Santa Anita Park 285 W Huntington Dr., Arcadia, 91007 Neighborhood: Arcadia
RAMEN FEST! or Let’s do this! I’m not talking about that 30 cent packaged noodle that you used to stuff your face with back in college at 3 am in a drunken stupor. I’m talking about delicious, fresh bowls of 14 different types of ramen noodles straight from Japan, Vegas, San Diego, San Jose and yes, Los Angeles. I’m talking about the 2nd annual Ramen Yokocho Festival, a 2-day ramen lover’s dream come true. If you love ramen, I mean LOVE ramen, then this is the event for you.
I thought about breaking format and making the title of this post, “How to turn into a ramen noodle” but I decided against it. I thought that might lead you to think I didn’t enjoy my 4 hours in the 85 degree hot sun, sampling 8 full-sized bowls of hot ramen soup while walking around the Santa Anita Park race track. However, my belly was full of so much liquid salt and noodles, that by the end of it, I felt as if I had turned into a soggy noodle myself.
On Saturday at 10:30 am, 30-minutes before the festival officially opened, there was already a line forming outside the entry gates at the trace track. It wasn’t long before the eager ramen fans stormed the stadium like a horse out of the track. Okay, maybe it wasn’t that intense, but by the time the gates opened, the place was PACKED. Families, foodies, ramen aficionados and all around food lovers. To see what you missed, or if you plan on going next year, take a look at my recap and read these Do and Don’ts to keep in mind when you go.
Ramen Fest Do’s and Don’ts:
Do: Get there early and purchase however many tickets ($8 cash per bowl) you think you will want to eat. That goes for water tickets ($2) – which they were sold out of completely by 3 pm. They did have plenty of beer and cold barley tea throughout the day. Just don’t over purchase as there are no refunds!
Don’t: Get there late. They sold out really early last year, so don’t be arriving 2 hours before closing. That does no one any good.
Do: Come with friends. There is no way you will get to try everything if you come by yourself, plus that’s no fun. Bring a group of friends (preferably the kind sans cooties) so you can share bowls and try as much as you can. There were four people in our group and we each got 2 bowls and shared amongst each other.
Don’t: Bring uncomfortable shoes. I was told last year’s fest was held in a much smaller parking lot type location. This year it was held at Santa Anita Race Park (same place as the 626 Night Market) so there a is a bit of walking – from the parking lot to the tents and back again, etc. It’s nothing as crazy as walking around Coachella or anything, but if you plan on hanging around for a few hours, bring your most comfortable kicks and dress comfortably.
Do: Bring sunscreen. Like any outdoor festival you are at the mercy of mother nature. This past weekend was HOT. I arrived in a long sleeved sweater and (thankfully!) I was able to change into a t-shirt that I had instinctively brought in my bag. It was warm out and eating hot, steamy bowls of soup will cook you inside and out! Those who came in shorts, flip flops, hats and had brought sunscreen seemed to fair better in the sun.
Don’t: Wait in the same line with all your friends visiting one booth at a time. This will take you forever to get through everything. Instead, split up, get in a line and rendezvous again at a meeting point. Lines were LONG so you really want to strategize.
Do: Bring the kids! This year’s fest had various Japanese cultural presentations like traditional tea ceremony, dancing, drums and sumo. There were also activities to partake in. Plus, kids under the age of 17 were admitted free.
Do: Enjoy yourself! Where else can you try 14 different types of ramen from all about the world, enjoy the beautiful California weather with family and friends and check out some horse races. Come with an open mind and empty belly and you will have a good time!
See you next year!
Read more from my blogger pals on their experiences at the fest…
Watch my Tastemade video recap or scroll through the gallery to see which were my favorite ramen!