Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Special Forces

Little Tokyo is not only a great place to get a cherry haircut; it's also the new home of a ramen chain that has thus far been mainly limited to the South Bay with a couple of outposts in the San Gabriel Valley. Shinsengumi: a much needed addition to the downtown noodle scene that will no doubt serve to satisfy the hunger of even the fiercest Ronin. Named after an elite police squad of the late shogunate period (who are most famously known for preventing the burning of Kyoto), Shinsengumi likewise protects their long tradition of serving excelente Hakata style ramen. As loyal CCB readers know, this hearty regional variety is characterized by a rich, milky pork bone broth (which at Shinsengumi is meticulously checked using a refractometer) and thin, straight (non-curly) noodles.
I tallied up the signature C.P.C: Hakata ramen with crispy pork ear, poached huevo (I got marinated hard-boiled for some reason), and fried onions. All ordering here is done on a 'golf card' with rows for each member of your party to choose: ramen type, firmness of noodles, amount of oil, strength of soup base, and any omissions along with a myriad of toppings from corn to cod roe
While gawking at the patterned countertop, my steamy bowl was plopped down front and center complete with the core components: pickled ginger, cebolettas, and chasu puerco. All I had left to do was place the toppings and go to town.
Pure crackly goodness. I must admit that I may be a bit too prone to having fanciful thoughts when dining on comida such as this, but with Halloween on the horizon it seems apropos. Shinsengumi would make a robust final meal for any forlorn samurai required to commit seppuku although it would make a terrible, yet slightly humorous mess. While a more modern wayward soul might have their fill of this amazing stuff at the Tokyo location before setting off forever into the mythical Sea of Trees. Whatever you do get some Shinsengumi before it gets you...

Friday, October 14, 2011

Border Patrol

I once thought the center of the universe was most assuredly located at the intersection of 6th and Mission in San Francisco. Never before had I felt such insane magnetism and outright unpredictability. I now know this notion to be a folly and suspect that the true hub of the cosmos lies in a much more serene (albeit hotter) environment. San Ysidro, California, the last bastion to browse through endless retail stores before heading south into the equally vast reaches of the Baja Peninsula. Stashed away under the 905 freeway lies the site in question, a well-stocked liquor store with a parking lot host that will knock your 'swap meet' socks off and leave you dreaming for more.
Complete with a few working payphones and the ever pleasant rattle of light rail, Mariscos German must of used some sort of celestial divining rod to find where to best chock their wheels. The menu here is extensive: ceviches, cocteles, clamatos, caldos, and even some sabrosa carne asada to keep things honest. 
Whatever delectable direction you choose to take, all orders come with a spicy seafood broth that will warm up the taste buds in a hurry. Typically there is a prawn or two to be found floating in your cup, which is mostly for flavor in my opinion, but if you're starvin' como Marvin take the extra step and suck away.
For me, it seems, the intergalactic concourse is all about the tacos de pescado: precisely fried white fish in a warm tortilla simply topped with shredded cabbage, pico de gallo, and crema. It would be tough task to find a contender for these magnifico plugs on either side of the border...muy bueno. It may be that our perception of time is determined by our personal inner clocks. Being that the center of the universe is relative to our own limited travels through the ether. Er, right...I'm just glad to have pinpointed its source once again, at least for now.