The Return of the Ramen Burger
Photo by Keizo Shimamoto
If you missed the previous incarnation of Keizo Shimamoto's ramen burger pop-up, for lack of a better term (cultural mash-up? art installation? rip in the space-time continuum?), you have someplace to be this Sunday, Nov. 10. Specifically the Mitsuwa market in Torrance, where Shimamoto will again be serving up his absurdly popular ramen burgers, which, for the uninitiated, are exactly what they sound like.
Back in September, eons ago from a food-trend perspective, Shimamoto brought his ramen burgers to the same market -- and about 1,200 people showed up. Fortunately, they were in a large grocery store, so there was plenty of food to buy after the burgers ran out. Shimamoto's team estimated that people waited in line for four hours for the 500 burgers that they'd made. Do the math.
This time around, the ramen burger team will be distributing wristbands at 9 a.m. in anticipation of an 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. run. Which will, at least in theory, give everybody a schedule and, I guess, time to get the morning's shopping done.
The ramen burgers go for $8 for the original, a dollar more for the ramen burger with cheese. (Your Pulp Fiction joke here: _____.) The burgers will be made in Mitsuwa's test kitchen. And there will be decent enough parking, considering that you're in a big market anyway.
So what is this ramen burger? The pan-fried "bun" is made from ramen noodles, fresh rather than instant, in a technique that is, according to Shimamoto, a trade secret. The burger is 100% Angus beef, and topped with scallions and arugula and a soy-based sauce (four hours, also mysterious). The cheese, if you're opting for it, will be white American -- which is kind of hilarious if you think about it. Put all this together and you have, as you might expect, a pretty tasty hybrid of two of the most obsessed-about foods out there and, I'm sorry, something that's a lot more delicious than deep-fried laminated dough.
Shimamoto has gotten lots of press since he started his ramen burger tour, appearing not only in Southern California grocery stores but also on GMA, The Today Show, in a short film (Ramen Dreams), and at the Feirinha Gastronomica in São Paulo, Brazil. Which would seem to indicate that he'll be back, if waiting at line at Mitsuwa isn't your idea of fun. Or you could always drive two miles up Western and try Jidaiya's version of the ramen burger. Why not try them both?
Get the Squid Ink'd Newsletter
Sign up for our weekly food newsletter, which features top local food news and events, plus interviews with chefs and restaurant owners, dining tips and a link to our print review.