Monday, September 15, 2008

Special Foodventure #72: Mitsuwa's Hokkaido Fair and LA Mill (Torrance / Silver Lake)

My weekend of gluttony continues in Saturday evening, where I headed down to Torrance's Mitsuwa Marketplace for their Hokkaido Fair - basically a series of pop-up stalls selling groceries, and ready-to-eat foods from that region known for fresh produce, seafood and dairy. There were cooking demonstrations and food preps galore!
Such as this lady pan-frying some frozen smelt right out of the bag ("no seasoning needed!" she emphasized) And I daresay it was pretty tasty too, firm texture with a salty sardine/anchovy taste. Not something I'd expect from a plain-looking bag of frozen-ness shipped halfway around the world.
There were also freshly-made king crab leg bento boxes that were extremely enticing (esp. the combo boxes paired with uni [sea urchin] and ikura [salmon roe]) but had to pass it up since I already had so much meat earlier in the day and it'll be another few hours till I get home.
I did, however, have enough room to try Sumire Ramen in the Mitsuwa food court; unfortunately, I had to settle for the regular ol' miso ramen ($7.99) since they ran out of the butter corn miso variety. The dish was only slighty-better-than-OK, my main grievance being the soup & the noodles being way too greasy. Not sure if that's how Sumire usually makes it or if it was because the staff overlooked quality while rapid-serving those ramen bowls like no tomorrow (and I honestly can't imagine if I had to mix in a pat of butter on top of that fatty soup). I did appreciate that the chashu were in little cubed chunks rather than the usual single slice.
I also met up with some friends (who were at the Fair earlier in the day and attested to the yumminess of the corn-butter miso ramen and the crab bento boxes, well darn!) and we dutched on a few other food items, like the curry bread (being taken drawn and quartered above) and the various croquettes (we had shrimp and corn). While a bit pricey at $2.50 each, the curry bun from Pullman Bakery was pretty delicious -- with a not-too-spicy and slightly sweet japanese gravy-style curry in a "savory doughnut" style bread. The mostly-potato croquettes (around $4 each) were pretty decent; not the best croquettes I ever had, but were better than I expected for something sitting under a heat lamp for who knows how long.
Finally, sweets time -- the Hokkaido Sweets stall had already ran out of the Yubari melon bread by the time we got there; so we tried their other specialties.
Hokkaido milk soft-serve ice cream ($2.75) that was not heavy but possessed an intense-rich milk flavor! It's like eating those japanese milk candies, frozen on a cone! After I finished the yummy ice cream, I indulged in a momentary fantasy of klepto-ing the soft-serve machine for my own creamy-licking pleasure whenever I want.
Also shared Arle Bakery's strawberry cream puff ($3.50) that held its crispy-flaky texture (I presume these puffs are made with a different pastry than the traditional choux, which tends to get soggy-soft pretty fast). The cream also had a rich-milk taste (not as strong as the ice cream though) and is also pretty light and airy texture-wise.
Finally, the red bean-glutinous rice ball ($2.00) or what I'd like to call a reverse-mochi, but the rice is still pretty whole and not pounded to a mochi-mush. And surprise, surprise, it tasted like a coarse red bean mochi! But one of those items ordered more for the novelty factor (especially when it's being freshly made at the stall) than taste.

Still early in the night but super-full, we decided to hit a sit-down beverage spot to chat, fight food coma and wash down our meal. We tried hitting Royal/T but discovered it's already closed, so went to another of my favorites, LA Mill, instead.

The four of us splitted two siphon-brewed coffees with mini burners cooking our brew right at our table (my more camera-savvy friend Jesse took some photos of the process from a previous get-together at his blog here). The varieties we chose were Black Onyx, a smooth, clean-tasting yet dark brew with chocolatey aromas, and the El Salvador Cup of Excellence, a bright and fairly bold cup with just small bite of spiciness. We loved the treat for our eyes and tastebuds during this whole time, and agreed a return trip is in order to try more of their joe (and also their delicious desserts; they are small portions, but we are still too full to try this time around.)

Delicious dreams swirled in the air that night as I slept, and I woke up already excited about the final leg of my food-tastic weekend . . . the DIFFA Dining by Design Table Hop & Taste! Stay tuned . . .


ila said...

the Hokkaido fair was so much fun, no? Must try LA mill soon... Maybe next time when I'm in the area for a sales run.

mattatouille said...

La Mill is solid, but I think it used to be even better when it started. Still, it's got wonderful decor inside.

H. C. said...

Ila, let me know if you're going on a weekend. More dishes (and desserts!) to taste & split ;) Did I mention I have a sweet tooth?

Matt, I only go to LA Mill occasionally, so can't really gauge if it was better or worse over the past year. But I am INFINITELY disappointed that they took out their dessert tasting option (but the manager said it may get restored with their next menu rotation -- crossing fingers and everything else on that)

Kat said...

Ooh the Torrance one looks good too. I am too lazy to drive up. Burumun and I only went to the Costa Mesa one. You should have came down to try and see if there is a difference. The Torrance location fried the croquettes in the booth? In Costa Mesa they brought it out from the back so they weren't fresh and hot. =*(

H. C. said...


Hey there, I've been to the Costa Mesa one before -- it's a bit smaller than the Torrance one (and crazier parking too).

As for the croquettes, I don't think they fry it at the booth at the Torrance one either. They were just sitting under heat lamps, but still delish -- now I really wish I got a crab bento!


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