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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

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BreadBar
8718 W 3rd Street, Los Angeles, CA 90048

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  1. thanks for the report. just in time as i plan on going next week!

    1. Thanks for posting:-). I was wondering how the ramen was at this Pop Up. Will have to try it soon. Was it crowded?

      1 Reply
      1. re: BombayUpWithaTwist

        It was not crowded at all -- Tuesday night. We did have reservations, but walk-ins could have sat at the empty patio. The tables inside (long, bar-height) are few and worth reserving for.

      2. direct link to menu

        http://www.breadbar.net/YMenu.jpg

        $8 for gyoza (both kinds

        )

        $10 for basic ramen, $12-18 for twisted

        3 Replies
        1. re: ns1

          Thanks ns1 -- forgot to mention prices. Originally I thought they were high for ramen - but now I think the "twist" makes it well worth it. Of course I can only speak for 2 of the 8 versions.
          And, yes, 8 (hatchi) is the theme for Breadbar pop ups.

          1. re: antonis

            I thought it was expensive for like 5 seconds until I remembered special pork @ Santouka = 9.99, Tonkatsu @ Daiko = 9.50

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            Santouka
            3760 S Centinela Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90066

            1. re: ns1

              agreed -- and fwiw, we have been to both Santouka (at Mitsuwa on Centinela Bl) and Daikokuya (in the old days when it was really good) and Yatai Ramen is way beyond those.

        2. Sounds great, thanks for the report! I'll have to check this out this weekend, if not sooner.

          Someone should tell Breadbar that there is no 't' in 'hachi.'

          1 Reply
          1. re: mrhooks

            Thank you for the tip mrhooks -- you are correct, sir: 八= 8 = はち=ha chi
            Breadbar should fix the ads.
            I hope you enjoy one of the eight bowls of ramen there and let us know what you think!

          2. 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...

            1 Reply
            1. re: J.L.

              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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              Santouka
              3760 S Centinela Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90066

              Boba Cafe
              1223 University Ave Ste 110, Riverside, CA 92507

            2. 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.

              1. 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' ...

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                BreadBar
                8718 W 3rd Street, Los Angeles, CA 90048

                2 Replies
                  1. re: stuffycheaks

                    too thin a hole in the bone at that end of the spine -- not exactly a big "osso" : )

                1. regarding the BYOS (sake), did they charge corkage?

                  1 Reply
                  1. 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.