Thursday, June 10, 2010

Mitsuwa New Jersey

Almond Croissant - Japanese Style.

One of the problems of living in Baltimore is the lack of Japanese markets and every time I drive to New York I always want to hit Mitsuwa Marketplace to stock up on items. And every time we've gone, I've always gotten sidetracked. The last time we made a serious attempt to visit, we arrived just after they had closed at 9pm last September. Heartbreaking.

Lindsay and I finally made it to Mitsuwa before heading south where I found a wondrous bounty of all things Japanese. A chopstick rest here, a charcoal clay grill there, some Kirin cold tea, beautiful nori, furikake, nori-wrapped arare and, my favorite: the Japanese bakery.

There's something beautifully luscious about the Japanese version of white bread. It's fluffy and delicate while being just dense enough to offer just the right bounce on the bite. Give it a nice brown toast and it's incredible. Perfect for butter while still remaining fluffy on the inside.

I first discovered this wondrous bread at the St. Germaine Bakery in Honolulu and I've sought it out wherever I've lived and traveled. Sadly, I haven't lived near a Japanese bakery in years and I've missed it dearly. How I wish that someone would teach me their Nihon-jin secret.

The "B" Shoyu Ramen Combination at Santoka.

Inside Mitsuwa is a food court with a very familiar-looking ramen joint called Santoka. A quick call to Al in Southern California reveals that the ramen place in the Hawthorne Mitsuwa is called Santouka - coincidence or chain? I'm not quite sure.

The ramen tastes similar and I order the "B" combination of shoyu ramen with char siu, a side of hard boiled egg and ikuradon, a bowl of rice topped with salmon roe. It's a solid lunch for the road and quite delicious. After some good food and discussion we're back on the road heading for home.

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