Saturday morning, ramen lovers and food enthusiasts lined up as early as 6:20 a.m. at Torrance's Mitsuwa Marketplace to be one of the first to try the newest oddball culinary mashup: the Ramen Burger™. Invented by Keizo Shimamoto and popularized for the last five weeks at Brooklyn's Smorgasbord weekend food flea market, a mere 500 of the novelty burgers were supposed to be served starting at 11 a.m. Instead, an anxious line of over 800 people encircled the entire building, many for over four hours before getting a chance to grab the neatly wrapped burger.
Inside, just before the line was allowed to descend upon the food stall taken over by Shimamoto's team, a mass of media rushed to capture the scene and interview staffers on the back story. Jeffrey Shimamoto, Keizo's brother, seemed to be behind the operation's business end, with a hint that a longer term presence in L.A. was in the store for the future. There was also a heartfelt moment when Keizo Shimamoto served his mother, who lives in Southern California, a ramen burger for the first time.
Outside, quick interviews with excited foodies lined up for the burger produced varied explanations. Most were there out of pure curiosity, hearing about the chance to try "the next cronut." Asking many of the lucky few that were able to try the ramen burger, most were pretty satisfied with the taste, which featured a unique "demi-glace" sauce that laced the patty. A little difficult to eat because of the way the noodle "bun" fell apart after a few bites, the outcome was a satisfying snack worth the wait for some, but not for others.
The ramen burger team had been up since 2 a.m. the evening prior assembling the special "buns" of noodles and was preparing for another 200-plus pop-up at Pasadena's Osawa on Sunday, which also resulted in an hours-long line. At the moment, there's no specific plans to bring the Ramen Burger™ back to L.A., but venues like Mitsuwa (that can handle the lines and volume) would be considered.
·All Ramen Burger Coverage [~ELA~]