'hounds to try it, simply because it's so novel. But, be prepared for a VERY rich (and sweet) bowl of ramen...
Gotta return soon and try all the other things on the menu...
Went there last night. I had the Shio Ramen, which I thought was good. My wife had the Vietnamese Ramen, which didn't look that special. She said it was OK. I don't think I would have picked that one. They were out of Foie Gras Ramen.
I was expecting it to be packed, but there were available tables.
Overall, I thought it was good. $10 is about the same as I end up spending at Shin Sen Gumi or Santouka. The Vietnamese noodles were a couple of bucks more. We also ordered the Pig Trotter Gyoza, which I didn't think were very special and kinds of expensive. Order the Coconut Boba. It as a really nice flavor.
If you ordered 2 bowls of noodles, it isn't too bad. If I hopped in the car and drove to Monterey Park or Culver City, I would end up spending a few bucks in gas.
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