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Ramen Festival Coming to Torrance

wienermobile Aug 22, 2013 03:45 PM

12 Ramen restaurants including Jidaiya, Hayatemaru, Tsujita, Ikemen, and Daikokuya will be there, Kitakata Ramen from Japan, and Gomaichi from Hawaii. Each bowl of ramen is $8, entrance to the festival is free. September 14-15th 10am-8pm
Torrance Cultural Arts Center
3341 Civic Center Dr Torrance, CA

 
  1. Melanie Wong Sep 25, 2013 12:44 AM

    Thanks to those of you who reported in. I was bummed that I missed out, had already booked my flight out of LAX friday night before I heard about this. Very interesting to see your take on Orenchi and Shalala's miso (its best soup stock, imo) from NorCal, since you have so many more (and high quality) ramen options available to you.

    1. blimpbinge Sep 14, 2013 02:46 PM

      I got there at about 10AM and there was still parking around the center. The line was probably 300 people long as I got there, and even longer when I left

      My group split up and bought ramen from 4 shops. We wanted to get more, but the lines were a bit too long for our liking and the ramen was enough to fill us up.

      Portions were about 1/2 size of what is normally served at restaurants, $8, and there was also a sushi, ramen burger, and tendon(?) shop, as they were selling those tickets as well. Beer and water tickets must be bought up front and picked up from the stalls later on, just like ramen. The beer is not served until 1pm, so I ended up declining.

      Went to:

      Orenchi - tonkotsu ramen, the broth was good, but a bit too hot, so it didn't seem as flavorful as it's competitors (and definitely not close to tsujita or santouka's level). Appeared to be "kotteri" style with extra fat chunks. The chashu wasn't bad but was overcooked and fell apart right as I picked it up. It was a nice bowl, but i didn't see the hype. Esp since it's now a michelin recommended restaurant. I don't think I'd make it a point to go if i went up to norcal.

      Monta - kurume style ramen. I liked this bowl a bit more. It came with half of a medium boiled egg as well. The noodles were somen (or however you say thin noodles?) like shin sen gumi and tsujita, but because we were walking around for awhile looking for a place to sit (seating isn't great for 500+ people), part of the noodles might have overcooked, so it wasn't consistent. The broth had much more flavor than orenchi, I finished the whole thing.

      Shalala - miso ramen. This was an interesting bowl, the chashu was very good, but there was only one piece.. and I had to share.. -_- The noodles were a bit thicker and al dente, very good. The broth, imo, wasn't up to par with the rest of the bowl. It was a bit sweet and kinda made it a savory bowl of ramen, I'm not really used to this type.

      Lastly
      I went to gomaichi, from hawaii. I didn't like this shop for a two reasons:
      #1 Bait n switch - they said they were serving tan tan men, but what was served was more like a ramen salad (mazemen maybe), but there wasn't enough flavor, the noodles were overcooked, and toppings were sparse. No one in my group liked it. I definitely wouldn't make their shop a "destination shop".
      #2 New Local Location - Whats worse, is that they had a mini flier saying they will open a branch in monterey park. So that kind of pissed my group off, as we came from that area. Maybe we would have been ok if they actually served tan tan men, but nope....

      We wanted to try kitakata, but the line was just too long.

      Overall, it was an ok experience. Probably better for people from out of town. The crowds were numerous but the people were very pleasant, and conversations about loving ramen made the lines fly by (still too long though).

      They definitely underestimated the turnout and didn't have a good line management system going. There's a line to get in, then 4+ lines to pay for food, drink, etc tickets, and some are cash only, some debit n credit only.. but people were just scattered everywhere. Then lines for ramen, food, water, etc. There were also no places to sit, esp since some people saved an entire table for their group.. so you had big empty tables with 2 people.. and dozens of people crowding trying to sit down. It was a little awkward.

      I'd say this is similar to when the 626 night market first started in pasadena, but with less infrastructure issues.

      We were thinking about just going to the actual shops since they were nearby (iroha, hayatemaru, jidaiya) and we haven't tried them yet. but in the end, we were a bit overwhelmed by the people and lines, so just ended up heading back.

       
       
       
       
       
       
       
       
      9 Replies
      1. re: blimpbinge
        d
        dreamcast18 Sep 14, 2013 02:59 PM

        Damn..look at the lines! Me and my buds decided to skip it after watching that ramen burger video. Looks like you have to bring your own foldable chairs.

        Even though Sun Noodles started in HNL, i had yet to have real good ramen here in HNL. Had not tried gomaichi since they are in the same location as other fantastic sushi joints near Ala Moana.

        1. re: dreamcast18
          blimpbinge Sep 14, 2013 03:19 PM

          I don't really want to make a determination on gomaichi so early, I'll wait for the shop to open up. Though the first impression is not great.

        2. re: blimpbinge
          TripleAxel Sep 14, 2013 04:39 PM

          Surprisingly, some of my foodie friends said that Silverlake Ramen was excellent for a local ramen place.

          1. re: blimpbinge
            Tripeler Sep 14, 2013 06:09 PM

            Good job on the report, and the photos are great. Thank you!

            1. re: blimpbinge
              r
              raizans Sep 15, 2013 07:03 AM

              i'm making a day of it. 7am and nobody is here.

              1. re: raizans
                r
                raizans Sep 15, 2013 04:15 PM

                ok, i partnered up with a couple more early birds and tried kitakata, orenchi, and ikemen's otafuku ramen burger. later, i swung by monta and tsujita which had very short lines.

                the standouts were kitakata and tsujita. both had good noodles, chashu, and soup. the ramen burger tasted like okonomiyaki, and the "bun" was squishy. why is this thing popular?

                getting in early helped a lot. kitakata was the only stand that had a long line once you got in, but the line outside went around the building to the tv station and it was barely moving.

                1. re: raizans
                  n
                  ns1 Sep 15, 2013 04:21 PM

                  All of us hounds want to know...how was the ramen burger?

                  1. re: ns1
                    r
                    raizans Sep 15, 2013 05:48 PM

                    it was ok. the texture was not unpleasant or anything.

              2. re: blimpbinge
                j
                Jase Sep 16, 2013 08:24 PM

                We showed up at the same time, got through the line to the entrance pretty fast, around 20 minutes. Problem was the completely disorganized and glacial slow food ticket lines. The people manning the booths acted like they've never handled money before. Despite the fact that runners were going down the line asking you how many tickets you wanted, marking it down on a slip that had the total. All you had to do was turn the slip over and the cash. But the cashier would look at each slip like it was something brand new and then slowly hand it over to someone behind them. Who in turn would look at the slip in puzzlement before slowly counting out the tickets to hand to the cashier. In the meantime, the cashier would break a sweat trying to figure out change from the cash handed over. The Pink's line is a model of efficiency compared to these guys.

                Despite all that, we managed to get four bowls, ate and was out of there in about over two and a half hours.

                We wanted to try Kitakata too but way too long, easily two plus hours.

                Agree about being pissed off at Gomaichai. Noodles were way too mushy, bland with no flavor at all from any sesame or any other seasoning.

                We liked Shalala, I actually liked the savoriness of the broth and the noodles. Thought the cha-su was only okay.

                Also tried Tsujita's cold noodles in the sardine broth since they were touting it as an event only special. I liked it, good consistency in the noodles but the broth was a little strong for me. I don't know if I could eat a regular portion. It would definitely be more of a small side appetizer dish for me.

                Finally we were getting tired of the crowds and increasing long lines and went for Iroha's mapo bowl. I thought it was a little heavy on the chili oil, the spiciness threw the balance of the flavors off.

                I usually avoid going to first time food fests and sort of feel I should have listened to my instincts. But also thought by getting there early we would at least avoid the worst of it. If I had arrived later, I would have been pissed and probably just left. Even if they only had a third of the crowd, the layout and organization was very poor. I doubt if I'll go to future ones unless they have some very compelling offerings and I could trust them to be better organized.

              3. m
                mitsuokbs Sep 12, 2013 07:11 PM

                Go early there will be a ton of people waiting in lines. The key would be to get a group of your friends in each ramen line and share. The size of each ramen is 1/3 - 2/3 of a normal size. They said they can serve a ton of people but it will be jammed pack. See: http://www.japanese-city.com/calendar...

                1. c
                  chowseeker1999 Aug 23, 2013 10:23 AM

                  looking at the list of attendees, while i think it'll be cool for someone not familiar and wanting to check it out... for "new experiences" that we can't get here, isn't there only a couple that are different from what we can normally get around the city anyways?

                  8 Replies
                  1. re: chowseeker1999
                    wienermobile Aug 23, 2013 10:25 AM

                    I have heard the local places will be making specials that are not on their regular menus. We'll see.

                    1. re: wienermobile
                      c
                      chowseeker1999 Aug 23, 2013 11:00 AM

                      ah i see. yah i just saw the other link. although it also said that portions will be 1/2 to 1/3(!) of the normal ramen size (which is good for tasting), but selling at $8 per bowl now sounds a bit exorbitant. i look forward to people's report back on it.

                      1. re: chowseeker1999
                        FallingLeaves Sep 3, 2013 06:38 AM

                        Agreed.
                        $8.00 for 1/2 or otherwise smaller portions is way exorbitant.
                        This pricing will favor out-of-town venders.
                        To encourage business for all, all venders should serve regular portions at the regular price.
                        Then it will be perfect for group of 4 or more to participate in sharing/tasting venture and create more business for all vendors and a better experience for ramen eater/tasters.
                        Besides competitive eaters, not many regular folks can down more than 3-4 bowls of half-sized ramen in a day? There are twelves options to choose from!
                        Alternatively, smaller tasting portions from each venders for $2-4 each would be more user friendly.

                        1. re: FallingLeaves
                          b
                          barryc Sep 3, 2013 08:11 AM

                          hard to say what a fair price is, since we have no idea of what their fixed costs are, especially for the out of town vendors. besides travel expenses, time and some degree of lost income, they have to cook and i doubt that the venue has that equipment on site; that will have to be rented. whatever foodstuffs they have to purchase here in LA may cost more, then there's transportation expenses for what they might bring with them.

                          if one chooses to sample only the local vendors, then it may seem pricey, but one is also paying for the convenience(? - fighting who knows how many other patrons) of having all the vendors in one location, saving one's self a lot of travel time, etc.

                          people know the price point in advance, and they can vote with their feet.

                          1. re: FallingLeaves
                            n
                            ns1 Sep 3, 2013 10:37 AM

                            "Then it will be perfect for group of 4 or more to participate in sharing/tasting venture and create more business for all vendors and a better experience for ramen eater/tasters.
                            Besides competitive eaters, not many regular folks can down more than 3-4 bowls of half-sized ramen in a day? There are twelves options to choose from!"

                            not many people can bring 3 friends to participate in ramen tastings.

                            1. re: ns1
                              b
                              barryc Sep 3, 2013 11:40 AM

                              really? i've put together a small group of people who do lunch every friday in the SGV. not everyone shows up every week, but for something like the ramen festival in torrance, i can put together a foursome pretty easily. we had a foursome for the mitsuwa event in torrance earlier this year. it's just a matter of cultivating friends who share the same culinary interests.

                              1. re: barryc
                                n
                                ns1 Sep 3, 2013 12:00 PM

                                You and how many other groups of 4?

                                Now compare that number to groups of 2.

                            2. re: FallingLeaves
                              TripleAxel Sep 3, 2013 01:55 PM

                              The event runs all day. Perhaps one can loiter about in between bowls? I, myself, can easily down 4 or 5 1/2 bowls at 1 sitting.... :-P

                      2. J.L. Aug 23, 2013 12:13 AM

                        Jase scooped you on this a week ago...

                        http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/913383

                        1. f
                          FoodObsessive Aug 22, 2013 06:48 PM

                          Thanks for posting this - I'm going!

                          1. PeterCC Aug 22, 2013 05:32 PM

                            TonyC's article on Eater: http://la.eater.com/archives/2013/08/...

                            I will definitely be checking it out!

                            1. o
                              Ogawak Aug 22, 2013 03:48 PM

                              I'll be away on vacation that weekend. Sorry to miss it..

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