Is it ramen weather? It is decidedly not, nor is it likely to be next weekend in Torrance, but you're just going to have to suck it up (literally, in this case) anyway, at least if you truly love ramen. Because next Saturday and Sunday you have someplace to be, namely the Torrance Cultural Arts Center, where the first annual Ramen Yokocho Fest is being held.
It's a two-day ramen festival orchestrated by the L.A.-based Japanese magazine Weekly LALALA (not to be confused with this publication, which is, sadly, not in Japanese) in celebration of their tenth anniversary. Congratulations! And happy noodling to us all.
The event, which will take place from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. both days, is bringing together a dozen noted ramen specialists, not only favorites from Los Angeles but from Japan, San Jose, Hawaii and Las Vegas. Tsujita L.A., Jidaiya, Daikokuya, Hayatemaru, Ikemen, Iroha and Silverlake Ramen are the local vendors coming; Kitakata Ramen Bannai is coming from Japan; Gomaichi from Hawaii; Monta from Las Vegas; and Orenchi and Shalala from San Jose.
If you want more than ramen, Hannosuke will also be there serving their celebrated ten-don and Tsujita will have sushi as well as bowls of noodles, which will include both ramen and tsukemen. And lucky, lucky you, in what we're told is a festival exclusive, Jidaiya will be serving ramen burgers. (Right. Get in your car, okay?)
Both entrance to the festival -- billed as the "largest ramen festival in the U.S. -- and parking are free, and bowls of ramen will run you $8. A serious bargain, really. Just close your eyes and pretend you're at Yokohama's ramen museum, which is probably as close as most of us are going to get anytime soon. A trip down to Torrance, even in this miserable heat, being a lot easier than a flight to Narita.
If you can't make it or you want more of this sort of thing, there's a second Ramen Yokocho Fest coming up -- and you don't even have to wait until next year. On Saturday, Oct. 19 a second festival is being held at the Rio Hotel in Las Vegas. Finally, an actual reason to head to Sin City.