The blistering heat in Los Angeles kept me in air-conditioned rooms for most of the summer, so this was the first weekend I ventured out to the last of SoCal's string of seasonal Japanese festivals. Shinsengumi, a yakitori restaurant in Gardena, held a very tasty event in their parking lot and along with plenty of grilled eats and icy beverages there was plenty of dancing and merriment to go around throughout the evening.
Rameniac picked up this rare item, a kiwi-lemon flavored Calpis. Of course, Calpis is the same as Calpico, everyone's favorite pseudo-yogurty drink. ("Calpis" just doesn't sound to appetizing to most Americans.) Apparently, it looked better than it tasted.
I heard the tonkotsu ramen ($5) on sale was especially good but when I got to the booth it was already sold out. Boo~ So I settled for a plate of yakisoba. Could have used some crunchy burnt pieces but, heck, I jogged earlier in the day and I was starved.
A group of us combined our piggy bank money and bought a handful of chicken skewers (10 sticks for $15). This time we weren't deceived. They were juicy and delightful.
And then came the squid pieces with its beautifully turgid tentacles. It's usually doused with a mixture of soy sauce, sake and mirin and then grilled over an open flame. One of the legs tried getting away but I stabbed him with my chopstick just in time.
Japanese festivals are free and open to the public, though few people outside the community seem to know about them. But maybe that's their intention? After all, Wat Thai Temple in North Hollywood was doing perfectly fine until hipsters (i.e., anyone outside the ethnic enclave) caught wind of their Sunday food fest and started coming over in droves. Then the neighborhood had parking issues, and now the temple has decided to cancel the festival altogether. So if you don't mind, I'd like to keep this one to myself and the hundreds of other people there. Though if you're so inclined, you can pick up the info in one of those magazines sitting outside Sawtelle's Nijiya market.
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