Hello Manpuku Torrance!

Hello Manpuku Torrance!

In Japanese “Manpuku” means “to be happy with a full stomach” and happy indeed we were this Mother’s Day with our 神戸ビーフ Japanese Wagyu Kobe Beef dinner.

With the current stay at home order and no dine in restaurants; this Mother’s Day was certainly a little bit different from the rest. However I still wanted it to be special. I ended up finding the perfect takeout spot for the special occasion via Manpuku Torrance.

The Torrance location is one of four US Manpuku locations. The others locations are in West LA, Costa Mesa and West Hollywood. Manpuku actually originated from Tokyo and they currently still have five locations in Tokyo.

The restaurant specializes in Yakiniku dining or Japanese bbq. “Yakiniku means “grilled meat” in Japanese. Typically the experience at Manpuku would include grilling and cooking the meats right at the restaurant table. Alas due to no dine in; we weren’t able to do that but we were able to enjoy some quality food from Manpuku right at the comfort of our home.

Manpuku currently is offering various take home bento boxes. Well known for the premier quality of their meat; I chose to get the US Kobe Beef BBQ Bento. Along with the US Kobe Beef bbq; the bento box had edamame, homemade kimchi, bean sprouts, fried tofu, potato salad, cabbage salad and rice. There was also miso soup on the side.

神戸ビーフ Japanese Wagyu Kobe Beef is well known for it’s flavor and tenderness. Manpuku’s meat was definitely of high quality. It was very tender and very tasty. The matching sides were superb as well. I really enjoyed the cabbage salad which had a lovely garlic flavored dressing. The kimchi with a slight kick also was a good side. The potato salad and rice were fluffy and delightful. Overall the flavor profile of the whole box was excellent and made for a very special meal.

Indeed Manpuku was the a great spot for takeout Mother’s Day. Moms deserve the best and here at Manpuku they indeed had the best beef and best bento box I’ve ever had. We were definitely “happy with a full stomach.”

For more smiles, please see my Yelp review on Manpuku Torrance.

Hello Japanese Food Expo 2020!

Hello Japanese Food Expo 2020!

This January 25, 2020; a very special event happened Loews Hollywood Hotel in Hollywood, California. Right at the heart of Hollywood; the Japanese Food Expo 2020 took place. Visitors got to experience authentic Japanese food, drinks, performances and cultural experiences.

This event was presented by the Japanese Food Culture Association and there were over 30 boothes showcasing premium tastes from Japan, Tokyo Street Food, Japanese sake and beer and Japan tourism.

The Japanese Food Expo this year had the very popular Sake and Beer Alley.

Showcasing 20+ premium sake brands; one could taste various sake of all kinds of flavors from pineapple to lychee to honey citrus. There was also popular beers from Sapporo, Suntory and Asahi.

The Sake Alley was amazing but not to be outdone was savory foods. The expo had so many savory delights.  There was sushi, chicken karaage, curry, okonomiyaki, noodles and more.

One of our first stops was Cup Curry.

There was rice on the bottom, curry in the middle and cheese on top. It was the cutest curry cup ever and one tasty one too!

Another fun stop was the Karaage Stick booth.

Chicken karaage is definitely one of my favorite Tokyo street foods. Here at the 2020 Japanese Food Expo; the karaage stick had a unique touch. It consisted of two pieces of Japanese fried chicken karaage and one marshmallow all drizzled in sushi sauce. It was different and delicious!

Sushi of course could not be missing at a Japanese Expo.

There was plenty of sushi to go around courtesy of the Suzumo International Corporation. Fresh seafood made for yummy eats.

There was also Chirashi from JFC International Inc.

Chirashi sushi is “scattered” sushi. Here at the Japanese Food Expo the scattered mix was in a bowl of rice with vegetables and lots of fish

Another delightful booth featured okonomiyaki; the traditional Japanese food pancake.

Made from Osaka style Okonomiyaki flavor; this was indeed something food expo visitors were sure to like! (Trivia: the word Okonomiyaki is derived from the two words:  okonomi, meaning “how you like” and yaki meaning “cooked.”

Aside from the savory; there were plenty of sweet treats all round as well.

There was Japanese Style Popcorn that you could make savory or sweet to your liking.

Toppings for customizing your popcorn included curry honey sauce, miso honey, yukari butter and furikake butter.

Dessert delights awaited at the Matcha Soft Serve station.

The Matcha Soft Serve was topped with rice crackers “arare!” Arare is bite-sized Japanese crackers made flavored with soy sauce.

Another favorite Japanese dessert is mochi. At the Japanese expo they were serving some scrumptious strawberry mochi.

The mochi had a giant strawberry in the middle and was topped with read bean paste.

Pear- Yokan by Niigatta was one delightful treat all the way from Japan

Le Lectier Pears are grown on the banks of the Shinano river in Japan. Once they are harvested, Yokan by Niigata adds a sweet bean mixture making for a soft texture and a lovely taste.

One very popular booth was Traditional Japanese Candy Art performed by artist Candy 5.

Candy 5 was making each delicate and unique sculpture by hand and molding them. She was making customized candy art of people’s pets as well as cute character favorites. Hello Kitty love!

Speaking of cute characters; one highlight of the was the event was being a contestant of the onigiri character bento completion.

It was 15 minutes to design your own onigiri characters. My hands were shaking the whole time hehe! I didn’t win but I sure did have a lot of fun. I chose to make Hello Kitty with her boyfriend Dear Daniel.

The Japanese Food Expo was one great event! It was amazing to see and taste so many exquisite Japanese food creations and drinks. Oishi! I can’t wait for next year ;).

Hello Tendon Tempura Carlos Jr!

Hello Tendon Tempura Carlos Jr!

There’s a new place in Torrance for some tasty tempura!

Located in Old Torrance is Tendon Tempura Carlos Jr! It’s a brand new tempura spot owned and operated by Carlos A Pinto of Hannosuke fame.

Carlos’ love for tempura begin at an early age when he went to Japan from Peru. It was there that he learned to love tempura and when he went to the United States; his passion for tempura was enhanced when he started working at “Nihonbashi Ten-don Kaneko Hannosuke;” a famous Japanese restaurant that opened up in Torrance.

This year Hannosuke will sadly be closing it’s Torrance shop but Carlos didn’t want the love of tempura in the South Bay to stop and he decided to open up his own restaurant and hence the opening of Tendon Tempura Carlos Jr!

Tempura love can definitely be seen in the cuisine offered here. Their tempura is deep fried in original Koromo batter that is made by precise gram of water and flour. They also only use 100% plant oil and combine it with Japanese sesame oil to fry their tempura. Tendon Tempura Carlos Jr. also has a special secret sauce called Tare/Tsuyu sauce.

Yesterday was their grand opening and I was one of the first lucky 100 that tried their Special Tempura bowl. It had white fish, 2 shrimps, kakiage, seaweed, shishito pepper and half boiled egg!

The freshness and overall quality of the tempura was the best. It felt like I was in Tokyo once again.

There is no need to fly all the way to Tokyo however to find tasty tempura because it can be found right here in Torrance! Today, November 2, 2019, Tendon Tempura Carlos Jr will have it’s first full regular day from 11am-9pm.

For more smiles; please see my Yelp Review on Tendon Tempura Carlos Jr.

Hello Matsuri Festival at Mitsuwa Market!

Hello Matsuri Festival at Mitsuwa Market!

This weekend Mitsuwa Market in Torrance had their annual Matsuri Festival. The Matsuri Festival is a Japanese Festival celebrating Autumn. This festival at Mitsuwa had lots of food for the whole family to enjoy.

Some of the food booths were sponsored by some of the popular Japanese eateries in the South Bay.

Shin-Sen Gumi was offering some of their tasty Yakitori. Choices were Arabiki Sausage, Tsukune (Chicken meatball) or Negima (Chicken thigh and onion).

Tsujita LA was present serving their popular Tonkatsu Ramen. It had tender pork belly (charsiu) with green onions, kikuge and seaweed.

Chinchikurin was present serving their tasty Hiroshima Okonomiyaki. Their Okonomiyaki had 11 layers of green laver, sesame seeds, egg, dried kelp powder and dried bonito powder, batter, noodles, green onions, sliced pork, bean sprouts, cabbage, tempura crisps and Otafuku Okonomiyaki sauce.

After eating some delicious Japanese food; there were lots of Hello Kitty games for the young and young at heart to play. I spotted some cutie Hello Kitty items.

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Matsuri Festival at Mitsuwa Marketplace was a fun and delicious way to welcome this fall season!

Hello Thaipanese!

Hello Thaipanese!

I’ve always been a fan of Thai food and Japanese food. A lot of blog entrees have been dedicated to visiting Japanese and Thai restaurants so just imagine this blogger’s delight when I discovered a restaurant offering both types of cuisine! The newly opened Thaipanese restaurant in Lomita, California specializes in both Japanese and Thai food.

The menu of this place is amazing. They’ve got Japanese specialities such as sushi, teriyaki and ramen and they have Thai dishes such as pad thai and curry. I found their lunch special to be really great because you can get a good mix of Japanese and Thai food. Their lunch specials come with rice, miso soup, house salad and your choice of sushi roll.

Whenever I go to a Thai restaurant, pad thai is a staple dish I must try. For Japanese restaurants, my favorite sushi is the California roll. It was a given that one of the first lunch special combos I would try here at Thaipanese would have both .

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I liked the pad thai with the slight sweet peanut sauce here. The California rolls were fresh and tasty with a creamy filling of imitation crab.

My other favorite Thai dish is curry! I’m also a big fan of veggie rolls. Here at Thaipanese, they have both.

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The yellow curry with chicken is spicy and had lots of sauce that was perfect over the white rice. The spicy curry was a good match for the veggie rolls. I liked the crispy veggies and avocado inside the veggie rolls.

I love that Thaipanese offers the best of both the worlds in terms of Thai food and Japanese food. It makes me smile that I can get dishes with both types. If you’re a fan of either Thai food or Japanese food, this is a place that will surely make you smile as well.

Hello Oumi Sasaya!

Hello Oumi Sasaya!

Bonding with my Mama Kitty are the most special moments for this Hello Kitty Foodie. I love my mom and love spending time with here. With her, I’ve tried some of the best restaurants around town.

In the recent years, we’ve grown fond of Japanese food and thus for this Mother’s Day, it was fitting to try out one of the South Bay’s most popular Japanese restaurants, Oumi Sasaya. Located in Lomita, California, Oumi Sasaya, offers authentic Japanese noodles and broth with no additivites. This restaurant is a re-creation of the original “Sasaya” restaurant in the “Oumi” region of Japan.  The child of the original Oumi Sasaya immigrated to the US and decided to open this restaurant here in California in order to continue the legacy of their father.  I love that this restaurant was built as child’s tribute to their father.

My mom and I’s dining experience here started off with a complimentary tofu dish. It’s a soft a small soft tofu with a little bit of green onions sprinkled on top.

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My mom and I both chose to get combos for our main dishes. My mom got the shrimp tempura and egg bowl with mini hot udon.

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I chose to get the simmered chicken tempura and egg bowl with mini hot udon .

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Our dishes were very similar. Both of our rice bowls were filled with lots of soft, scrambled egg on top of white rice. My mom’s bowl had three pieces of shrimp tempura while mine had three pieces of large chicken tempura. I loved my chicken tempura. It was lightly battered and fried to golden perfection making it uber crispy at first bite. On the side was some yellow radish that great when mixed in with the egg and chicken in the rice bowl.  The accompanying mini hot udon was very nice.

This place is known for their udon and it’s not hard to see why. The broth is simple but has comforting to the palate. Their udon noodles are fresh, soft and delicate. They are perfectly chewy. Topping the udon was lovely tempura crisps.  Together the heartwarming broth and the savory egg bowls made a perfect pair.

Everything that my mom and I tried here was very delcious. I couldn’t help but notice how many other families were here as well enjoying the traditional Japanese udon dishes. It really is a lovely place to enjoy homemade fresh udon noodles and hearty bowls. My mom and I were full of smiles after our Mother’s Day meal here.

It truly was a lovely beautiful Mother’s Day with my mom. Every moment with her is the sweetest and I treasure all those times! I hope that all of you dear readers got to have an equally sweet Mother’s Day! Happy Mother’s Day!

For more smiles, please see my recent Yelp review on Oumi Sasaya.

Hello Gaja Japanese Restaurant!

Hello Gaja Japanese Restaurant!

I have a fascination with Japan and it’s a travel destination that I hope to one day visit. I won’t deny it that the biggest factor is Hello Kitty, my favorite Japanese kitty of all time. 😉 It’s my dream to one day take that Hello Kitty plane to Japan, go to Sanrio Puroland, buy Japan Hello Kitty exclusives and eat delicious Japanese cuisine. Ahh yes, Japanese cuisine, another reason why I would love to go to Japan one day. For now however I am lucky to bask in Hello Kitty happiness here in California and eat a different places that specialize in Japanese cuisine.

Just recently I tried out a great Japanese restaurant named Gaja Japanese Restaurant in Lomita, California. Gaja Japanese Restaurant specializes in various Japanese dishes of okonomiyaki, monjyayaki, pasta, udon and risotto.

On my trip here I got to try a variety of some of their various specialities. My meal first started off with fresh and healthy salad consisting of spinach and nice sweet dressing.

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After the salad, I got to try their Chinese style pork and egg udon.
This was a huge bowl filled with soft and long udon noodles, tender strips of Chinese style pork and scrambled egg. It’s a dish that reminds me of home cooking. It has a nice broth that just gives some comfort and warmth.

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On this day, I also got to try their Japanese style shimeji carbonara pasta. I’ve always been a fan of carbonara pasta and when I read they had shimeji, I was quite intrigued and excited. Shimeji is a group of mushrooms found in East Asia. I love mushrooms and found this a great addition to carbonara. Their carbonara is rich cream based dish with little strips of bacon. Their carbonara is more like a soup dish versus a pasta dish.
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Last but not least I had to try their okonomiyaki. This is what Gaja Japanese Restaurant is famous for. Okonomiyaki is a Japanese pancake. The name comes is a combo of two Japanese words, okonomi and yaki. Okonomi means “what you like” or “what you want”, and yaki means “grilled” or “cooked.” Here at Gaja you have the option of making and cooking your own okonomiyaki or having them cook it for you. Since it was my first time here ever, I had them cook it for me. I decided on the pork okonomiyaki.

When my okonomiyaki came out, I was simply in awe with the huge pancake that was presented to me. It was a giant okomiyaki made out of eggs, shredded cabbage and pork. Drizzled on top was the okonomiyaki sauce, mayo and seaweed. I chose to skip the bento flakes since I am not a fish flake person.

Taste wise, it was amazing. I loved the crispy outer edges of the okomiyaki and was such a fan of the freshness of the whole pancake!

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It was my first time trying this type of Japanese cuisine and I was very impressed. This restaurant introduced me to another flavor of Japan and only further inspired me to one day visit the land of the rising sun.

For more smiles, please see my Yelp review on Gaja Japanese Restaurant.

Hello once again to the charming Gardena Bowl Coffee Shop!

Hello once again to the charming Gardena Bowl Coffee Shop!

When I first came to Gardena Bowl Coffee Shop for Easter brunch earlier this year, I instantly became a fan of the charming coffee shop offering homestyle cooking. If breakfast was good, lunch and dinner had to be great as well and I made a note to come back to check it out. I recently came back and indeed their lunch/dinner entrees are just as delicious!

All of their dinner entrees come with green tea and a miso soup.
Their miso soup is delightful. The warm broth is tasty and not salty like other miso soups. I was also pleasantly surprised to see vermicelli noodles in the miso soup. The vermicelli noodles add a nice touch to the soup. It brings a little more depth to the soup.
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One of the entrees, I really wanted to try here was the tempura. A coworker mentioned to me how huge their tempura plates were and my curiosity was peaked! On my trip here with my friend, we ordered the tempura dinner and was indeed impressed. The plating is beautiful and there is a good array of crispy tempura. There is shrimp and various veggies such as bell pepper and zucchini. The tempura was served piping hot and simply delicious!

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The other entree I got to try was the karaage and beef teriyaki This Japanese dish was another winner. Their karaage similar to the tempura was fresh. I loved that the instant crunch at first bite. It came with a tasty potato macaroni salad. The crispy karaage and the creamy potato macaroni salad were the perfect pair. The beef teriyaki in this dish was excellent as well. The tender beef with sweet teriyaki flavor went well with white rice.

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Gardena Bowl Coffee Shop continues to be one of the most charming spots in the South Bay for me. Their homestyle cooking continues to make me smile.

Hello Ko-Ryu Ramen!

Hello Ko-Ryu Ramen!

It’s almost time for the “ber” months and what perfect way to prepare for those “brrrrr” err “ber” days than to find the places offering heartwarming ramen. One place offering such soup perfect for the upcoming cold days is Ko-Ryu in Torrance. It is a nice, cozy little Japanese ramen resto that offers a creative take on the classic Japanese soup.

I came here on a relatively semi-chilly Friday night. After quickly scanning the menu, a soup called the “Garlic bomb” caught my eye. I’m often a fan of flavorful garlic dishes and was intrigued with it’s name. After first sip, I can definitely say that this soup lives up to it’s name. It’s not for the garlic faint hearted. It has both deep fried and fresh chopped garlic. There’s also lots of soft, long noodles, bamboo shoot, green onions and chashu pork slices. I got extra toppings of egg and corn as weLL. It’s a garlic power packed, flavorful ramen.

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Aside from the “Garlic bomb” ramen, I also had the chance to try their Torikara. It is an interesting take on traditional Japanese karaage. The deep fried boneless chicken came marinated with sweet and sour sauce. The torikara was a good side and match to the soups.

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To end the night, our server treated us to some complimentary mango pudding. It was my first time ever to have a mango pudding like this. It’s was chilled and in liquid form. It’s a sweet and interesting take on pudding. I’m a big fan of mango and was pleased with this unique dessert. It was a perfectly cool way to end the night.

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Ko-Ryu is a good spot for some different and tasty food. Deliciously different ramen, unique take on karaage and free dessert, this place will be great for those upcoming “brr” days!

For more smiles, please see my recent Yelp review on Ko-Ryu Ramen

Hello Ramen Yamadaya!

Hello Ramen Yamadaya!

With 8 locations in California (San Francisco, Torrance, Culver City, Westwood, Costa Mesa, Sherman Oaks, San Diego and downtown San Diego) and over 600 yelp reviews (almost a 100 from my Yelp friends) in the location nearest me, it comes as a surprise that I’ve never tried Ramen Yamadaya till today.

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Yes, today was the day I finally tried the popular and famous Ramen Yamadaya at their Torrance location. Expectations were high as I stepped into the small little ramen shop with my friend.

To start off our meal here, my friend got a plate of gyoza. Six pieces of soft dumplings were presented to us. Pan fried, the gyoza had a perfect crisp on the outside. Inside, it had a nice, flavorful juicy pork and vegetable filling.

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My friend and I decided to share a ramen combination with ramen, kara-age and fried rice. The kara-age came out first. Kara-age is one of my favorite dishes and I found this place does the delicious dish justice. Hot, fresh and crispy, the chicken was wonderful. It was seasoned perfectly and fried to golden perfection. It came with some very tasty salad. The salad was like a slaw and consisted of shredded lettuce topped with sweet dressing.

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Up next for our meal was the fried rice. The fried rice was excellent and reminded me of some my favorite fried rice dishes that I’ve only found at Hawaiian resturants. Their fried rice here had lots of little pieces of egg, chashu meat and corn! It was so flavorful and perfect with the gyoza and kara-age.

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Last but not least for us was the ramen. We got the tokontsu kotteri. It was rich and fatty ramen with black garlic oil. The pork broth was filled with their original thin noodle, tender slices of pork meat, one marinated egg with with a half baked yolk and sprinkles of scallion. We also got a side of fresh garlic on the side that we pressed and added to the broth. This ramen is one of the best that I’ve ever tried. The broth comes from 20 hours of boiling with pork bone. Thick in cosnistency, rich and creamy and with good garlic flavor all throughout, the broth was excellent. The toppings were like icing on the cake, it added an extra bit of happiness to the already flavorful soup base.

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I was very happy with Ramen Yamadaya. There were plenty of smiles after this meal.

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For more smiles, please see my recent Yelp review on Ramen Yamadaya.