Kendo and Ramen

Cherry Blossom Festival

Today I went down to Little Tokyo to grab some ramen for lunch, and happened upon the Cherry Blossom Festival. I only stayed a little while, to see some sumo and kendo performances.

I got there late for the sumo unfortunately, but I did get to see a few matches where Dan Kalbfleisch wiped the floor with some other guys.

The kendo demonstration started with sensei Cary Yoshio Mizobe performing tameshigiri—cutting a tatami omote with a katana. His students went on from there to show off their moves with shinai. Sensei Mizobe was explaining one of the moves: tsuki, a stab to the throat apparently difficult enough that he only lets his black belt students perform it, to lessen the risk of not having enough precision and injuring the opponents. He said he was hired to train Brittany Murphy to perform it for her new movie, The Ramen Girl. The only problem is, they wanted him to train her on this advanced move in eight hours. His only advice was to totally fake it out with camera tricks, or risk injury. Thought that was funny :)

Odd new ramen place in Little Tokyo

Just tried this new ramen place inside Weller Court called Chin-Ma-Ya of Tokyo, right below the infamous Orochon Ramen. Their specialty is tan tan men, a fusion of ramen with Chinese dan dan mian. They serve it with three levels of spice, and I ordered the spiciest “original”. The broth was good – very thick and murky, lots of good flavor, and adequately spicy. It lost a bit in the toppings, coming with ground beef, ground pork, and only a few stray bits of spinach. I got a side of gyoza, which while not the worst I’ve had where definitely far from the best.

But where it really failed was the noodles. The first bite immediately made me think of something I never thought would come to mind in a ramen place: my mom baking cookies. Curiously taking another bite, I tasted it again. The flavor was almost like unsweetened cookie dough. I’m usually down for trying new things, some flavors need to just grow on you. But after eating half the bowl I couldn’t take any more – the heaviness of the noodles combined with such a strange flavor was too much for me.

Looks like Daikokuya gets to keep their crown, with San Sui Tei coming in second if the Daikokuya line is unbearably long. Last time I went to San Sui Tei, they cooked up some fresh chocolate-filled mochi balls for me. Not sure if they will be the norm or if they where testing them on me as a recurring customer, but they where good!