Sunday, July 18, 2010

Croquer: Yatai Ramen Twist @ Breadbar

In a moment when mobile eateries are king, an even more transient trend is burgeoning just under the surface: the pop-up restaurant. Pioneered over the years by underground dinner parties like Portland's Family Supper and high-brow "guerilla" residencies such as LudoBites, pop-ups may not be anything new, just surprisingly rare in this city obsessed with the next best meal. That's why I was so delighted to see West Third bakery/cafe Breadbar's schedule of takeovers throughout the summer. I recently made it to Chefs Kazuo Shimamura and Noriyuki Sugie of Ironnori Concepts' "Yatai Ramen Twist", now in its last week for their classic versions -and modern twists- on the popular Japanese street food.
Through July 24th, (Mondays - Saturdays from 5-10pm), Shimamura will create authentic fresh ramen dishes, from classic Shio Ramen to indulgent Foie Gras Ramen. Also on the menu are Gyoza, Boba Tea, and Sugie's own fair-trade Kuromame ("black bean") coffee.
The summer evening I visited Yatai was rather cool, so soup felt refreshingly appropriate. While I waited for my friends to join (who stopped to pick up beer per my server's suggestion - Breadbar is BYO), I ordered the Kale Gyoza, which were extra crispy and earthy delicious.
From the Twist Ramen menu I chose the Ox tail Ramen, a pungent broth scented with truffle oil, carrying marinated eggs and a sheet of nori atop a massive section of bone-in braised tail. The meat tenderly fell from the bone and was rather lovely, but overall the intense fermented flavor profile of the dish did not win over my palate. I respectfully ordered another ramen, this time the Spicy Pork Curry, a rich consommé broth loaded with delicious shredded pork. Britt's Shoyu Ramen was robust from the aged soy, while Ashley's Tomato Ramen (the one veggie option) was light and somewhat underwhelming.
The stellar service however is what set this experience apart from other bittersweet dining ventures. The two servers running the entire shop were deft, graceful, and light-spirited, casually joking when appropriate, and quick on their feet to satisfy every need of ours. It truly felt like a family supper in the end, all the way to our departure at closing time, catching the two dancing while they tidied up inside. As we stood up from our patio residence chef Shimamura appeared to ask us if we enjoyed ourselves. We had, and with that the scale was tipped. The walk to the car was one of satisfaction, loaded with the added privilege of a glimpse into Yatai's authentic beating heart.

Space is limited for Yatai | Ramen Twist.
Call 310.205.0124 or visit for reservations
Monday-Saturday from 5-10pm until July 24th
8718 West 3rd St. 310.205.0124
Yatai Ramen at Breadbar in Los Angeles on Fooddigger

1 comment:

  1. I loved the spicy miso ramen I had there -- was actually tempted to go back again before the run was over!