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FOOD: Ramen done right

First, a quick note to all the new folk who’ve come by either because of the article or the spotlight link on the main Livejournal homepage: Welcome! It’s uplifting to touch base with so many people who are interested in good food, farmer’s markets, and other gustatory pursuits.

If you’re a local Angeleno who wants me to pay attention to your neighborhood’s market, please drop me a line. I’m keeping a running list of to-be-visited markets for 2007 and would love to add more.

And on with the usual… 

---

Last night JJ was craving some ramen – really good ramen – where the noodles are fresh, the broth is rich and savory, and the ambience is energetic and friendly. Enter in Shin Sen Gumi.

Shin Sen Gumi: Valley Blvd.

Located on Valley Blvd. in the heart of Rosemead, Shin Sen Gumi is a tiny ramen house shoved into the east side of a large shopping center. There’s ample parking, but prepare to wait outside during the dinner rush. It was jam packed when we got there. But the wait was made tolerable by the hostess’ efficiency and warm smile. When our turn came up, we were shown to a set of seats along the counter.

Shin Sen Gumi: menu and tea

I wasn’t famished, so I stuck to the dinner appetizer menu and ordered a soft shell crab.

Shin Sen Gumi: soft shell crab

I can thank the State of Maryland for instilling in me a proper love for this crispy beast. If it’s on the menu, I usually order it. It was good. Probably could have used a little less of the sauce, but the flavors matched nicely with my steaming cup of tea.

Shin Sen Gumi’s trademark Hakata Ramen was JJ’s obvious choice.

Shin Sen Gumi: Hakata Ramen

It comes in a massive bowl, hot and steamy, and cooked to your noodle preference (soft, medium, or just-barely-boiled). You have the option of ordering extra noodles from the chef if you find that you have room for more noodle love, but wait until you get about halfway through your bowl. Even with JJ’s hearty appetite, he found their serving more than ample.

Shin Sen Gumi: Hakata Ramen

Aside from giving good noodle, Shin Sen Gumi’s atmosphere makes for a truly pleasurable dining experience. From the tea pourer to the noodle chef, each employee was a member of a coordinated customer service ballet. They shouted a synchronized greeting when we entered after the hostess announced us (a smile-inducing “Irasshai!”). They thanked us in unison when we received our check, and then again when we headed out the door. They do this to everyone coming in and going out with the same undiluted joint enthusiasm. JJ was kicking himself for not bringing his recorder. My interest in food is well-matched by JJ’s interest in sounds. Shin Sen Gumi was a harmony of ear candy to him.

It was an all-around delightful experience. And we’ll be back. Oh yes. 

Jonathon Gold reviewed the Gardena location for the L.A. Weekly in March of 2006.  It's an enjoyable and informative read, laced with Mr. Gold's usual flair.  Also worth reading is the Who We Are section of the Shin Sen Gumi website.

Shin Sen Gumi Hakata Ramen
8450 Valley Blvd., #103
Rosemead, CA 91770
626-572-8646
Monday thru Friday:
Lunch 11:30am - 2pm
Dinner 6pm - 11pm
Sat. & Sunday:
11:30am - 11:30pm



Comments

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militarychef
Jan. 6th, 2007 03:43 pm (UTC)
I did join your journal via spotlight. I am actually a red-seal (highest level in Canada) trained chef.

I work for the provnical museum where I live, as the excutive chef of the museum cafe. I look forward to your journal!
tableauvivante
Jan. 6th, 2007 03:54 pm (UTC)
Wonderful to have you here! :)

What credentials! Do you have a website link to a menu? I'd be interested in seeing it if it's available.
militarychef
Jan. 6th, 2007 05:11 pm (UTC)
I will email you the menu and our catering menu next week if your like.

I have been in the industry for 13 years now. The best place aside the current job.........Kabul Afghanistan at the canadian military base (where I met my husband!).

Feel free to add me to your flist.
tableauvivante
Jan. 6th, 2007 05:49 pm (UTC)
Please do! You can drop me a line at tableauvivante at livejournal dot com.

I'll be sure to stop by and take a gander.
aellwynde
Jan. 7th, 2007 12:39 am (UTC)
While I have had real ramen- though I prefer udon- I have never had soft shell crab. How does it differ, flavor wise, to a regular crab? I tend to prefer snow crab to king crab, but will definitely eat either if forced to. ;) Do I need to add soft shell to that list?
tableauvivante
Jan. 7th, 2007 12:53 am (UTC)
I am so glad you asked:)

Well, my completely biased answer is yes :). But it doesn't have the same flavor as those deep sea crabs you mentioned. Soft shell crab is usually the post-molt version of the blue crab, which is a semi-freshwater species (it can live in either actually, but most times you'll find it in brackish water estuaries).

The shell, being brand new after a molt, is soft like tissue paper, so you eat it, shell and all, like a straight piece of meat. The meat itself is lighter and sweeter than deep sea crab meat, and lacks that salty tang that you get with king crab legs.

It's delicate and delicious. I actually prefer them very simply done. Dusted with lightly seasoned flour and sauteed in butter. Sprinkle with lemon juice and you have a masterpiece.
aellwynde
Jan. 7th, 2007 04:48 am (UTC)
You do have a way with words. It is very, very odd to have a craving inspired by a food I've never even tasted. I wonder if we have anywhere around here to get them. Thanks for the description.

Why is it that you do not write more??! I remember reading some of your RP stories, and with these random descriptions, I really would love to see you write more.
sh1mm3r
Jan. 7th, 2007 04:43 am (UTC)
Hey, just wanted to say I like reading your blog (found it on LJ spotlight). I don't live in the LA area but do blog regularly about my baking and vegetarian cooking, if you ever feel like browsing (the veggie one is really new).

You're lucky to have year-round farmers markets, that's for sure.
tableauvivante
Jan. 7th, 2007 02:17 pm (UTC)
Hi! Thanks for stopping by:)

Nice blogs. I'll add them to my favorites.
xsandohwows
Jan. 9th, 2007 10:34 am (UTC)
mm now you have me wanting ramen like crazy ! i was sad to see the location was in rosemead, but then saw your link to the la weekly article and got excited ! i live in the south bay so i'll definitley be checking out shin sen gumi.

found your blog on the spotlight, so far it's great :]
tableauvivante
Jan. 9th, 2007 01:43 pm (UTC)
Lots of great noodle down your way. Hope you enjoy it:).
(Deleted comment)
tableauvivante
Jan. 19th, 2007 03:51 pm (UTC)
Thanks for coming by.
cutlet_milanese
Jan. 19th, 2007 05:10 pm (UTC)
Oh sorry, did I delete my comment or LJ ate it up?
As a HAKATA native I recognize the authenticity of their menu - the ramen, mizutaki and yuzukosho are real stuff. I'm so proud someone with your culinary interest took it up. Thumbs up!
tableauvivante
Jan. 20th, 2007 04:22 am (UTC)
JJ and I love Japanese cuisine. Actually we're pretty much fans of all food :). But when we found Shin Sen Gumi, it quickly became one of our favorites. The food and service are excellent and I try something different from the menu each time we go.

Thanks for stopping by :). What food from Hakata do you miss the most? (I'm assuming you're no longer there)
cutlet_milanese
Jan. 20th, 2007 05:23 am (UTC)
Since Hakata specialties are being more frequently marketed these days, I will mention two that are never seen outside the area: Sabachadzuke and katsuona.

Assuming you're okay with sushi...
Sabachadzuke is mackerel slices dipped in soysauce and freshly roasted ground sesami, topped over a bowl of rice, immersed in a generous serving of green tea. Broken nori and yuzukosho instead of the regular wasabi are the choice condiments. The mackerel becomes half cooked in hot green tea. To be preapared this way the fish needs to be absolutely fresh. Since mackerel are notoriously quick to expire, they're never eaten this way in other parts of Japan.

Katsuona is a local variety of chinese cabbage that has a distinct full-body flavor likened to the dried bonito (katsuo), the favorite soup stock item in Japanese cuisine. They are eaten only during the New Year and thus a rarity.

They're the seasonal, down-to earth food prepared at home. Try mentioning these the next time you dine at Shin Sen Gumi; they'll immediately recognize you as a Hakata connoisseur!
(Anonymous)
May. 23rd, 2007 12:18 am (UTC)
Uma Turman was killed!
Today in Los-Angeles. Horrible..
http://wetz.info/channel/?chanID=71004
( 16 tasty muffins — Bake me a tasty muffin )

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