I bought a LivingSocial deal for a six course omakase lunch at Morimoto Napa for my boyfriend’s birthday; the deal ran me $150.00. I easily made reservations on OpenTable and was more than excited to try out this restaurant. I grew up watching the original Iron Chef series as well as Iron Chef America, and Morimoto has always been my favorite iron chef, ask anyone who knows me! I even have a stuffed penguin named after him. His style of cooking is so clean and simple, yet beautifully artistic and (now I know) beyond delicious. I was ecstatic that this deal came up so that I could finally try his cuisine and fulfill one of my life-long desires!
Izakaya Akatora recently opened up by one of Alhambra’s most prominent intersections, Main Street and Garfield Avenue. Established by Michael Cardenas, a prominent LA restaurateur who has other Japanese-inspired ventures sprinkled throughout LA, this is a Japanese pub-themed restaurant with a good selection of quintessential Japanese dishes alongside more modern dishes.
Benten has become Golden Deli’s new neighbor! Located in the same plaza as the original Golden Deli, this new ramen shop opened up within the past year and has gained some popularity. It’s a quaint little restaurant with a menu to match. I have never seen a ramen shop that boasts only four different types of ramen on their menu, along with a few appetizers and complementary roobois tea.
Fujin Ramen is always busy no matter when I go. I frequent this restaurant whenever I’m in the area and also recommend it to friends when they’re in the area as well. It’s located in the same plaza as the HK market, where a small Indonesian food court exists adjacent to it. I’ve never had to wait too long for a table, however, the service there can sometimes be hit or miss.
Men Oh Tokushima was one of the 10 Best Ramen Shops of Los Angeles as listed by LaWeekly. It’s one of those restaurants located in Little Tokyo, but not in the part of Little Tokyo most tourists would walk through. Like many places in Little Tokyo, you have to pay for to park in the same plaza. My company and I parked in a different part of Little Tokyo and made our way to the restaurant.
Ramen Hayatemaru prides itself with serving the best Hokkaido style ramen, with its specialty ingredients straight from Hokkaido, Japan. They serve ramen noodles made from goma (ごま) seeds and Okuhara sauces from their factory in Hokkaido. It seems like a lot of effort for such a small, hole-in-the wall over on the Westside, but their efforts are not in vain. I still dream about their flavorful ramen and can’t wait to go back.
Ramen Yukinoya in Arcadia is one of three of Ramen Yukinoya stores located all around Los Angeles. I cannot begin to tell you how many times I’ve driven past this place on the way to the 99 Ranch Market in Arcadia. It never really caught my eye, due to its humble appearance from the outside. But I finally gave this place a chance.
Off the Grid is a a food truck experience more so than anything. I first stumbled on this event on Yelp, essentially a food truck market held once at a week at Fort Mason Center, which was once a military port.
Now I must admit, I’ve never been too fond of food trucks (especially those of the bourgeois sort), and Off the Grid didn’t really change my general opinion of them. Granted, there were a lot of interesting dishes I ended up having, given the sheer volume of trucks present on site.
I’ve come here before, it’s not a cheap place, but the quality of food is well worth the price. You can check out their menu and make reservations beforehand, because they do get quite crowded on weeknights and weekends. We made a reservation to come at 6pm on a Sunday and they called us a day before to confirm the time. We were promptly seated upon arrival and was very well taken care of throughout the night. The waiters and waitresses are all extremely friendly and cheerful, and will help you when you have no idea what you’re looking at on the menu. Most of their food is fusion Japanese, and I definitely recommend checking out the special items menu, since those change from season to season.
There is not much to say about this famous ramen place. It’s one of the best ones I’ve ever had! The broth of the Orenchi Ramen was SO delicious and flavorful, it really just speaks for itself. Noodles were just the right texture, chewy but not tough, and not at all soggy. They give you a jar of crushed garlic at your table, so you can add as much as you want…I added a lot, and it really enhanced the flavor of the soup for me. We also ordered Karaage, which was very crispy and juicy inside, and their special french fries, which had a special sauce on it and bonito flakes. Everything was delicious…please just enjoy the photos and try it for yourself. I hear sometimes the wait is over an hour, but luckily we went on a Sunday evening and it wasn’t too bad, my friend got there first and put our names down, total wait time was approximately 30 minutes.
CoCo Ichibanya is one of Japan’s biggest food brand names. For instance, it’s won the endorsement of Japanese idol Mariko Shinoda of AKB48 fame. From its small beginnings, Coco Ichibanya has now become a huge international chain, with franchises throughout Asia and a few sprinkled in the States as well.
AC and I decided to check out the closest branch to my home, off the 60 Freeway at the Fullerton Rd. exit. CoCo is located deep within Diamond Plaza, past Kula, a revolving sushi bar (also part of a Japan-based chain).
The restaurant was spotless, almost spartan-like. We were seated promptly and given plenty of time to go through the extensive menu. CoCo’s menu (much like Curry House’s) is quite long, consisting of Japanese appetizers (e.g. potato croquettes) and different customizations (toppings, rice portions, and spice level).
We opted for one lunch set (curry plate, drink and salad for $1.50 more) and one entree. The waitress was kind enough to upgrade our drinks to iced coffee, even though the default drink for that set is iced tea. The salad, which included the usual greens: romaine and red lettuce, julienned carrots and corn, was pretty petite. But the provided salad dressing (roasted sesame!) was remarkably delicious. :Q___ I wasn’t surprised to find that they actually bottle that dressing and sell it separately, cos it’s good stuff.
The fried squid and clam curry was pretty decent. The sauce was well-seasoned and spicier than we presumed it would be. The squid rings looked like onion rings from afar, but I found it strange to be eating such a rubbery meat with curry.
The pork katsu curry was mouthwatering to look at and a delight to eat. The pork cutlet was perfectly fried and breaded with Panko crumbs. The meat was still tender and juicy inside.
Verdict: CoCo > Curry House, in both price and quality. It’s made me rethink my opinion of Japanese curry (I’m a bit of a snob when it comes to curry.)
Also, ask for a stamp card while you’re there! 10 stamps to get a free curry.
1380 Fullerton Road
Rowland Heights, CA 91748
This post is long overdue. Over the New Year, two of my friends, JC and IC, drove up to LA. We grabbed dinner at Ojiya in Hacienda Heights, a Japanese restaurant-bar specializing in yakitori (grilled skewers). Ojiya is actually a chain of restaurants, each having its own specialty.
Let’s head to our last stop on my Asia food adventure in Japan! The food scene in Japan was just so amazing. You can tell that the Japanese people take a lot of pride in their food and definitely see it as an art. Every piece of food that they make, they present it with great care. I felt almost guilty every time I bought something, because they always wrapped it so neatly, like a present, even if it’s just one dango or bread.
This beautiful presentation definitely contrasts the food culture that was seen in Thailand, in which food and even drinks were packaged in plastic bags.
One of the things that our tour leaders mentioned to us on our first day in Japan was that there’s a large food scene underground in Japan. I never would have expected to see markets in subway stations and just stores of food lined up for miles. It’s better than any food court I’ve visited here in the states, and definitely cleaner than any fast food place you would find in a public transportation area. My mom and I wanted to visit Shibuya station before our afternoon flight, so we headed there in the early morning. Shibuya station is famous for something. Do you know what?
Hachiko! If you don’t know the story of Hachiko, I will just sum it up. It is a story about the love between a dog and his master. Hachiko would always wait at the subway station at the end of each day to greet his master. However, one day the master suffered from a heart attack and died. Hachiko waited at the subway station every day for his master to return until he, himself died. There is a statue that has been erected at Shibuya station and you can take a picture with it. It was so much fun finding Hachiko at Shibuya Station 🙂
You can definitely tell that the Japanese food scene caters to the commuter populations. One of the most distinctive differences between each country I visited on my Asia trip was the difference between the major means of transportation each country relies on. Hands down, Indonesia has the worst traffic ever. Don’t expect to get anywhere unless you’re driving at 4am or in the wee hours of the night. Thailand also had terrible traffic, but not as bad as Indonesia. Singapore has a wonderful subway system and bus system. It was quite easy to get around. In Japan, their subway system is their main form of transportation aside from walking. Every morning, I would go out to the local Family Mart or McDonalds to pick up some breakfast before our tours, and would see hoards of people walking and crossing the streets and running to their platforms at the subway stations.
These underground subway station food vendors are definitely a means to make food more accessible for people on the go.
So, as many of my friends know, I am a huge fan of Hello Kitty. Seeing Hello Kitty everywhere was the highlight of my trip. Before I left Japan, I was able to come across the most amazing treat! It definitely was the cherry on top of my trip. It was the most amazing find at Shibuya station.
I came across Hello Kitty pastries! That’s right, you heard me… Hello Kitty chocolate and custard filled pastries! It was the most amazing find! We bought only 10, because it was quite pricey. I had intended on bringing it back with me to the states, but we ended up eating it all by the time we reached the airport 😦
Let me tell you something…. these Hello Kitty pastries were absolutely delicious! We purchased two flavors: chocolate and custard. It’s very similar to the red bean and custard filled wheel cakes. However, the batter is lighter and crunchier. I loved the chocolate filled Hello Kitty, because there are little pieces of crunchy chocolate inside. The custard had a nice light, sweet flavor, with a smooth consistency.
My Japan adventure was a short one! It was a really expensive one as well! If you plan on going to Japan only, I feel as though you should be prepared to spend a hefty amount of money on food, transportation, and tours. I felt the tours was a great investment, since we hit a lot of the hot spots over the course of the day and was able to see so much. I would love to come back to Japan one day, but definitely I’ll have to be prepared to spend a lot of money once again.
I hope you guys enjoyed my recaps on my Asia food adventure!
If you have any suggestions of places I should visit next and food I should try, please comment below or shoot me an email 🙂
We continue on with our Asia food adventure with Japan! My mom and I arrived in Japan at night on the 4th of July. We were flying back to the U.S on the 7th, so realistically, we had 2 days to travel around Japan. I had anticipated that Japan was going to be costly, but I did not realize how costly. I think within the first 24 hours of being in Japan, we spent $500 on transportation, tours, meals, very small souvenirs, and a few snacks. Insane!
Our hotel wasn’t located within Tokyo. It was too much to stay in Tokyo, so we stayed in Shinjuku. The Narita airport is actually quite far from the city. It took about 2 hours to get to Shinjuku via bus, with only one 5 minute stop. We arrived pretty late at night, but were extremely hungry. We decided to venture from our hotel to see what was in the area. We stumbled upon a ramen shop next to our hotel.
Let me just say, this was the most amazing find! It was so convenient to have this near our hotel. We actually came back to eat here twice! The ramen was the cheapest thing we had throughout our Japan trip. The ramen was around $10 each person, which was a lot cheaper than the other meals we came across.
Also, I’d like to mention, that no other ramen I’ve ever had compares to the ramen I had in Japan. It was so amazing! Gah, I miss it so much! The noodles are cooked aldente, but has a wonderful texture and flavor to this. The spicy miso broth had a nice thickness too it, but not too thick. The soy sauce ramen was light and full of flavor, topped with bean sprouts and chau siu.
I was in heaven!
My cousin once asked me if I’ve ever eaten food that touched my soul– the kind of food that makes the world go silent, and there is nothing else but you and that moment of happiness. In that moment, no one is talking. They just eat with joy. As my cousin said, “life is simple, you eat and then you’re happy.” I love that he said that and I totally agree with that statement! And I must say, that this ramen… definitely touched my soul.
I don’t think I was disappointed at all with Japan’s food. Everything tasted amazing..even the McDonald’s.. haha. During one of the days, we took a full tour of Tokyo. We visited the Tokyo Tower, the Imperial Palace, the Meiji Shrine, and so much more. It was definitely worth taking the tour as opposed to traveling around by ourselves, especially considering that we got to see so many different locations over a limited amount of time. We wouldn’t have been able to do it ourselves.
Although we were in Japan for a limited amount of time, my mom and I were quite excited by the food scene in Japan and took a lot of pictures of different types of food. So I’m going to continue on with my Japan trip recap on another post.