So this weekend was the Japanese Food Festival in Costa Mesa, CA. The event was sponsored by Bridge USA. The event was $10 at the door but if you reserved your ticket ahead of time, it was $7. They also had a Sake battle where 50 different types of sake were there for you to sample and later for you to grade and choose a winner. They also had a food competition where restaurants presented a dish or three and you picked which dish was the best. I went on this adventure with Kchan, Kyosuke and J. Kchan's favorite restaurants there and she was excited.
Served Tonkotsu Ramen and Inari Sushi
Shin Sen Gumi
Shin Sen Gumi had Yakitori with Yakitori Sauce
Ota no Takoyaki
Catering Service for Takoyaki
Onto the food reviews!
Judgment: The battered mixture is freshly prepared and the cooks had pretty strict standards when they served it on site. I watched them flip and maybe throw away at least a dozen from a batch. The attention to quality control paid off and they were good. 8 / 10
Creme Brulee 2 Ways
Judgment: The brulees were very mild and sweet tasting. The top one was your typical Vanilla Creme Brulee. The bottom one was Green Tea Creme Brulee. Both of them had the actual consistency that resembled pudding rather than flan-like. It was quite delicious despite the gooey texture. 8 / 10
Cucumber Wrapped Soft Crab Cake
Judgment: The cake was prepared warm and covered with Teriyaki and Sriracha Sauces. The Crab to rice ratio was amazingly biased towards the crab and the dish came together nicely. 9 / 10
Stewed Beef Curry
Beef Curry over Rice
Judgment: The curry was served warm rather than piping hot, but that might have been due to me taking a food break and drinking 6 rounds of sake for taste testing. All in all I wished the sauce was spicier but for the average eater, I think it was well prepared. It reminded me of that instant curry in a can that I discovered the other month at a different Japanese food festival. The bowl was okay, and it was definitely filling because it was mostly rice. 6 / 10
The fine folks handing out Kirin Beer for the people that participated in the Sake Battle.
Judgment: if you remember a couple posts ago I posted up about Okonomiyaki. The same restaurant that I went to eat it at was selling them on site at the fair. Prepared by their professional cooks, they definitely came out nicer than the ones we tried to cook ourselves. The Okonomiyaki was cooked piping hot and they put on a light coat of the Okonomi sauce with a generous helping of the dried fish flakes. I asked them not to put them on mine because I actually like it better without it. Along side, they offer a packet of mayonnaise to go with it. 8 / 10
Cajun Seared Tuna Roll
Tekka Maki Wrapped with a slice of seared tuna
Judgment: This sushi was not that enjoyable and I wish I did not order it. The seared tuna tasted gritty and the texture just seemed a bit off. All in all the flavor was not working too well. I didn't understand what made it Cajun because there isn't any New Orleans style seasonings or anything but that's just what they decided to call it 4 / 10.
Conclusion: All in all, it was a good experience. For anyone who wanted to get a sampling of japanese cuisine that expanded past raw fish and teriyaki chicken, this is definitely worthwhile for you. A lot of the restaurants that represented there were fairly local. You won't have to drive too far to get the real deal at their home bases.
The food gets a B.