Posted on | July 20, 2009 | 2 Comments
Another 3 days in Los Angeles, another few destination restaurants! Topping my list this time was a new restaurant, Ramen California in Torrance. This place is quite different than any other Ramen-Ya I’ve been to, in that they actually break from tradition (gasp!) Typically, ramen is served in one of four broths; Shoyu (soy sauce), Miso, Shio (salt), or Tonkatsu (pork). One of our favorites, Hakata Ramen, has the best Tonkatsu I’ve had. Ramen California, however, uses chicken broth! Not only that, their toppings are quite unconventional. The chef/owner is a highly regarded chef in Japan, who apparently shops at the Torrance farmers market, buys whatever is fresh and in season, and pretty much puts those ingredients into the ramen. They are available in small, medium, and large sizes. I think the medium is about a typical size. Adam and I shared three small ramens; the Californian (fresh veggies), the Tofu cheese, and the Heirloom Tomato. All of them were good, but I think my favorites were the Tofu Cheese and Heirloom Tomato, since they had quite unique flavors. The Tofu Cheese was indeed quite cheesy, and the Heirloom Tomato tasted of tomato, olive oil, garlic, and basil. Adam likened it to a pasta dish. The broth was wonderful, as it had all of these flavors infused within it. The noodles were also quite good, they were thinner than typical ramen noodles, chewy, and a bit al dente.
Also of note are the Rosemary rolls, which are much like the type of bread you’d see with a char shu bao. Soft, pillowy, infused with plenty of rosemary, and topped with a generous sprinkling of sea salt.
I didn’t like the bread sticks as much as the rolls; they were quite fragrant but with an almost overpowering flavouring of garlic and cheese.
For a starter we shared the Sausage Gnocchi (yes, this is a Ramen-Ya!) which was quite good. The gnocchi were soft and chewy, and the tomato sauce must have been homemade as it had a wonderful, fresh, tartness.
The restaurant is quite small and they don’t take reservations, so expect to wait. It’s clean and simple inside, and the service is good. Since it was busy we sat at the counter, which I actually prefer at places like this… you can watch the action in the kitchen!
While I probably wouldn’t rate this as my favorite ramen, I have to give the chef plenty of props for his inventiveness, and for his use of fresh, locally grown produce. I will likely return to try more of the menu items.
After Ramen California, we headed to Redondo Beach for dessert. I’d read about this tiny French artisanal ice cream shop called Delicieuse, which has a variety of goat’s milk and cow’s milk ice creams. I had the Caramel Fleur de Sel, which was sweet and just subtly salty. The ice cream was quite dense and smooth, much like an Italian gelato. My brother ordered the Strawberry, which I had a bite of, and it was excellent! The ice creams are good, but a bit pricey. $3 for a tiny (and I mean tiny!) scoop. I’d probably go back if it were just a bit less expensive…
2503 Artesia Blvd, Redondo Beach, CA 90278
Phone: 310 793-7979
That morning we had gone to one of my family’s favorite breakfast spots, the Gardena Bowling Alley. Yes, you read right! Or more affectionately known as “G-Bowl”. My brother goes here so often, he doesn’t even have to order. When he walks in the door, they just start fixing his usual!
G-Bowl’s restaurant/coffee shop is right inside of the Gardena Bowling Alley. It’s definitely a hole-in-the-wall place, but it’s clean inside, with prompt service. The food is mostly Hawaiian style. Spam, Loco Moco, Saimin, Fried Rice, etc. So of course, I had my favorite Hawaiian breakfast; Bacon Fried Rice (well done) with an over medium egg on top. Their fried rice is quite good. I was a happy camper.
The following day Adam and I headed to Santa Barbara for half a day. Our first stop was the spectacular Santa Barbara farmers market. I had to forgo my typical trip to the Torrance Farmers Market to get to this one on time, but it was worth it! We stocked up on plenty of fresh produce, as well as some locally produced cinnamon spun honey. Yum!
For dinner the night we got back to Vegas, I cut up some of the Momotaro and cherry tomatoes, topped them with some of the fresh basil from the market, drizzled it with some olive oil, and sprinkled a bit of sea salt on top. De-li-cious! Oh, by the way, those cherry tomatoes didn’t come from the farmer’s market, they actually came from my dad/brother’s tomato garden. Gotta give credit where it’s due!!!
C & O Cucina
On our way back from Santa Barbara, we stopped at one of our favorite Italian places. C & O Cucina in Venice. Those killer garlic rolls were as tasty as ever, and were just drowning in olive oil this time. I could’ve eaten a whole meal of them!
Adam got his usual favorite, the sumptuous, rich Spaghetti Bolognese.
I got my usual favorite, the vegetable capellini. Full of fresh veggies. Yum!
C & O is probably as high on our list in LA as Nora’s is here in Vegas. Some of the dishes are somewhat similar to me. Also, everything is made fresh, and the pastas are always perfectly al dente. We interchange between going to C & O’s Trattoria, further West on Washington, or the Cucina, which is usually less crowded. The portions are always HUGE, so we took our leftovers home with us and had them for dinner after we got back to Vegas. Just as good! I just wish I’d snuck in a few of those garlic rolls! Next time…
OC Buddhist Church Obon Festival
That night we met up with my BFF Amy and headed down to the Orange County Buddhist Church for the annual Obon Festival. This festival is somewhat like a ‘Day of the Dead” celebration for Japanese Buddhists, in that it’s meant to honor one’s ancestors. Of course, we also enjoy the food! One of our must haves was the Okinawa Dango. Yes, it’s pretty much just a round donut, but for some reason they’re SO good! Maybe it’s the nostalgia…
The next morning we headed down the street from my parent’s house to Meiji Tofu, a tiny family owned shop. The owners make the tofu here fresh every morning! We bought two of their supreme tofus, which have the consistency of custard, and the firm tofu which is sold in blocks. I could eat this stuff plain (and sometimes do!)
For breakfast before we headed back to Vegas, we went to one of my fave spots, Good Stuff in El Segundo. I used to live right down the street from this place, and was happy to see they’re still alive and thriving! They’ve always served fresh food with a lot of healthy choices. I ordered the California Quesadilla, which was full of scrambled eggs, avocado, bacon, and cheese.
Now I need to start planning where I want to eat for my next visit to LA….
131 Richmond St, El Segundo, CA 90245
Phone: 310 647-9997