Misadventures with Miso

Misadventures with Miso

Friday, September 11, 2015

Flashing Back to Tai Sho Ken

I admit I became a little spoiled by enjoying some of the good ramen in Southern California. After moving north I made an effort to find places that served ramen. So when Ramen Tai Sho Ken opened up I stopped in for lunch back in 2012. Looking at the menu was interesting. They offered a couple types of ramen and the rest was Korean dishes.

But I stuck to my plan and ordered a bowl of their Miso Ramen. It arrived with rice balls which were pretty good and a small bowl of kimchi. The ramen looked decent but under the bits of toppings and all those bean sprouts was a lot of cabbage. The thing about cabbage is it has a lot of water in it. Which is why I don't advise putting it in ramen. Along with the bean sprouts this was a rather sad bowl of cabbage soup. However it seemed like the Korean dishes were liked by the diners around me so the place had that going for it.

Maybe they should had dropped the ramen signs and gone with being a Korean restaurant. Because Tai Sho Ken didn't last a year. However the place isn't vacant. Hakatamon which use to be located at Uwajimaya Beaverton moved into this spot at 3486 SW Cedar Hills Blvd, Beaverton, OR 97005. Which is the better of the two restaurants.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

A Surprise from Miyabi Tei

As you can tell from my blog I spend a bit of time visiting Mitsuwa Torrance and their food court. While I tried something from almost every food vendor one that we ate at more often was Miyabi Tei.

Usually I would order one of their bento or a rice bowl don. The boyfriend would always get their katsu curry. He's obsessed with curry to be honest. However one day I was by myself and decided to try their Shoyu Ramen.

While it wasn't an impressive bowl I will say it wasn't bad either. Toppings were minimal but the noodles were nice and the broth was not overly salty and had decent flavor that wasn't too strong or weak. I realize most people prefer Santouku for ramen there but the one time I tried it there were grains of spices and garlic in the bottom as if the seasoning packet didn't dissolve all the way. Since all this was back in 2012 I can't speak for how things are there now. But even now I'd eat Miyabi Tei's ramen before Santouku's at the Torrance Mitsuwa.

I don't know if I have photos from other meals at Miyabi Tei. If I do I will post those. In the meantime, Miyabi Tei is located inside Mitsuwa at 21515 S. Western Avenue
Torrance, CA 90501. There are other good places to eat in there along with Hamada-Ya Bakery which has a lot of delicious baked goods. I wish they would open here in Oregon.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

And Then There Was Kukai

I was really looking forward to Kukai Ramen and Izakaya opening a place in Beaverton, Oregon. So much so that I was doing searches online and asking the company when they would open. Never heard from them. But when a friend mentioned they were finally ready and taking reservations for a soft opening I didn't hesitate to put my name in. I was ready for the area to have another good ramen shop to eat at.

Their menu looked interesting with a variety of ramen and other items offered.

My seat at the counter gave me a good view of the open part of the kitchen.

Much has been said about their decor. A bit of effort was put in such as the mural and hanging temple bells.

At the front entrance was what would be their nicely decorated bar once they obtained their liquor license.
 
The items were shipped over from Japan including these paper lanterns.

I started with their vegetable gyoza. Decent but I was expecting a little spice or other flavor inside them. Still not bad.

I went with the Miso Ramen. Which took some time to come out. The restaurant had a number of customers but wasn't busy thanks to the reservations. The other thing I noticed was it was pretty spicy. I asked because there are two versions on the menu, traditional and spicy. I asked and was told they did not even have any spicy prepared. I realize that some miso is spicy however this was up there on the heat scale. I have not tried this again so I don't know if it was just a mistake or not.

Since I wanted to try their Yuzu-Shio Ramen a return visit happened about a month later. I went at the start of lunch and was seated at the counter again.

I really liked this ramen. The yuzu was a nice counterpoint to the saltiness of the broth and refreshing in the hot weather we were having. I didn't like that it took at least twenty minutes to get me the piece of chashu that I ordered with the ramen. It was served a bit after I received my bowl.

Also bothersome was not long after that but well before I was done I was given the check. Made me feel like I was being pushed out of the door since there was a line of people waiting to be seated. Not my fault it took a long time getting my food. The server also tried to take my bowl before I was finished.

Still I was willing to try one more time to see if things were better or that what happened before was a fluke. So not long ago I stopped in at the start of dinner. Once again I was seated at the counter with a view of pots steaming. Seeing this made me anticipate my dinner. Although now looking at the photo it appears there's a bit of food spilled on the stove...

Since they now were serving beer and sake I ordered a glass of Asahi which they have on tap. I have to say this was the best part of my meal.

This time I went for the vegatable ramen since I would love to find a decent vegetarian ramen. The bowl looked interesting. The broth is shiitaki mushroom and kelp flavored with soy milk and ground sesame seeds. The toppings were seasoned with a little spice which was not a bad idea for this type of ramen.

They use Sun Noodles and the ones on top were looking pretty fine.

I added a soft boiled egg. Which was a good idea since eating this ramen was like drinking warm soy milk. I could barely taste sesame and there was no flavor of shiitake or kelp at all.

The bowl was packed with noodles. I wondered if it was just the vegetarian but in reviews I saw someone had this problem with the chicken. Along with the dish being mostly noodles was the fact that the noodles were not stirred while being cooked which resulted in clumps of them stuck together. This bowl was so bad I had to stop half way and when the server asked if I wanted a container I told him no.

Speaking of the service, also really lacking. I was seated at the counter (if you go alone or with two people they don't want to seat you at tables which is too bad). I sat there waiting to order while watching food go out to people who were seated at tables at the same time as I was. Finally a guy came over and asked me if anyone had taken my order. He took it and then I waited some more. A different person brought me my beer. Another person brought me my ramen. No one ever asked me if I wanted anything else. Finally the first server asked me if I wanted a container and then left the check. The whole time I was there he only said those three things. No one asked me how my food was. No one said thank you either.

So I can not recommend Kukai Ramen and Izakaya in Beaverton, Oregon. I have read some people had decent food and service at the tables but the reviews for service at the counter reflect my experiences. Sad because people sitting there are customers too. Also there seems to be quality control problems with the food that is being served not just with what I had but other people have mentioned in online reviews. Honestly I would not have gone back three times with most places. I really wanted this place to do well. But I can not say that it is. I was really disappointed.

At least there are other places to get ramen in the area and I do suggest giving some of theme a try if you are there and feeling the desire for a bowl of ramen.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Ramen Yamadaya

Starting off with something from a few years ago. Walking into this place one might not think the food would be that good.

However sitting down to a bowl of Tonkotsu Ramen might change one's mind. Those just right thin noodles playing coy in the tempting broth.

Along with better than average toppings. This was not an average bowl of ramen at all.

So of course one has to go back to try more.

Add in an extra egg.

Check out other bowls like Tonkotsu Kukuni or Tonkotsu Shoyu.

Or extra pork toppings.

Forgive me for not remembering what each bowl was. Because there were more than a few eaten at this place. Each one just as good as the first bowl.

But why just stick to ramen?

When one can have pretty good gyoza.

Plus a bowl or two of Tsukemen.

But who would think a place that looks like this would be one of the better ramen restaurants in Southern California?

Jin Yamada's first Ramen Yamadaya. Don't let appearances fool you, there's a lot going on in this little restaurant. All those positive reviews out there? I have to agree, this is one of the better ramen going on. Consistent and good flavor maybe because they keep it simple here.

The Torrance Ramen Yamadaya is located at 3118 W.182nd St. in California. They have other locations also in California. I hope some day they expand outside of the state. The Ramen Yamadaya website is here if you want more information.

Monday, September 7, 2015

A Ramen Retrospective

With cooler weather finally happening in the area it makes me want to eat soup. Of course that includes ramen. So I thought I would put together a week of ramen posts. First up are a few places that I already wrote about.

Torrance and Gardena in California have a number of ramen restaurants. I tried a few and here is a review of a place that isn't there any more. Too bad because Mottainai Ramen was pretty good.


Another place in Gardena happens to be located in Marukai on Artesia Blvd., which is a great Japanese Grocery. A funky little food court has a couple places to eat including The Express.


Not too far from Marukai is Mitsuwa, another favorite Japanese Market. I really enjoyed the food fairs they would put on, especially when they had chefs come over from Japan. Here's a few bowls I was lucky to try including the best miso ramen I've ever eaten.

As for what is good in Oregon? I hope to have a few posts about a couple places I've tried here. Meanwhile here's a look at Yuzu, which is still my favorite ramen shop in Oregon.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Things We Won't Be Able to See This Fall

Water flowing down to a cold pond below.

Stones standing in the early setting sun.

 Colorful trees standing tall over a stream filled with koi.

 A stairway stretching before us.

 An empty tea house.

 A moon bridge bereft of people.

A flat garden cloaked in color.

And the bones of a famous tree.

Photographs of the Portland Japanese Garden taken November, 2012 by me.


Friday, September 4, 2015

Just a Little Moonstruck Chocolate Today

 Last of the summer blackberry truffle clownfish on a Kurumi Conley plate.

Since it's been a cat week for me I picked up an extra-bittersweet black cat truffle. Which is on a Hajime Okamoto Urume cat plate that I bought at the Portland Japanese Garden a while ago.

In case you are interested, Moonstruck Chocolate's website is here.