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Photos: Ramen Fest Delights Foodies With Ramen Burgers And Noodles Straight From Japan

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Ramen lovers waited patiently in long lines under the beating sun to get their slurp on at the Ramen Yokocho Festival out at Santa Anita Park over the weekend. It's an act of love for the noodle, really.

The two-day ultimate ramen-thon on March 29 and March 30 was definitely a step up from the small digs in Torrance where the Ramen Yokocho Festival was first held last September (and faced some rather negative reviews for having a shortage of ramen then). This time, with 14 vendors all the way from Japan, San Diego, Vegas, San Jose and from our own city of angels, bowls of ramen seemed bountiful for the hungry patrons. And if folks wanted some variety, there were Japanese-style hot dogs (courtesy of the Tokyo Doggie Style truck), a ramen taco, gyoza, okonomiyaki, takoyaki, and curry in the mix. And a Kirin beer garden. (Chug, chug.)

However, the longest lines (which could go up to an hour or more) were of course for the ramen burger and vendors straight from Japan. The special tonkotsu spicy miso ramen burger was created by Fujin from L.A., but despite the long lines, they kept the pace going by flipping those burgers quickly. While most ramen shops were selling varieties of creamy tonkotsu, shoyu, and miso broths coupled with marinated, succulent pork, green onions and hard-boiled eggs, there were a few that stood out. Especially, Mattou Seimen from Japan that had a special Szechuan-style Black Mapo Ramen helmed by Iron Chef Kenichi Cheng and Kiyoshi Kurihara. San Diego's Tajima whipped up a Tonkotsu Miso Ramen blended with red miso with the strong, savory flavor of bonito.

And as we would have guessed, L.A. favorites like Daikokuya had one of the shortest lines just because well, folks could try them in Little Tokyo whenever they damn well pleased. However, it was actually faster to get a bowl of their creamy tonkotsu ramen at the festival than waiting in line for a table on a normal day at the restaurant. And we have to admit, their ramen was still reigning on top of some of the other contenders featured that day.

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Some might ask why people were willing to wait in such long lines to pay $8 per bowl of ramen, especially when L.A. has some choice ramen shops. It might have been the excitement of the concurrent horse races going on at the park or the girls who were dressed in kimonos walking around. But really, it was the chance to sample some new flavors without even having to leave your own city. We can't wait for the next one.

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