As much as I love food, I am not usually the one to drive hours and hours for it (I may wait in a long line because I’m a culinary ambulance chaser but driving is a different story altogether). My boyfriend, however, is, so I was not surprised when he asked me to go to Hokkaido with him for a bowl of ramen. Thank goodness Hokkaido came to Torrance this weekend, instead of us having to fly over to the northernmost island of Japan.
When we got to Mistuwa Market, one of the hosts of Hokkaido Gourmet Food Fair (others were at its Costa Mesa and San Diego locations), at around 11:30 a.m., we made a beeline to Ramen Shingen for the limited edition, salt-flavored ramen. The line was about seven people deep when we arrived and by the time we started eating, the line had extended all the way to the other end, about 30 people! Although I am not a huge fan of ramen, particularly shio ramen, I found this to be pretty refreshing with light broth and thick noodles. And the fatty chashu was out of this world. (You can see more yummy pictures at Keizo’s blog here, at Go Ramen.)
My boyfriend could have been happy with the bowl of ramen, but my day was not going to be complete until I explored all the other delicious offerings. Right after lunch, and after grabbing several fish cakes and croquettes from the deli sections to take home for dinner, we walked over to the other side for crepe. The price was pretty steep at $5.00 a pop (for something that takes 25 cents to make) but I was happy with the green tea crepe that had whipped cream (Hokkaido is known for wonderful milk products and although I don’t like whipped cream in general, this one was different in a very luscious way), a good chunk of sweet anko (red bean paste) and a sprinkle of green tea power wrapped in air thin, chewy crepe dough. It was fun watching the crepe maker busy at work!
The highlight of the day, for me, was definitely the freshly made Shiro Taiyaki. Regular yaikyaki (translates to “baked bream,” because of the shape) is made out of yellow waffle-like batter but this special, Hokkaido kind was made out of rice flour, which gave it a more sticky and chewy texture, like mochi. For a die-hard mochi and anko lover, this one made my eyes roll backward.
In addition, we enjoyed ohagi, sweet mochi rice wrapped in anko (which was absolutely divine), curry pan (fried bread with velvety Japanese curry in the middle) and vanilla and French pear soft serve ice creams which added the delicious exclamation point to this wonderfully satisfying afternoon in Hokkaido. 🙂