December 18, 2017

How was Ramen fest? Lame.

Ok folks, I really wanted to love this event. Probably my own fault.  I didn’t realize the Japan block party / Ramen fest was only a sub event of a six block long standard street fair. The Ramen booths looked great BUT, you had to buy a ticket then get on a line from hell for each booth, EACH BOOTH! There were  few other booths selling Japanese food but we were there for killer Ramen.

Instead we sampled the Takoyaki booth, little fried batter balls with octopus inside, which was just ok.  They were served premade, 10-15 minutes old, and sitting in plastic containers.  Next we tried to score some Okomomiaki from a food truck but the line was long and slow.  People standing around said they were just eh.  Saw some pan fried noodle dishes but at this point we just kept strolling.  I’m not saying the participants are to blame.  The event organizers were woefully inadequate in their task.  Maybe too many people showed up?  Who knows.  Perhaps next year will be a success.  It comes down to this.  If you want to go eat great ramen in Astoria, go directly to Hino Maru.  The place rocks.  The decor is pretty darn cool, the service is smart and friendly PLUS THE FOOD KICKS ASS!  

I suggest the following for newbies at Hino Maru:

  • Tonkotsu Shoyu (Kagoshima Style).  Creamy pork broth w/chashu, kikurage, scallion, menma, nori, naruto.  Wow.  Just plain wow.  Not too salty, lots of rich flavors, great broth.  Good noodles.

Share these two apps with the rest of your table:

  • Takoyaki.  Those tasty fried battered balls with octopus.
  • Eggplant with sweet miso.  Perhaps the best version i’ve had anywhere.  They are deep fried chunks of plain Japanese eggplant served in a bowl then drizzled with a sweet miso sauce.  Perfectly fried by the way.  Not a speck of greasiness in the whole dish.  Absoluetely fantastic stuff.

I could wrap up this blog slam by commenting on the Latin food booth with the crazy priced pork and tostones ($18! Holy crap!).  We walked away from that place quick.  Or perhaps the Kofta booth which was served their room temp Kofta charred on the outside and cold raw on the inside.  Yeah, that was a treat.  Our two favorite stops on this tour were the tee shirt booth with lots of great Astoria logos from Ink stain Inc of Fresh Meadows and the bouncy castle.  Our son loved it.

All in all the food aspect was a waste.  On the other hand, it is always nice to stroll the neighborhood with some family and good friends.  That part was good and didn’t cost a thing.