From now til Sunday (6/13 to 6/16), Mitsuwa presents the Japanese Gourmet Food Fair at the Torrance, Costa Mesa and San Diego stores. They fly in chefs and special products from Japan for this four day delicious affair.
I went last year - see post here. I missed the special ramen last year, but this year I got in line when it opened its doors!
Luckily, this year I was met by Yumi-san from the Mitsuwa marketing department who talked to me about the fair. I don't speak Japanese so she was an interpreter and since she planned much of the fair, I appreciated her insight. Thanks Yumi!
First up, the special Sweet Pumpkin treat. You may think these are regular imagawayaki, but they are made with a very special batter. The batter incorporates tapioca flour and sweet potato flour for a more chewy texture! In addition, the fillings included traditional red bean (azuki) and unique flavors caramel and custard. I love chewy textures and these treats were delicious. ($2 each)
The chef pictured above is from Japan and came for the festival. After this festival in California, they will travel to Chicago and New Jersey for food festivals (6/20-6/23/2013). Did you know that the New Jersey store is mega big? It's the largest Mitsuwa store - complete with a free shuttle from New York! Has anyone gone to the NJ store?
These are popular Maki Dora or Rolled Dorayaki from the Anchin-do Shop in Japan. Oh my goodness. Besides being so pretty, these are so delicious! The pancake is very light and the filling is heavenly.
Anything that has the label "This taste warms the cockles of the heart" is a winner in my book.
You can get them filled with red beans, custard cream, green tea, or black sesame. The green tea is intense (these were my overall favorite treat), and the black sesame is rich. Handmade in front of you all day. These are only at the Torrance store this year. ($2 each)
The Japanese food company Amochinmi brings fried fish cakes (they are fried up on-site at Mitsuwa all day) ($1.75 each). You can find fish cakes and 12 different croquettes filled with all sorts of ingredients such as crab, pumpkin (kabocha), mushroom, corn, potatoes ($1.50-$2.30 each). I picked up the pumpkin one, as well as a pumpkin steamed Oyaki (yes, kabocha is one of my favorite flavors!)
Last year, the Torrance store had the Fugetsu-Do filled waffles. The photo above is from last year. They are back this year - but only at the Costa Mesa store ($2-$2.50 each). If you are in Orange County, I would definitely visit. These treats were my favorite last year! In addition, the Costa Mesa store has Takoyaki (octopus balls) ($6.90 pack)
All the ingredients except for rice and some meats are flown in from Japan for the festival. Different types of gourmet sushi are prepared by Japanese chefs. Mackerel Sushi ($11.90), Seafood Sushi Bento Box (being prepared by the chef above, $15.90), Crab Gokai Roll Sushi ($9.90).
There are a lot of gourmet sushi sets. Last year, I bought the crab inari sushi ($11.90), and I will probably pick up the crab chirashi tomorrow for lunch ($11.90). All made on-site all day.
They have Japanese packaged items for sale as well. They have a lot of special noodles...and most of them have someone's face on them, and that cracked me up. Premium udons ($4.90 each) and Sanuki udon ($3.59-$6.90 each).
Mitsuwa sets up these special food areas in the middle of the store - while totally awesome, it can get super crowded. :) Products do sell out since they are brought in from Japan in limited quantities...so if you see something, buy it. Yumi said that they are getting more and more non-Japanese foodies and interested parties coming to the fairs. The staff is bilingual (except for those who came from Japan for the fair) so feel free to ask questions.
Mitsuwa Marketplace in Torrance has a large food court area. You can always find something delicious to eat (Torrance's plaza has the very popular and well reviewed Santouka Ramen). During the food fairs, a special ramen is served (I learned that Mitsuwa owns the Katsuhana ramen stall and they have the chef take over the space during the festival).
This year, Chef Kenji Chiba of the famed Kamome-Shokudo in Yokohama is serving “Kesennuma Ramen Ushio Aji (Salt)” for this event. The broth is made from seafood and chicken bones. Topped with chashu pork, bamboo shoots, nori, green onions and a half boiled egg (definitely get it with the egg - that is a perfect topper!) ($10.90 with egg, $9.90 without). They flew in three Japanese staff to assist Chef Chiba.
They are also serving a small salmon bowl with sesame soy sauce (I didn't get that...too much to eat!) ($3.80)
Anyone who has been to Japan knows Blue Seal ice cream. They are selling vanilla soft serve for $2.50...but I couldn't find space in my tummy for this after eating sooo much...
The fair is held from June 13-16, 2013 in Torrance, Costa Mesa and San Diego. It'll be in Chicago and New Jersey from June 20-23, 2013. Note: Not everything shown is available in all stores. More information about the Mitsuwa Gourmet Food Fair: http://www.mitsuwa.com/event/eevent.php?e=37
If you don't have a Mitsuwa near you...I honestly feel bad for you. But I learned today at Mitsuwa has an online store that ships Japanese products to your door. Too bad they can't send you those Maki Dora treats though.
Disclosure: I was not compensated for this post. My meeting with the marketing department was informational. I purchased my own food and ramen at Mitsuwa. It was yummy! Go!