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Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Mitsuwa - Japanese Gourmet Food Fair 2011

Mitsuwa Market
MITSUWA
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??

Lapoppo Apple Potato Pie ($8.50 + tax)
BUT don't let the "potato" throw you off. It's actually made with sweet potatoes (the Japanese satsumaimo kind). I love this type of sweet potato! :)
Slice of Lapoppo Apple Potato Pie
There's a lot happening in this one little pie. Starting from the very bottom, there is a very thin phyllo dough layer. It's so thin that it probably got overbaked and was difficult to cut through because it was so hard. Above this layer is a layer of dense yet light cake. Then, there is a thick layer of mashed sweet potatoes with little bits of skin mixed throughout. Above that, there are thin slices of apple. The entire pie is covered with a cake-like lattice pattern and glossed over with a shiny glaze that I believe might be apple jelly. The outer crust along the edge of the pie tasted just like a sweet tart crust. Some day, I might attempt to recreate this pie, but it's definitely going to take some figuring out.

LAPOPPO STRAWBERRY & CREAM CHEESE SWEET POTATO: Lapoppo's booth also had these interesting sweet potato confections. I got to sample the Strawberry & Cream Cheese Sweet Potato confection and it tasted exactly like that - sweet potato with strawberries and cream cheese. I considered buying a box to take home, but it was $15.90 per box, which was a little too rich for my blood. :x
Strawberry & Cream Cheese Sweet Potato and Purple Sweet Potato
CRAB INARI AND CHIRASHI: Another item I was looking forward to trying was the crab inari and chirashi.
Crab Inari and Chirashi Booth
These items are made fresh right in front of you!
Making Crab Inari Set w/ Anago
I love crab, but am not a fan of inari sushi because I dislike its sweetness with fish and rice so I really appreciated the opportunity of sampling the Crab Inari without having to pay so much for something I might not enjoy. (They were being sold for $9.90 + tax for 4 pieces.) Like I predicted, I did not like the inari part so I opted to buy the Crab Chirashi to take home so my dad and brother could try it.
Crab Chirashi ($15.90 + tax)
The chirashi was slightly sweet from the sushi rice and vinegar. There was plenty of crab for everyone to try, which was a big plus. But for something that's $16+, we felt that it was a little on the "eh" side and would've preferred going to a Chinese seafood restaurant and ordering a lobster or crab instead.

MURAKAWA FISH CAKE: The final item we brought home were some fish cakes.
Murakawa Fish Cake Booth + Samples
This booth offered samples for all of their different fish cake flavors, which included things like edamame, negi (green onion), shrimp, pumpkin, squid, and several others I don't remember.
Murakawa Fish Cakes ($1.80 each or 3 for $5+tax)
We opted for the pumpkin, shrimp, and either the octopus or squid fish cakes (I forgot which one we chose). My favorite was the octopus/squid one because I liked the contrast in texture between the chewy octopus/squid and the denseness of the fish cake.

There were several other items and sweets (like the Pudding Dorayaki and Mukashin Osaka Mitarashi Dango) that were being showcased at this Gourmet Food Fair, but we didn't get to try them. (Japanese food be expensive, yo!)
Seafood Bento Boxes and Hiranoya Sushi
I wish I had been able to buy and try everything, but alas, my wallet wouldn't let me. :( BUT this just means I get to come back next year and try it then! So until the next adventure...

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