Asa Ramen [Gardena]

Asa Ramen is a late night local favorite. The idea of having ramen, alcohol, and being open late is a great combination. There aren’t too many places like Asa Ramen.

Asa Ramen’s menu.

I was dragged here after some drinks one night. I wasn’t even that hungry. But my buddy said that they had great Takoyaki – which is Japanese fried Octopus balls. I like Takoyaki. . .but I wasn’t that hungry for it. But then he says its a ramen, then I was like – well ok, I’m in. It’s the simple things in life that make the world go ’round.

Our order of Takoyaki came first. We soon gobbled couple of those up. They were as expected. Creamy on the inside with the slight crusty deep fried shell. The light fish flakes on top with the sauce on top. I think the sauce is the standard tonkatsu sauce. It was what you expect. Which is good. Unexpected things didn’t happen. Those are the types of thins you remember vividly. You would remember if the octopus was too chewy – but that didn’t happen. You’d tell any soul that would listen if the fried batter was undercooked – but that didn’t happen. You would twitter about about the sauce being too overpowering – but that didn’t happen. The takoyaki was as expected. It was fine.

Then we had our ramen. I’ve never had ramen with butter. It’s always had a little more “fatty-ness”, meaning pork fat or lard, as I have ordered at other ramen houses. But Asa ramen offers it with butter. I thought that was interesting. I had to get it. The ramen noodles were ok, not exceptional. But it was the egg that fascinated me. I don’t know how they do it, but they have a hardboiled egg with the yolk a bit on the gooey side. The egg white is completely solid with the yolk runny enough where it mixes with the soup base and noodles into creamy goodness. I love eggs. I would love to learn how to do that.

Anyways. . . Asa ramen is a nice little place to go for ramen and takoyaki.

Check out the egg. Not sure if you can see, but the yolk is not cooked all the way through. It is still runny.

A traditional presentation.

Open till 2am

Another shot of the menu.

The mini mall signage.

The takoyaki – octopus balls.

Look! Some cool looking bowls!

Small but cozy.

Look! More cool bowls!

2 pigs, $

Asa Ramen
18202 S Western Ave
Gardena, CA 90248
(310) 769-1010

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Asa Ramen in Los Angeles

Shin Sen Gumi [Gardena]

Since I have been thinking of Japanese food lately, I thought I would continue on this path. Shin Sen Gumi has a small chain of specialty Japanese restaurants all throughout the LA area. They have ramen houses, chanko nabe, shabu-shabu, and yakitori. This particular Shin Sen Gumi specializes in yakitori.

Look for this large paper lantern. Most often you’ll see a crowd waiting for a table.

I have been going to this particular Shin Sen Gumi for years. I usually come just once a year. Shin Sen Gumi and its different variations make this trek to South Bay’s Japantown worth it. This is a local favorite for Asians in-the-know. But I’ve been told that the yakitori was better before. But I can’t tell the difference.

Shin Sen Gumi is not a fancy place. Its not uber clean place. It doesn’t boast Michelin Stars. It is hole-in-the-wall that locals claim their own. Though not cheap, it is well worth the money as well as the wait. But I do suggest getting reservations.

Yakitori is skewers of tapas serving sized meats and vegetables. Beef, pork, chicken are the popular animals used. Mushrooms and onions are the vegetables. There the chicken breast, the beef tongue, the bacon wrapped (everything), ground chicken balls, etc. Several of my friends will go through servings after servings of the beef tongue. If you aren’t used to it, I strongly suggest you try it. I think its pretty good. My personal favorites are the chicken skin, bacon wrapped tomatoes, and bacon wrapped quail eggs. I also like the chicken cartilage – it has a get texture.

You can’t come to this place without drinking. They have all sorts of beer and sake. This type of food goes great with beer. Good food. Great beer. All with good people.

This cabbage is sort of the appetizer that they give you.

Spinach appetizer. Simple and good. I think the sauce is sort of a ponzo sauce.

This was my un-fried rice ball. I didn’t want to wait for a fried one. I am not a big fan of the fried rice balls.

Fried Chicken Karaage.

Sausage on skewers. Not that good.

Pork. I believe this might be pork belly sliced on skewers.

Octopus balls. I love these things.

Bacon wrapped asparagus.

Ground Chicken balls.

Egg Side dish. I thin there was pork inside.

Beef Tongue.

Chicken Skin.

Chicken Breast.

A fried rice ball. I think it is too hard. I like my rice soft.

Bacon Wrapped onions.

Bacon wrapped quail eggs

Bacon wrapped tomatoes.

Their menu.

2 pigs, $$

Shin Sen Gumi Yakitori
18617 S Western
Gardena, CA 90247
(310) 715-1588

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Shin Sen Gumi Yakitori in Los Angeles

Five Guys [South Bay]

A decent burger from the East Coast, Five Guys Burgers and Fries, makes its way to my stomach. Though the image of the burger is not appetizing . . .almost looks like a sad burger, it is actually a pretty good burger.

As you walk in, you notice the permanent fixtures of self-promotion on the walls. The splashes of Zagat mentions, GQ articles, and other news items heavily make this fast food joint into a billboard spammer’s space. But that aside, my online research pointed to Five Guys as a hamburger contender to In-N-Out, here in Southern California.

I wanted, make that I NEEDED, to try Five Guys. Even with its simple of menu of burgers with cheese and/or with bacon, I still wasn’t’ sure what I wanted. But I settled on the usual burger, fries, and a Sprite.

The burger, a double with cheese was suggested with “All The Way” – a pre-selected toppings choice. All The Way included mushrooms, mustard, ketchup, lettuce, tomatoes, pickles, and mayonnaise. I must say the pickles were my favorite – crisp and tangy. Personally, I think burgers need the lettuce and tomatoes for balance of savory, little sweetness, and refreshnesses. I think the cheese could have been melted a bit more. I could have done without the mushrooms, thought I think it was a more than generous portion. The bread buns were not too big, but were almost a bit mushy with all the wet condiments and the slight dampness from the tin foil. I could see the burger being soggy if it was a to-go order. Overall, I did like it and I would come back again for the burger.

But the fries . . . I had the cajun fries which were a bit spicy, but not too spicy. They were quite tasty, a taste I almost forgot with all-the-rage of sweet potato fries, in the last few years. In fact, I would prefer cajun-spices fries over sweet potato ones any day. Yeah. . .make sure you get the cajun fries – you can’t go wrong with them.

Too bad Five Guys are in far away places like Cerritos and Carson. I hope that they learn about the great markets in Pasadena, Downtown LA, etc. . .

3 pigs, $

Five Guys Burgers and Fries
20700 Avalon Blvd
Carson, CA 90746
(310) 515-7700

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Five Guys Burgers and Fries in Los Angeles

Guilianos [Gardena]

One day for lunch, I selected to get sandwiches from Guilianos Delicatessen and Bakery, in Gardena. Open for over 50 years, this is the classic deli featuring cold cut meats, cheese, and sandwiches.

I decide to try the crumbled meatball sandwich. This hot sandwich was really good. With the melted cheese and the spiced meatball the sandwich tasted really good. It could have used a little more spiciness or something – but was still good. The best part of the sandwich was the bread. The bread was not hard at all, and went quite well with the meat of the sandwich. I will be willing to try the soups and cold sandwiches in the future – perhaps the crumbled Italian sausage.

I was also able to try the their famous torpedo. This simple sandwich – their original torpedo is sold by the boatloads. They have readily packed for customers lining up. All their other sandwiches are made to order. This traditional sandwich comes with Mortadella, Cotto salami, Italian salami, Capocollo, Provolone cheese, peperoncini & crisp lettuce. Served on a fresh Torpedo roll. I don’t know what half of these ingredients are, but they are good. It is packed without any condiments. I suggest some mustard and mayo to add some flavor. I personally like a lot of mustard and mayo. I also will have some pepperoncini as well, to give it a kick.

I realize after all these years, my tolerance for spicy foods is improving. I used to know be able to eat spicy foods – but nowadays I will add some spice to most everything I eat.

Each of these sandwiches are reasonably priced and I would be willing to try all the other sandwiches, if i had the chance. I also wish they had more locations – like in Pasadena.

Giuliano’s Delicatessen
1138 West Gardena Boulevard
Gardena, CA 90247
(310) 323-6990

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Giuliano's Delicatessen in Los Angeles