Sake Gumi
For some god foresaken reason, Roach and I were inspired to take a bus to Mitsuwa, all the way out in buttfuck Jersey the day after Thanksgiving. I don't know what it was-- fantasies of all the food shopping possibilities, or simply the food court extravaganza-- that lured us to make the trek. Whatever it was, we were on the 11:30am bus. I was supposed to be sleeping, in a food coma all day for fucks sake. Damn Mitsuwa.

Mitsuwa is a very large chain Japanese grocery store that is scattered all around the east and west coasts. My mom practically lives at the one in Santa Clara. I'm not kidding. It's where she can buy her matsutake mushrooms, Shiseido shampoo, a rice cooker and rent videos of Japanese TV shows all in one place. It's like she never left Japan. It's sick.

There's a convenient shuttle bus out of Port Authority for all of us Japanese people (or just Japan-crazy people, or just suburban-grocery store crazy people, or just the foodie crazed people) to take to get to Mitsuwa-- can you believe it? A bus specifically to take us to Mitsuwa, in Jersey?? Ain't America grand???

We got there in time for lunch (just as planned), and all the food stalls tempted us with their plastic replicas of the food encased right next to the register (so Japan!). Why don't American restaurants do this? It's really quite ingenious.

Although all the plastic meals looked tempting (soba, sanuki udon, katsu, tempura, etc. etc.), we both couldn't resist Santouka Ramen.

The above "set" menu (plastic) of a bowl of ramen and a small bowl of ikura (salmon roe) over rice, PLUS a wonderfully soy seasoned hard boiled egg was only $11. It's a good price, and perfect for someone like me who can never decide whether to go noodle or rice. I'm all about carb overload- bring it on.

I had Santouka once at the LA Mitsuwa after reading all the raves via Oishii Eats and my friend Jim. It's an extremely rich pork soup base, but really quenches that thirst for a good bowl of ramen (read- good, not the best).

Below pics are not plastic- they are the real thing. Could you tell?

If you like a really hearty soup, you'll enjoy this. The chashu pork slices were flavorful, and not too fatty, like at Menkui-Tei.

The noodles were floury, which isn't my favorite, but I would say that the noodles themselves were better than that of Setagaya.

My ikura don- nothing to complain about here:

I didn't take a picure of the egg, which was the best part. It was dark brown, it had been stewing for so long. Mmmm, so good.

It took us about 15 minutes to slurp and chew. To work off all that we ate, we walked just a few feet to the sprawling jungle of a megastore specializing in all things Japanese-- produce, condiments, kobe beef, facial masks-- all under one sturdy roof. In the end, 3 hours and less $70 in the bank later, we were ready to go home.

I am from Cupertino, California. I am a suburban girl at heart. I love this shit.


  • OMG Kayo I can’t believe you went to Mitsuwa without me. And ate the same thing I ate there. I’d been meaning to blog about that ramen for about 6 months. My 2 cents about the ramen would be that after the first 10 bites, the broth has left such a thick film of grease over your tongue and around your mouth that you can’t taste anything anymore. It seemed like the greatest bowl of ramen at the beginning, but by the end I felt sick.

    ayagwa on

  • I just went there as well! I had the ikura don and ramen combo too (even though it’s kind of weird) and found the noodles nice and chewy. SO CHEAP. Except for the screaming kids everywhere what a great place for a quick bite.

    Sonja on

  • I don’t know. Nothing really sticks in my head about the noodles there, but yeah, the soup was a little too rich, and that’s saying alot coming from Mr. Orson-Welles-Level-of-Gluttony.

    tmonkey on

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