Waiting for friends in front of Pacific Theaters Culver City to watch Inception. Incidentally, it’s the only movie I’ve seen in the theaters all year and was worth every penny.
I don’t know what it is about brick buildings that I adore. It just seems like the walls could whisper so many untold stories. It’s also where the munchkins stayed while filming the Wizard of Oz.
Father’s Office II to wait out traffic. It never ceases to amaze me how many people don’t work during the day. We arrived at 4:30 and the place was packed. Maybe they’re all teachers….
this is what happens when you only want to “take a look” at a new ramen shop.
and you take pictures with your phone instead.
Mottainai Ramen opened only a couple of weeks ago and is already receiving quite a buzz in the area. Found in the once bustling Japanese-centric Marukai Plaza, it is nearly hidden from street view. It resides in a dark corner across from Fukagawa. The location is unfortunate as there is no indication of the restaurant anywhere and I had to walk around the plaza in order to even find the place. There is ample parking, provided it is not a Sunday when the church across the street tends to use much of the parking lot.
Walking into the place, I was instantly greeted. The staff is extremely young, energetic and attentive. I was looked upon by more than one person throughout my meal. My server didn’t really speak English, so in my very broken Japanese I was able to relay my order. It’s times like those that I wish I took more from my Japanese school days…
The menu is fairly straightforward with three offerings: shoyu, miso, and tonkotsu. For an additional $1.50 you can add a small side salad and musubi. The prerequisite gyoza is also on the menu, however, I felt it was a little much for lunch.
In addition to the regular ramen, you can enhance them with their signature magic “alpha” and “bombs”. If you like stir fried corn and butter, the alpha is your thing. The white bomb is essential a ball of garlic-y pork fat and was meant to accompany the tonkotsu ramen. The red bomb is the spicy ball, which would probably be fantastic in the miso.
For some reason, I tried the shoyu ramen. It’s not that I don’t like shoyu, I just never tend to order it over other types of ramen. And, since I’m no shoyu ramen aficionado like Keizo, I really don’t have any frame of reference. The bowl came out steaming hot and included several slices of chashu, menma, green onions and a piece of nori. It was wonderfully satisfying, if a bit oily, though I heard this can be altered to your preference. The chashu was fantastic, flavorful and not at all chewy. I’d go back just for a couple of pieces of that.
I’m on a mission to go back and try their other two bowls. This may become my new favorite…..Mottainai Ramen 1630 West Redondo Beach Boulevard, Suite 9 Gardena, California 90247
shave ice. from the place that hasn’t changed since the 40s.
or maybe it has, who knows. you can’t tell.
and that’s a VERY good thing.
No, it’s not that crunchy ground ice stuff they call ‘snow cones’. Nor is it a ‘slushie’ or ‘slurpie’. Shave ice, not shaved ice, is a mound of finely shaven ice that, when done correctly, is creamy and fluffy to the tongue. Waiola’s gets it right.
In an unassuming residential neighborhood of Honolulu, Waiola’s is actually a corner market, selling convenience store goods. It doesn’t have the greatest of curb appeal, but where it’s lacking in design, it makes up twofold in pure food bliss. And, on a hot day, nothing is as good as eating this delightfully cooling treat.
Shave Ice with Condensed Milk…don’t remember the flavor
Basically, you go up to the window and choose your flavor(s), toppings and any add-ons. Then, you wait. Oh, the waiting. That’s the worse part. Especially when you hear the ice machine whirling and teasing you with sounds of ice being cut into perfectly fine shreds of, um, ice.
Shave Ice with Ice Cream (on the bottom)
Once your name is called, you can sit down on the benches lining the side of the store. It does get fairly crowded, but the line goes quickly, as does the shave ice. My method to eating is bite first and when it starts to melt, use the straw. Finally, the spoon comes in to shovel up the ice cream and remaining slush. I still remember as a little kid trying to eat the shave ice as fast as possible so it wouldn’t melt. Inevitably, however, my arms would become a sticky mess with fruity syrup dripping down my arms. Yup, happiness was measured in stickiness.
I usually go with the POG (passion-orange-guava), but really, I haven’t had anything I haven’t liked here. Their syrup is not too sweet, unlike some other places, which is key. I also always get ice cream with my cone. It sounds odd, given you’re eating flavored ice, but the combination is undeniably tasty. Another good add-on is azuki beans, which are the sweetened red beans used to fill mochi.
I know you usually hear about the North Shore shops when it comes to shave ice, but I’ve left my heart at Waiola’s. A little dingy. A little beat up. A lot of character.Waiola’s Shave Ice 2135 Waiola Avenue Honolulu, HI 96805 Open: 8:00-6:00 daily
I confess. I want an iPad. To say that it’s an unnecessary expense is an understatement, especially considering I already use three Apple products on a daily basis. Really though, who actually needs the thing? Nobody. But, it’s so pretty.
Steve Jobs, you’re a genius.
fresh udon + curry = match made in heaven
Oumi Sasaya is a small restaurant specializing in udon located in the same plaza as Patisserie Chantilly and Gaja Okonomiyaki. Although lesser known than its udon counterparts (Sanuki no Sato and Kotohira), its simple yet straightforward dishes make it a contender for top udon in the south bay.
Oddly enough, I hadn’t even heard of Oumi Sasaya up until a few months ago. I had passed it countless times on my way to Gaja, but never gave it a fleeting thought. I also tended to avoid the little plaza as it tends to get extremely crowded at peak hours, so this place never was an option. However, one early Tuesday afternoon, I happened upon an almost empty parking lot and restaurant.
The menu is straight forward with a short list of udon, bowls, and appetizers. As it was lunch, I decided on curry udon with tempura shrimp and mochi and a soft boiled egg.
Once my order was taken, I was given a small dish of warm tofu. With just a dash of shoyu, this was a perfectly refreshing way to start the meal.
The restaurant layout was airy and beautiful, with the majority of space taken by an L-shaped counter. It was perfect for watching all of the action in the kitchen. As I was there early, I ended up watching the workers prep. Interestingly enough, many of the workers were women, including the cooks.
Curry Udon with Tempura Shrimp and Mochi
My lunch arrived soon after and it was a sight to behold. A giant earthenware bowl holding the molten broth was set before me. I started taking pictures and realized that I would need to let it cool down even farther. Curry holds in heat like no other and the thought of burning my mouth was not appealing. Its unfortunate because allowing the cool down process also lets the noodles soften. As I like my noodles al dente, I ended up chowing down, losing taste buds in the process.
The house made curry was rich and spicy and a perfect compliment to the udon. I find that sometimes curry becomes watered down in udon and lacks the punch needed to flavor the dish. Not so in this case. I ended up drinking a good majority of it too.
The tempura was well cooked as well. The tempura batter was slightly thicker than most, but held up to the broth/curry well. I’m not usually a big mochi fan when added to meals (okonomiyaki, etc.), but this was really good. It’s rather neutral taste didn’t compete with the already bold flavors in the bowl and added much needed texture to the dish.
Soft Boiled Egg
I love soft boiled eggs. That is all.
I would really like to go back to try their udon sans the curry to make a viable comparison between the other shops of the area. Nonetheless, it is worth a trip if only for the curry udon. Plus, you can go a few doors down and top of the meal with dessert from Patisserie Chantilly.Oumi Sasaya 2383 Lomita Blvd
Lomita, CA 90717