Monday, February 19, 2007

Valentine's Day Goodies: Heart Shaped Sushi and Ramen

I would consider myself to be pretty low key about Valentine's Day. I'm not really much into cards, flowers or even...gasp...jewlery (it'll just get lost in my room ^_^;); however when I spotted an ad in the Mitsuwa flyer for heart shaped sushi I knew that my Valentines day wouldn't be complete without it!! Luckily Dave is such a sweetie and graciously drove me all the way to Little Tokyo in downtown LA on Saturday to pick some up. The package was just so cute, I could hardly calm myself down while in the grocery store. It came with four pieces, two spicy tuna and two some kind of mild fish. They were made using green and pink rice paper instead ofnori. While the rice paper added nice color and made the sushi easy to bite, I really missed the toasty flavor that comes from the nori. The sushi itself was alright, the rolls were a little big making it hard to eat but it was still a ton of fun. We made some miso soup and steamed veggies to have on the side and served it with some cold sake. It was a great little Valentine's celebration!

Then, on Sunday night, I got to have my first taste of Real Ramen (or at least a real as it comes in Southern California ^_^). My boyfriend has been to handful of different ramen places Los Angeles and had nothing but good things to say about Asahi, a small Ramen house located in the little Japanese area along Sawtelle. This little strip of Sawtelle is super cute with lots of Japanese restaurants and other businesses. It's one of those parts of the city that I don't go to very often, but every time I do, I think "I should go here more often." Hopefully I will get a chance to try the cream puffs from Papa Beard before I leave!Mmmm...cream puff....anyway, that's for another post...back to Sunday night ramen...There was a small wait to get in to the restaurant, which in my opinion is always a good sign! Asahi was very clean and had some nice decorations giving it a nice ambiance without overdoing it. As soon as you are seated you presented with a little appetizer of spicy sesame marinated cucumbers, very yum!

The menu was pretty straight forward, basically ramen and then some other non noodle dishes. Many of the ramen dishes came with pieces of pork but there were a couple with out. The main reason I haven't tried ramen is that it is almost always made with pork or chicken stock. Since I don't eat meat, I usually avoid soups made with meat stock, but I decided to make an exception forramen . However, while I will allow the stock to be made from meat, I don't think I would be able to take big pieces of meat floating around in there. I ordered thewakame ramen , one of few non meat choices, and added a boiled egg since I heard that it is really yummy with the boiled egg and plus, it looks prettier in the pictures that way. Dave I guess felt like picking up the slack for mymeatlessness and ordered Chashu ramen which is just Shoyu ramen with extra pork.

As with most ramen places, the portions were huge! There were plenty of noodles but what I liked the best were the toppings. Mine came with spring onions, a generous portion ofwakame seaweed, sprouts, bamboo shots, and a hard boiled egg which had been cut in half. Each of the toppings added a unique taste and texture to the soup. I loved the sweetness of the bamboo shots and the crunch from the bean sprouts. The seaweed was soft and slippery with a mild bitter flavor. I especially liked the boiled egg. I had fun getting a little yolk on my spoon and then letting it sop up some of the buttery broth and then taking a big bite. The flavor combination was just amazing. The broth was rich and soothing and the noodles had a nice flavor and bite to them. Since this is my firstramen place I have little to compare with but I would definitely recommend highly recommend Asahi. This ramen experience was a lot fun and will definitely not be my last. I haven't quite perfected my slurping technique, but I'm not worried...I'll have plenty of chances to practice! Can't Wait!!!