Saturday, May 29, 2010

Mitsuwa's Japanese food fair spotlights hard-to-find street food

Takoyaki (octopus dumpling) makers cry out a welcoming chant as they cook.

Mitsuwa Market's Japanese food fair is going on Saturday and Sunday at the Torrance and Costa Mesa locations. I stopped by the Torrance location last night as the vendors were winding down around 7 pm, but I still got a chance to taste a few snacks that aren't commonly available in L.A. Because they're more unusual items, most of the snacks are pricier than typical street food, and the booths are cash only. Don't expect a huge food festival; it's a few booths in the middle of the market, but it's certainly worth checking out if you have to be in the area anyway, as I did yesterday.
Among the other offerings are fresh inari sushi with crab meat, seafood bento boxes with roe and uni; and beef tongue ramen, which I really wanted to try, but it's not available to go.

These special "double rich sweet potatoes" are rare and expensive.
They're available cooked over hot rocks at about $6 per potato, cut into sticks that are sweetened with syrup, in a mango dessert or in a sweet potato-apple pie.

If the sweet potatoes are too rich for your blood, try the freshly-made fish cakes at just $1.80 each, available in lots of flavors including cod roe, cheese, octopus and sardine. The octopus/scallion ones were much nicer than the fish cakes I've had in Little Tokyo.

The packaging for the takoyaki (octopus balls) is exquisite, with a special octopus design on the bags and neat cardboard boxes. The takoyaki were softer and more delicate than the ones I've had at izakayas, with larger pieces of fresh octopus in the middle. At first I didn't like them, but their custardy-softness grew on me and by the end of the box, I was a fan.
I capped off my snackfest with a green tea tiramisu from the bakery/Japanese spaghetti stall.


DailyChef said...

I wish I was back in LA right now! The Mitsuwa food court is amazing in normal times, and this food fair sounds delicious.

Exile Kiss said...

Hi Pat,

Thanks for your thoughts on the Umaimono Fair. :) I'm sad you weren't able to try the 2 guest Ramen Shops that were invited (Chibaki-Ya and Ippudo). Hopefully next year they return and you can give'em a try. :) said...

i agree its hard to find street food here, thanks for the nice content on it

Mike Tanner said...

I love takoyaki.
I found an authentic food cart wandering around in Little Tokyo and it made my day.