Friday, July 9, 2010

Ramen Summer School: Yatai at Breadbar

I'd like to preface this post by telling you how happy it makes me to be loving food blogging again.  Upon awaking this morning, laying in bed listening to the breathing of my three favorite beings and the occasional click-click-clicking toenails of one restless GSD puppy, I reflected on my meal last night. Low and behold, I couldn't wait to get to my iMac, gaze out my window into the gloom and bougainvillea, edit my photos and start to construct this post in my head. Waking up to excitement over a new post is what keeps me going, an indicator I'm doing something I love.

8718 W 3rd Street
Los Angeles, CA 90024
Now through July 24th

Yatai at Breadbar on 3rd is a 6-week long pop-up ramen restaurant.  Taken from Breadbar's website:

BREADBAR | West Third Street proudly announces a new Japanese inspired pop-up concept, "Yatai Ramen Twist", now - July 24th. On Mondays - Saturdays from 5-10pm, guests can enjoy Japanese street food in the heart of West Hollywood. "Yatai" is a small, mobile Japanese food stand typically selling ramen and other hot dishes.
Created by Ironnori Concepts, Chef Kazuo Shimamura will create fresh ramen dishes weekly, from Tomato Ramen to Foie Gras Ramen, to classics like Spicy Miso and Shoyu Ramen. Gyoza (pot-stickers) and flavored Boba Teas will be on hand.
Space is limited for Yatai | Ramen Twist. RSVP by calling 310.205.0124 or visit to secure your place now!

What is a yatai?  A yatai is much like the bacon-wrapped hot dog carts you will find on street corners in Echo Park.  

image courtesy of:  Khaosan-Fukuoka Hostel

I didn't see many of these when I was in Tokyo, but I saw a few.  Love the one with the yellow curtains in the background, sitting within the curtains must either the pleasant illusion that one is in a very small restaurant or at the very least block out passing exhaust fumes.  Japanese do an excellent job with small and makeshift spaces.

These little food stands are built into the walls underneath train platforms. They are sprinkled throughout Tokyo at various train stations. Walking past, you are enveloped by the scents of various noodle broths, sushi rice, robata.

The menu.  Last night they offered eight versions of ramen, four classic and four with a twist. Click to enlarge if you fancy.

From the side menu: kale gyoza.

Dark green filling wrapped inside fairly traditional dough, crimped at the edges. Originally Chinese, these treats spread to Japan and beyond to Southern and Southeast Asia.

H brought a nice bottle of chianti that stood up well to the salty-sweet broth and meats in our bowls. Breadbar pop-ups at the 3rd Street location are BYOB, and they happily pop the cork and provide you with glasses.

Pig's foot gyoza.  Satisfying the current rage for anything that constitutes nose-to-tail dining.

The filling here was satisfyingly fatty, smooth and silky with a little substantial and solid flesh to chew on.  Both gyoza were delicious, but I preferred the stand out flavors of the kale.

Our giant bowls of ramen came out with little paper labels so as not to confuse us with similar looking bowls. Is this done at all ramen restaurants? In the words of Greg Stink, I have no idea. 

Huge hot steaming bowl of oxtail ramen. Oxtail flavor soup, truffle oil, marine poached egg.  Any flavors from the truffle oil were blown away by the strong flavors of the hot, sweet broth. The twist offerings were described as having heartier broths and thicker noodles than the classic preparations.  The broth in the oxtail was rich and a little oily, probably from the slightly fatty oxtail.  What is an oxtail, you might ask. Well you might not, but J did. Oxtail is the culinary name for the tail of cattle.  

image courtesy of: Donald Russell

Above, oxtail in its pre-cooked state. You can clearly see the center of the vertebrae, and once the meat has been cooked and stripped from the bone, you can see the spinal and transverse processes.

About halfway through (and durn close to being completely full tummy-wise) you can see the quality and texture of the noodles.

Chianti was a great choice to accompany my dish. It stood up very nicely to my rich broth without overpowering all the subtle flavors.


Above, D ordered the classic miso ramen. All classic bowls came with marine poached egg, kurobota pork belly, nori, bamboo shoot, kikurage mushroom, Tokyo negi onions.

H had the spicy miso ramen.

J ate the shoyu ramen. These S boys are bottomless pits. Both finished their entire bowls. I took a little to-go container home and cannot wait for lunch time.

Our server, who has served me beautifully at many a Ludobites, gifted us a small bag of beautiful Breadbar financiers. Thank you for the cookies and see you soon at Ludobites!

Addendum: Peeking at my to-go container of beautiful left over ramen, I am happy to report the broth has gellified.  Meaning the broth is made by roasting and boiling bones over a period of time. I have heard two different stories about where the gelatin comes from when making a stock.  The connective tissue has collagen, which converts to gelatin that thickens the liquid, becoming gelee like when cold. But I have also read that the bones themselves contain gelatin. Nevermind, because we are looking for the natural occurrence of gelatin in a stock which thickens and enrichens our soup naturally without further additives.  One gets it from making a proper stock using lots of bones and cooking the heck out of them for a very long time. Like Mom does.


It's With A K said...

Superb blog, my friend. Left my mouth watering, craving ramen and gave me ideas for new ingredients to add to my homemade bowls of yummy noodles. And inspired me to learn how to make a proper stock from bones. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

"Originally Chinese" - at least somebody can attribute culturally important origins properly! Apparently some freelance writers cant: . Love DH's action shot. I'm must utilize some bootie action ASAP.

stuffycheaks said...

I am so excited after reading this!!!! going next week. good to know that the oxtail was on the oilier side, I guess if I had the same amount of restraint as you did, I might pack leftovers as well. BTW, i bought the financiers when I was at Manzke's Hatchi series.. they were so good that they didn't last more than a day..

Food, she thought. said...

K, It was really really yummy! Look up the Momofuku recipe for ramen stock. I think I am going to try and make that one at home next week.

Sino, Faux pas! However, that mango soy douhua looks off the hook. I might go in search of a recipe.

Stuffy, Admittedly I was a little full from a late lunch. The ramen was no less delicious reheated at work the next day.

Diana said...

I loved loved LOVED the spicy miso ramen I had from Yatai. Sooooo good! And my bottomless pit stomach devoured the entire bowl. :)

Definitely want to go back before it's over to try the shoyo or shio ramens. I hear the corn butter in the shio is amaaaazing.

So glad you are back on the blogging prowl!

weezermonkey said...

(1) I am loving that you are loving food blogging again.

(2) I am loving the correct identification of the origin of gyoza.

(3) I am loving the vertebrae diagram.

Lots of love!

Gastronomer said...

Although it defeats the purpose of a pop up, I think Yatai should buy out the breadbar space and stay for good :-) It looks more like a ramen ya than a bakery anyway.

Kristine G. said...

I bet you were loving the kale gyoza. :)

Love all the extra photos, too, like the ramen street "huts" ...

And I am loving all your photos, too. Makes me want to jump right on in and get into that yummy goodness.

tgirl said...

So loving that you are back loving blogging as my interwebs world was without some love while you were gone fishin'!

joven said...

beautiful blog..pls visit mine and be a follower.. thanks and God bless..

joven said...

beautiful blog..pls visit mine to,and be a follower..thanks and God bless..

joven said...

beautiful blog..pls visit mine and be a follower.. thanks and God bless..