Tomato in ramen? If weird ramen speaks to you and you haven't yet tried tontoma ramen, this weekend's Japanese Gourmet Festival might be a rare opportunity. It takes place on Saturday and Sunday at the Torrance Cultural Arts Center.
The theme is gotochi (local) foods from specific Japanese regions, as well as Los Angeles. The tontoma ramen is meant to be representative of L.A. Listeners to Japanese radio station TJS Radio earlier this year suggested and voted on ideas for an L.A. ramen, and came up with tontoma.
It's so named because it combines tonkotsu pork broth with ramen-meets-taco toppings that include tomato, spicy ground pork, avocado and a tortilla chip. It's not unheard of: Gardena ramen house Jidaiya introduced tontoma ramen at the Ramen Yokocho Fest in March. (The lines were short, but maybe it'll catch on.)
The ramen recipe for what will be served at the Japanese Gourmet Festival was developed with Sun Noodle Co. and its research chef Shigetomi Nakamura, with roasted tomatoes in the broth and thick, wavy noodles.
But wait, there's more. Regional Japanese ramen also will be available: Sapporo miso ramen, ramen from Kagoshima and Hiroshima fukuyama ramen. Also: Osaka-style kushiage (fried skewers), steak from Iwate's Japanese shorthorn cattle (limit 200 servings per day), Sendai gyutang don (beef tongue rice bowl), Raijindo teyaki senbei (hand-grilled rice crackers), akashiyaki (octopus dumplings) of Hyogo, Shizuoka sesame chicken, Aizu curry yakisoba and okomon (a cross between two styles of seafood pancakes, okonomiyaki and monjayaki).
Sweets include sakamanju of Chiba (a confection made with sake lees left over from sake production), Uji matcha (green tea powder) shave ice and Okinawan brown sugar manju (a confection made from rice flour).
Saturday 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Sunday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Admission is $5, and advance tickets are available online.