>> Tomizo Ramen | Eat the World Los Angeles

Monday, 11 July 2022

Tomizo Ramen

JAPAN 🇯🇵
(HOKKAIDO)
Redondo Beach Blvd. facade via Google Street View

COVID-19 UPDATE: The restaurant is open for indoor dining. Some screens are still up between tables and the counter seating.

While you can drive all over the Southland consuming the same uninspiring bowl of tonkotsu ramen (every once in a while sublime), finding the regional styles of Japan takes a bit more work. A few exist here and there, in downtown's Little Tokyo, Torrance, or in this case one of Gardena's busy main thoroughfares Redondo Beach Blvd.

While a ramen-ya might usually be tucked into an alley or closes its windows to remain darker inside, Tomizo lets the light in and seems just as business-like as the boulevard it faces. But do not let this, or the usual lack of Japanese folks inside deter you, for some special ramen styles from the northern island region of Hokkaido.

Napkins, chopsticks, and seasonings

In fact, this word Hokkaido is featured on the sign as an advertisement with the specialties found inside. The restaurant opened in 2020 and is not affiliated with a chain over there, but the owner and chef decided that the miso ramen from Hokkaido was his favorite after sampling styles from all over Japan for 40 years.

These are of course what should be focused on, although there is not a lot of other choices thankfully; the shop keeps its menu tight to what it does best. In addition to a regular and spicy version of the most famous Sapporo miso ramen, the chef adds a mixing ramen (mazemen), dipping ramen (tsukemen), and two Hokkaido specialties that are the highlights of the house.

Hand made gyoza

Before getting to these bowls, you can confidently order the well-executed sides which are far from afterthoughts. A long plate of hand made gyoza ($6, above) are thin skinned and fried just right to start a char on one side. They also do a deep-fried version if you are in the mood, as well as ones with a generous spread of cilantro heaped on top.

Karaage chicken ($7.50, below) is just as well done and should be enjoyed completely without the plain mayo it comes with. Squeeze the lemon wedge for a bit of sharpness to cut the light oil, and ask for one of the specialty mayonnaises if you cannot live life without dipping.

Karaage chicken

The Sapporo classic miso is listed first on the menu, but the most special item is by far the miso butter corn scallop ramen ($16.50, below), a combination of these listed ingredients served in a big red bowl. Three large scallops are joined with corn and a hefty wedge of butter that should be mixed in while the miso-based broth is still hot.

You will recognize the butter and sweet corn from bowls of ramen if you have ever eaten much in Hokkaido, they both show up here and there and are somewhat standard features in the region. Seafood bowls are just as popular, with squid and scallops leading the way, but this creation seems to be a combination of everything, and the South Bay is better for having it around.

Miso butter corn scallop ramen

The broth is already rich before mixing, but only gets more so when the butter melts and the murky flavors of the sea infuse from the scallops. The chewy, wavy noodles found underneath everything are common to Hokkaido ramen styles and are perfect for this bowl.

They do not only eat miso ramen in Hokkaido, as proven by the bowl of shoyu ramen ($11.50, below) made here in the style of the city of Asahikawa. This city further north of Sapporo is the second largest on the island and has the famous Asahikawa Ramen Village, which features some of the city's best ramen-yas in one place for visitors to sample.

Asahikawa shoyu ramen

The soy sauce-based ramen of the city is known for being a bit oily, and the version at Tomizo Ramen indeed comes out with a nice slick layer on the top. Open up the perfectly cooked egg as soon as the bowl comes to enjoy the oozing yolk before it cooks further in the pork, chicken, and dashi broth. The ramen noodles used here are a similar thickness but straight.

July might not seem like the best month to sample the ramen styles from Japan's northernmost region, but they do not stop eating it there so you do not have to here. Only open for dinner, the cool evening breezes of the South Bay will have to do for building the ramen cravings. After that first sip, you will wonder why you even considered not eating ramen today.

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