Revisitings: My Most Frequented Restaurants
This is my inaugural post under my new username. Yes, it's the same dorky guy under a new coat of paint. I've been debating the name change pretty much since I started my blog last year, but I finally decided to flip the switch today.
After reading stravaigint's recent thread (http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/922058) recapping his epic meals a few weekends ago (yes, I still owe my reviews of the meals I shared with him at Shunji and Go's Mart), I decided to model this thread after his format by making an initial post and then several sub-posts each covering one restaurant.
This initial post is just to (re)introduce myself under my new username. The sub-posts will be "Revisitings" of a couple of restaurants that I've frequented many, many times in the past few months but haven't updated you all on recently.
I'm starting with Ramen Hayatemaru, but to keep me motivated, I'll commit now to also making sub-posts on Sweet Rose Creamery and on Night+Market for this thread, at the least, in the near future. More to come!
[For larger images w/captions inline with text, go to http://theoffalo.com/2013/11/ramen-hayatemaru-revisitings/.]
According to my “records” I have been to Ramen Hayatemaru over 20 times. Is it my favorite ramen-ya? No, that honor goes to Tsujita ANNEX, but what keeps me going back are two main factors: convenience and cost.
On convenience, while Hayatemaru’s parking lot is small, and nearly half the spots are reserved either for the 7-Eleven or the dry cleaners that share the strip mall, there is almost never a wait there, unlike at Tsujita ANNEX (or the original Tsujita across the street at lunch). On cost, Hayatemaru offers half bowls of ramen starting at $5, and their best regular side dishes (gyoza, zangi, amazu) are all priced at $3.90. It is cash only, but one could have a feast for $10!
 Gyoza (Potstickers) & Amazu (Fried Chicken Chunks w/Ginger & Scallion in Sweet Vinegar) [http://instagram.com/p/eGj0Qjg-ji/]
Of their regular sides, the Amazu is “amazu-ing!” The fried chicken chunks are not too heavily breaded and are crisp on the outside and juicy on the inside. The sauce is like ponzu but with more sweet and sour flavor. The pun at the beginning of this paragraph may have been terrible, but this dish is terrific!
 Amazu (Fried Chicken Chunks w/Ginger & Scallion in Sweet Vinegar) [http://instagram.com/p/c0m4ZaA-m0/]
One other thing that I like about Hayatemaru is that they have been expanding their menu, bringing in seasonal items like cold noodle dishes and adding to their side offerings with chicken wings, egg omelets, fried chicken skin, and more. One of my favorite new items is the Ebiton, which debuted at the Ramen Yokocho Fest in September.
 Ebiton (Shrimp Flavored Pork Ramen) Posters [http://instagram.com/p/e_NiUcA-hD/]
The Ebiton is still a pork-based ramen, but infused with shrimp flavor. It comes with half an egg, either hard or soft boiled depending on your preference, and it is topped with minced dried shrimp and ground pork and two small fried shrimp that you can eat whole, shell and all.
 Ebiton (Shrimp Flavored Pork Ramen) & Crispy Fried Chicken Skin [http://instagram.com/p/gV6-lXg-ii/]
The Ebiton is $9 and unfortunately does not come in half sizes. It’s a little oilier than their other ramen offerings but is still very good! It’s the only ramen I order now at Hayatemaru!
My Previous Posts:
Ramen Hayatemaru on the West Side (http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/892901)
Kotoya vs. Hayatemaru: Ramen Showdown (http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/896285)
Ahem. To get back on-topic, my partner and I tried Hayatemaru for the first time tonight. Amazu very good, but I liked the gyoza better (finally! A place that has gyoza that doesn't taste like it came from the supermarket....).
I'm torn on the ebiton. I like the idea of shrimp + pork. But shrimp flavor was a bit too overpowering, and the broth seemed less "shrimpy" went I hit the bottom of the bowl. I think I liked the regular broth better.
Didn't know I could eat the shrimp whole! I tried peeling it, and what was left was SO gross. Oy.
I'd return, though. Less fatty than Tsujita (sometimes you just don't want your lips to feel like an oil slick) and no wait. Less noisy than SSG (yeah, I get that lusty greetings are part of the experience, but....). And a very sweet server who wasn't completely fluent in English. ;)
Thank you for getting back to the food! I slave away for hours in my hot review kitchen and everyone just wants to talk about my name change! *sob*
Since I really like the shrimp flavor, I don't find it overpowering but I can definitely see how someone else would. Yeah, the shrimp is fried to a crisp so that it can be eaten whole, but I'm sure it reduced the insides into something unrecognizable.
I am a fan, and mostly for the reasons ilysla notes - grease factor manageability, user-friendliness c/w Tsujita, and side-dishes.
Love the Amazu's ginger flavor, but they clearly do not use the greatest cuts/grade of chicken. OTOH , I can hardly expect that when eating a giant bowl for under 4 bucks.
Inexpensive tap beer, too.
By the way, I think TonyC meant to say that neither branch made it onto the top-10 list.
re: Ciao Bob
Thanks for clarifying TonyC's comment. I was wondering if I was misreading it!
I can understand why their ramen isn't necessarily "top rated." There's nothing "outstanding" about it (vs. the intense porkiness of the other ramen broths now available, for example, or really weird flavor combos). It's simply a very good neighborhood joint, and it doesn't try to pass itself off as anything else. And, for me, that's enough for repeat visits (esp at the price point).
Decided to post my Night+Market "Revisitings" outside this thread, here: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/925352. (Don't mind the duplicate post out there right now, I've already flagged it for removal.)
Edit: That's weird, I thought I posted this on the "root" of the comments.
Nothing's wrong with it, but like I said I've actually wanted to change it for over a year. And since I'm still thinking about it a year later, obviously it was something I really wanted to do, and I just decided not to let inertia delay it any longer.
Also, I already made the switch. I think CH mods frown on people going back and forth on their usernames...
[For larger images w/captions inline with text, go to http://theoffalo.com/2013/11/sweet-rose-creamery-revisitings/.]
According to my “records” I have been to Sweet Rose Creamery's Pico location 17 times! I know that already sounds like a lot, but keep in mind SRC Pico only opened a month and a half ago, so I'm averaging nearly 3 visits a week. (Yikes! Can I blame my kids?) In that time, I've tried nearly every flavor that they've offered, either through samples or by having actual servings. I've also tried most of the baked goods from Milo & Olive and some of the coffee drinks by Caffe Luxxe, and they were as good as ever.
 Nonaptych of Offerings from Sweet Rose Creamery Pico [http://instagram.com/p/eq6vp6g-i0/]
In fact, the issue I had with the Pancetta Quiche being too oily the first time I had it (http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/917526) has not reoccurred. However, my favorite baked good is still the Chile Cheese Scone.
 Chile Cheese Scone from Milo & Olive [http://instagram.com/p/fqa2OFg-gw/]
SRC Pico maintains a list of flavors under the "Classics" banner like Salted Caramel, Caffe Luxxe Coffee, and some form of Maggie's Mint with an assortment of chocolate admix (e.g., chips, ripple, Valrhona pearls), which are all still offered, though my younger daughter's favorite, Cookies and Cream, has fallen off the menu in the past few weeks.
 Salted Caramel (sprinkled w/sea salt) & “PB&J” (Kyoho Grape & Peanut Butter) Cones [http://instagram.com/p/e8lvf6g-qR/]
Another highlight, the "PB&J", a twist of their two inaugural soft serve flavors, Kyoho Grape and Peanut Butter, always had a warning attached that the flavors, especially the grape, were a limited time offering. I'm sad to report that the "PB&J" has finally gone away, not to return at least this month, per the staff member I asked this week.
 “PB&J” (Kyoho Grape & Peanut Butter) Soft Serve [http://instagram.com/p/fqZWAOg-t9/]
Some of the newer "Seasonal" flavors introduced since open include Earl Grey, Banana, Gaia Melon (frozen yogurt), Apple (sorbet), and Apricot (sorbet).
 Tetraptych of Images from Sweet Rose Creamery Pico [http://instagram.com/p/fqY_Bzg-tE/]
However, I guess chef Shiho Yoshikawa takes seasonality pretty seriously, as she's already started transitioning away from those selections in favor of more autumnal flavors, such as Brown Sugar Butter Pecan and Spiced Pumpkin. Another new flavor, one of my current favorites, is Honey Stout! On the toppings front, they made Ghost-mallows (my name for them) for Halloween!
 Scoops of Honey Stout, Maggie’s Mint (w/chocolate ripple & a Ghost-mallow), Butter Pecan (w/toasted almonds & fresh whipped cream), Salted Caramel (sprinkled w/sea salt) [http://instagram.com/p/gHfC-CA-tY/]
As mentioned above, SRC Pico finally changed their soft serve flavors just this week, and it may change again soon according to staff. Right now they're making limited batches of Passion Fruit soft serve. The other flavor in the machine is a more pedestrian Chocolate. I decided to be adventurous and try the twist. Not sure that the flavor combination works, but the Passion Fruit soft serve by itself is amazing! Get it while you can!
 Passion Fruit & Chocolate Twist Soft Serve (Runaway Dispenser) [http://instagram.com/p/gUeA86g-rJ/]
My Previous Post:
Sweet Rose Creamery
826 Pico Blvd
Santa Monica, CA 90404
UPDATE: Brought the kids back tonight (see, it really is their fault!) for visit number 18. Flavors are changing left and right. No Honey Stout tonight, but Cookie Dough is a new flavor. Of course, my younger daughter, missing her Cookies and Cream, had to try it, with (I think) a relatively new topping, cocoa nibs. The base has a distinct sweet yet tangy taste of really fresh cream, like in their Cookies and Cream. The cookies were not quite as prominent as I would have liked.
 Cookie Dough Ice Cream w/Cocoa Nibs [http://instagram.com/p/geuZlNg-rY/]
The cocoa nibs were a little too bitter for my younger daughter so I had the "horrible" task of eating it, and any accompanying ice cream that it was embedded in. It's a dirty job, but someone has to do it. ;-)
My older daughter and I shared a Passion Fruit soft serve. No chocolate twist this time. Despite what the workers say behind the counter, that combination still doesn't quite work for me. The Passion Fruit on its own is definitely the way to go!
 Passion Fruit Soft Serve [http://instagram.com/p/geuCB6g-q0/]
Hklbrry knows passion fruit. Can't remember the French name of the pudding dessert they have at Hklbrry but the passion fruit version is FOTW. Marrying that with chocolate? Why? By the by, this TheOffalo name change doesn't work for me, PeterCC. Well, it's fine when you're talkin' meats and such, but TheOffalo talking about sweet fanciful things like ice cream? Eh - I guess it's okay since you're simultaneously pinning the blame on your sweet innocent daughters for your LDL spikes. What next - throwing your wife under the bus for "forging your signature" on the past dozen or so credit card slips at Shunji over the past week? Now that does sound like something some offalo schmuck would pull. ;-)