Thanks E_Eto for the original heads up
The Mitsuwa San Jose Hokkaido Fair is seemingly much smaller than the ones at Costa Mesa and Torrance. San Jose only has one ramen offering by Santoka.
Santoka Ramen temporarily takes up shop in Mitsuwa's Daikichi Sushi booth (that has a full blown kitchen in the back), where they sell sushi and bento boxes to go, adjacent to Miyabe Tei. For $7.99 + tax (cash only), you get a ticket to redeem one bowl of freshly piping hot ramen. You may want to get there early or after lunch/dinner rush hours as seating will likely fill up quickly.
Brief ramen review: SANTOKA RAMEN (Kanji is Fire Head Mountain, like a volcano)
Noodles - good yellow and not too thin slightly curly al dente slurpy noodles that were a bit on the hard side. Net reports say the noodles are imported from Japan.
- one thin but large piece of cha shu, followed by two small blocks. Tender and moist, with a nice layer of light tasting almost guilt free fat.
- Not sure why they put the fishcake in there, but it was not needed.
- Several long slices of menma (bamboo shoot) that was decent but I've had better.
- Several strips of nicely cooked kikurage (woodear funghi or mushroom)
- freshly cut up negi (scallions) that elevated the experience
- the grape sized looking chesnut was UMEBOSHI! WOOOOOOOOOOOF it kicked my butt. Tasty but interesting addition to the ramen.
Broth - oily/fatty but flavorful, thick, and well textured. Definitely a highlight.
Easily better than a majority of ramen noodle shops in SF Bay Area (maybe except for the top 3 to 4 depending on your preference and perspective).
My biggest gripe? They used disposeable bowls. Creeps me out that the uber hot broth and ramen contents will cause chemical reactions to break down the material of the bowl. It is like drinking hot coffee from a styrofoam vs ceramic cup. C'mon Santoka, please use CERAMIC bowls and REAL wooden spoons otherwise it's high end food court ramen.
When inquired with the cashier, she was unable to tell me whether Santoka plans to open in the SF Bay Area, but they have a location in Chicago, and New Jersey as well as Southern Cal. Either way, if you are sick of the SF Bay Area ramen scene, head to Mitsuwa SJ this weekend to see why Southern Cal has it good.
Other than that, there was a Hokkaido Seafood booth that sold mini bento boxes of crab meat, crab legs, ikura, and uni over sushi rice.
Kanikosen Bento (crab and ikura) - $15.90 + tax
King crab gokai bento box (leg meat and ikura) - $19.90 + tax
Sanshoku Bento box (all three minus crab leg) - $17.90
Skip the uni, it tasted meaty and dry. Uni is supposed to be smooth and silky. Although there were chefs trying to what looked like defrost the seafood..... However the Hokkaido ikura was insanely good, where you can taste the natural flavor. Not sure what they used to lightly season, but couldn't taste much salt or soy sauce. If you love pristine salmon eggs, you must try this. (Recommended for Sushi Monster, head down here and get you and SM x the king crab leg and ikura bento.)
Next to the seafood bento booth were two booths of deep fried stuff (croquettes).
In the back of the right corner of the supermarket is the rest of the fair, ranging from fresh seafood/whole fish from Hokkaido, refrigerated desserts/cream puffs/caramel candy from the city of Otaru, a booth that sells assorted snackeries from shiokara to marinated fish. The only fresh dessert snack made on the premise is Ishikari Ohaga, a ball of flavored rice (could be sticky rice, but uber small grains), wrapped with dark delicious looking red bean paste all over (hence the shape of a stone, or ishi).
Big whole piece of kinmedai (alfosino)
Marinated seafood booth:
Ika Jyan Kara
Miso Ika Shiokara
Hokkai Tako Wasabi
($13.99 to $49.99 /lb)
Yubari Melon Jelly - $7.99
Hokkaido Eco friendly red beans
Hidaka Seaweed (Konbu) - $10.99
Hokkaido Vinegar (3 kinds)
Seafood bento booth:
Ika Meshi Bento Box - $5.90 (two pieces of grilled squid over rice)
Get there now, it ends Sunday.
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