“I’ve heard about you.”
Ever hear those words echo in the back of your head?
Every time we encounter something new (be it a person, place or thing) there’s this pre-determined perception we already have just before we try it. Sometimes it’s nice, while other times it isn’t pleasant by a long shot.
There’s a certain point in one’s life (or professional career in this case) that everyone’s biggest hurdle to overcome is their biggest critics. Professionals in their industry, people who use their products (or services), and of course we won’t forget the never satisfied (always looking for a reason to complain; even for entertainment or without purpose) individual(s) we like to call “haters.”
In this particular case, the “haters” or at least a better adjective would be “harsh critics” in this case are the staff and particularly head chef Sakai of Ton-Chan Ramen. Before we get to that, let’s back track as to why Mr. Sakai heavily believes in his cause…
Like everyone else in the foodie scene, after reading about this place from several websites, it’s about time I checked it out. I came here with my friend (and associate) J-Mal, to have a small lunch and conduct the review/interview for this place.
Going inside you realize you only have three options and they make it clear from the get-go:
They also have a Spicy Ramen Challenge (just like Orochon Ramen of Little Tokyo; Los Angeles, CA)
Within 15 minutes we got the following orders:
The base components of all their ramen are as follows: Neboshi and bonito flakes (making it the natural MSG bi-product), with kumbo seaweed with soy sauce, your choice of noodles (egg noodles or flour noodles), and pork and chicken bone stock from scratch (originally pork head according to Chef Sakai).
Along with an array of optional toppings: Chashu, green onions, egg, nori (kumbo) seaweed, corn, bok choy, bean sprouts and kikurage mushrooms.
After our meal Chef Sakai sat down and gave us an inside scoop as to why he wasn’t impressed with Ramen in the U.S. but especially with Ramen spots here in Southern California with these specific quotes:
*”People in LA, they have been eating Ramen for 10 years, which is instant Ramen for 10 years, they think (that’s the real ramen). So I, didn’t like that, so we have to… place the real you know… from Japan. We have to let them know.”
“This is the evidence… you don’t see this *points at coagulation in the bowl* they’re fake.”
“We’re the only one doing this way to make the soup… in the U.S. I guess.”
With bold and confident remarks, this forced me to reflect on the numerous Ramen spots I’ve visited in the past. Have I been duped by higher quality “instant soup?” Should I become an expatriate and teach in the next semester of JET (Japanese Exchange and Teaching program) in order to taste real ramen (and other Japanese delicacies)? My world has flipped upside down at this point, reinforcing my acceptance as a Foodoofus and abandoning my previous moniker as the Top Raw Man (not so top-notch in noodle info).
Chef Sakai, happily invited us to take a peak at his culinary work station and here’s a peak at some of the secrets behind Ton-Chan’s authentic Japanese touch; Neboshi, ordered straight from Japan and custom-made noodles to supplement the ingredients of this Japanese classic from Kyushu:
After confiding in us their tricks of the trade, we (J-Mal and I) left Ton-Chan satisfied full of knowledge and delicious ramen.
If there’s one thing to take away from all this its…
“If you don’t make proper ramen stock from scratch, the Japanese will cut you down faster than 13 Assassins for hire.” – Foodoofus
*- Like always until we have permission, we won’t post the full interview until a later date, also expect a part two from the owner’s perspective as to why Ton-Chan is worth checking out.
Lastly, again thank you to all those who have been patient and constantly reading new updates to this blog. Thanks to the staff of Ton-Chan Ramen and J-Mal for taking the pictures during the interview. I’ll make a better effort next week to release it more timely on Friday morning in case, there are any “hiccups” again. Have a great weekend.
Link to Interview: https://www.dropbox.com/s/pxwanb0rjsswsjk/Chef%20Sakai%20200824_011.MP3
821 Las Tunas Dr.
San Gabriel, CA 91776
#: (626) 282-3478