Ok. So. Truthfully, I never meant to seek out the ramen burger. I’m not huge into food trends or fads (despite the fact that I wrote, not one, but TWO articles on the cronut this past summer). I heard a story of a woman who drove over an hour from Seal Beach to Pasadena the first time the ramen burger came to California, only to find out they had completely run out just moments before she got there. [click here to read about the newly opened Los Angeles Ramen Burger location!]
Why would anybody go through all the trouble? This type of foodie obsession seems so strange to me, and I was not really interested in taking part of the madness.
Cut to: months later at the Japan America Kite Festival which went down last weekend.
I had an opportunity to attend this East meets West beachy celebration, and while I was there, I tried the wacky burger-noodle mash up that is sweeping the globe. I’ll tell you what I thought about it…
But first… more kites…
And… what did I think?
IT’S FREAKING FANTASTIC!!
I now understand why people drive hours to wait in line for hours to try it. During the festival, the humble creator of the burger, Keizo Shimamoto and his team made 500 burgers for hungry guests. People purchased the burger, got a wristband and returned at a designated time. Very organized operation!
I talked to a few people there who got in line at 11:00 am, ate the burger, and then came back to purchase another and wait in line for a second one. They loved it THAT much.
So, what’s the big deal? It’s just a burger with a noodle bun, right? Not exactly. It’s not just about the fried ramen bun — there’s something about the marriage of all the flavors combined; the spiced arugula, the scalions, the “secret” shoyu sauce, the juicy beef patty, they all make the burger sing.
Truth be told, I didn’t think I’d like it as much as I did – But I gotta say, I’m officially a ramen burger convert, and I’m shouting it from the rooftops… Dudes, it’s GOOOOOOD!! And for only $8 bucks at the festival, it was a steal too. In three hours, they were sold out.
A true ramen aficionado, Shimamoto, OC native and second generation Japanese-American, went to Japan for a few years to study all things ramen. He worked in restaurants and ate a LOT of ramen while he was there. His “ramen education” is all well documented on his blog, Go Ramen.
If you happen to live near Brooklyn, Keizo serves up the burger Saturdays at Smorgasburg in Williamsburg. Everywhere else, the burger is a pop-up so if you hear of him visiting your city, make sure you get in line and try the real thing the way it was meant to be. If you do, let me know what you think!
So, when can Californians expect a full blown brick and mortar? Hopefully, one day soon…
Until that day… I will be eating them in my ramen dreams.