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Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Mitsuwa - Japanese Gourmet Food Fair 2011

Mitsuwa Market
21515 Western Ave
Torrance, CA 90501

A couple of weeks back, Mitsuwa hosted a "Umaimono Gourmet Fair," which featured Japanese delicacies straight from Japan!
Rice Crackers Booth + Samples
This had "Culinary Adventure" written all over it! Many booths offered free samples, while others showed demos of how their specialties were made.
Utsunomiya Gyoza Tenou Booth + Demo
The thing I was most looking forward to trying was the special ramen offered by Kitahama Shoten, a ramen place from Hakodate, Hokkaido with Chef Hideyuki Haniu.
Kitahama Shoten Ramen Booth
KITAHAMA SHOTEN SHIRO MISO RAMEN: I'm actually not a big miso ramen person (I prefer tonkotsu or shio style), but I had to try this "No. 1"-rated ramen. The broth itself was slightly sweet and the noodles were a little softer than I usually like, but the chasiu was delicious! The fat literally melted in your mouth. Yumm~
Kitahama Shoten Shiro Miso Ramen ($9.80 + tax)
KITAHAMA SHOTEN HAKODATE SHIO RAMEN: I came to this food fair with my mom so she got the other style of ramen that was offered. "Shio" means "salt" in Japanese so this ramen had a salty broth with the same mouthwatering chasiu. The toppings were slightly different from my miso ramen, but we both agreed that we liked the Hakodate Shio Ramen more.
Kitahama Shoten Hakodate Shio Ramen ($9.80 + tax)
KUKURU TAKOYAKI: One of my favorite demo booths featured takoyaki, which are dough balls stuffed with pieces of octopus and covered with takoyaki sauce, mayo, bonito shavings, and seaweed powder. Takoyaki is a popular festival street snack in Japan. Usually, takoyaki is served in an open container so you can enjoy them immediately and the steam can escape, but Kukuru placed their takoyaki in an enclosed paper box, which ended up making my takoyaki really mushy. :(
Kukuru Takoyaki Booth + Demo (8 balls for $6.90+tax)
Check out Kukuru's Mascot
LAPOPPO APPLE POTATO PIE: The Lapoppo booth demonstrated how to bake an "Apple Potato Pie."
Lady selling Baked Sweet Potato and Sweet Potato Stick Snacks
Chef making "Apple Potato Pie"
I love baking so I had to try this strange apple and potato pie. Who ever heard of potato in a sweet pie anyway??

Monday, June 20, 2011

Burger Adventure: Fuddruckers

221 N San Fernando Blvd
Burbank, CA 91502

After a fun Conan TV taping and some tasty treats at Porto's Bakery, my friends and I headed over to Fuddruckers for dinner. Fuddruckers is a build-your-own burger joint that I've heard about but never visited before.
Fuddruckers Menu
Basically, you order the foundation of your burger (type of meat, size of your patty, cheese, and any special toppings) at the window and add the veggies and condiments yourself at the other stations. I say "type of meat" because Fuddruckers offers an "Exotics" menu that includes wild boar, elk, buffalo, or whatever other game is in season.
Fuddruckers Veggie Station
Fuddruckers cooks up your burger fresh to order. Once they call your number, you bring your burger to the Veggie Station to add whatever you want in whatever proportions you want. Here, you can add lettuce (whole leaf and shredded), tomatoes, onions (rings and diced), different pickles, relish, salsa, and chili peppers.
Fuddruckers Condiment Station
At the Condiment Station, you can add your regular ketchup, mustard, and mayo, but they also carry some more interesting condiments like BBQ sauce, nacho cheese, nacho jalapeno cheese, Tabasco, malt vinegar, and Worcestershire sauce.
Heinz 57 Sauce
They even carry Heinz 57 Sauce, which I've never had before. It tasted a little like slightly sweetened Lucas.
My Kid's Meal - cheeseburger, fries, and a cookie
This is how my burger turned out. Rather messy, I know, but it was pretty tasty. I actually ordered the Kid's Meal Cheeseburger because I didn't want to eat a huge third-pound or half-pound burger. I was scared the cashier wouldn't let me since the menu said it was for kids 12 and under, but fortunately, the cashier didn't say anything. The Kid's Meal came with a burger, fries, cookie, and souvenir cup (not pictured here, but it's in the photo of the Veggie Station). Honestly, the fries weren't anything spectacular and I've had better cookies, but I liked the burger with its buttered bun and beefiness. Next time, I'll order this without the cheese since the Condiment Station carries nacho cheese.
Elk Burger
Here's my friend's Elk Burger with cheese and grilled mushrooms. He ordered it medium, but it came out rather rare. I got to try a bite and the best way I can describe it is that it was like beef without the beefiness... so like... bland beef? It didn't really impress me and the rareness was off-putting so the Elk Burger is not for me. My friend didn't seem to be wow-ed by his burger either so maybe we're just not elk burger people.

Ultimately, I enjoyed my first experience at Fuddruckers and don't mind coming back.
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