Monday, February 27, 2006

Garbage Pail Food #1: Yokohama Ramen, Los Angeles

It seems like there are accolades for virtually everything. In high school, it was the “Best ________” awards. In college, students with 6.0 GPA’s were recognized and hooked up with some scholarship money to continue proper schooling. In the workplace, ass-kissing employees will get some kind of “Team Leader/Brown-noser” award. There are even awards for porn stars. How proud must the parents of those ‘actors’ and ‘actresses’ be? So the same goes with the food blogosphere. There’s the recently completed, 2005 Food Blog and Urb Awards in which some of my friends over at the site were nominated. Well, I’ve decided to create my own category. Not really an award, but more of an ongoing category commemorating some of the worst piece of shit places I’ve eaten at. Introducing…

The Garbage Pail Food Accolade

This highly coveted award is derived from those notoriously gross and humorous trading cards that were banned from schools – Garbage Pail Kids. For those that may disagree with my selections, this is all in fun and probably a huge financial loss for the unlucky eateries. But who am i anyway? It's just one person's opinion.

The first recipient of the GPF award goes to Yokohama Ramen in West Los Angeles. On Saturday, before driving off to Hollywood Hills for a catering event, I wanted to get a bowl of ramen. I drove down Sawtelle Blvd. for my usual Kinchan’s ramen. On this day, it happened to be way crowded. I didn’t have time to scour for parking, so I just took off. My friend had told me about another ramen shop over on Barrington/Gateway called Yokohama. I drove down Barrington, excited that I’d be eating at a ramen place besides the Sawtelle Trio – Asahi, Kinchan’s and Ramenya (Olympic Blvd.)

Yokohama sits at the end of an old strip mall. Looks really depressing. It’s very easy to drive by this because Gateway isn’t really that busy of an intersection. I walked in and saw about 6 out of the 12 tables occupied. Ok, not bad. Should be good. The waitress handed me an sticky and oily laminated menu – a common sign of restaurants that prefer to focus on the food rather than a clean eating environment. Wow. I perused the menu to find 21 types of ramen! Nice.

Yokohama Ramen
Kyushu Ramen
Tokyo Nori Ramen
Shio Ramen
Shoyu Ramen
Shio Ramen
Spicy Miso Ramen
Chashu Ramen…

And the prices were reasonable - $5.50 to 7 for a big bowl of noodles. So I ordered the Shoyu ramen. The waitress tried to convince me to try the #1 Yokohama special, which was ramen topped with seafood, pork and veggies. Naw. Anytime I go into a ramen shop, I wanna try the popular stuff – either shoyu or miso. You don’t go to a Vietnamese Pho restaurant and order a Banh Mi sandwich – you gotta try the pho. I also ordered some gyoza. Also on the menu, was Korean and Chinese food. Odd. Could this be one of those fake Japanese restaurants – like Kabuki, which is Korean-owned? I like Kabuki though.

10 minutes later, my food arrived. I happily rubbed my hands together and attempted to split the wooden chopsticks perfectly. Never happens. So with my retarded chopsticks and spoon, I dove into the bowl and fished out the broth. Uh oh. This wasn’t good at all. It really tasted like they added soy sauce to hot water. Did they even make their own pork stock? I then tried the noodles, which were soggy and similar in taste to Nissin packaged noodles. I then tried the cuts of spinach – they had been precooked and maybe even frozen. I could still taste old water in it. The bamboo shoots looked tasty, but had this weird smell – like it had been kept in a metal container for a long time. And finally, with one last attempt at redeeming itself as a decent bowl of ramen, I grabbed the Chashu pork slices. Ok it was tender, but there was this weird liver-like smell to the meat. Could it be somewhat rotten? I didn’t even finish this bowl of noodles. I pushed it aside and waited for my gyoza.

Before I even reached for the gyoza, I could tell they were frozen just by looking at the soggy skin. They looked like they had been sitting out under a heat lamp for a good hour before they were microwaved and dished out to the Chinese guy who just ate some really bad Shoyu ramen. Even Todai’s dumplings looked better than this. That should tell you a lot since Todai is the Asian cousin of Hometown Buffet.

There you have it. The first recipient of the GPF award. For anyone else that’s been there, I’d really like to know what you thought of their food. Again, this is all IMO.

Thanks for reading.


BoLA said...

Damn! I'm sick again...serves me right for having a good time up in Mammoth. Oh well. Anyway, great post! Love the Garbage Pail theme! Shweet! ;) Will make sure I never go to this stinky ramen-ya. haha...Oh, by the way...Happy Early Birthday! =)

MEalCentric said...

Garbage pail kids...OLD SCHOOL! I love it. Man, that took me back. That ramen sounded DISGUSTING. Frozen spinach and canned bamboo shoots. Seems like ghetto fab home cooking but in a restaurant. BTW...I got "Most Likely to Make a Teacher Retire" in my yearbook.

Kirk said...

Ick! Sounds horrible. Don't they even know they can get ride of the "skunk" smell from takenoko by quickly pouring hot water over the bamboo shoots? Sounds like they don't give a crap about the food they serve.

eatdrinknbmerry said...

Kristy, i'm feeling kind of sick too. the sudden change in weather got to me. well i hope you can come out on Saturday night. yeah MS told me you were making snowmen up in mammoth.

Meal, i remember it would take the life out of my parents to let us buy these. i got these taken away by so many teachers haha.

Kirk, this place DOES NOT give a sh*t about their food. They serve status quo food. They even had POKE there... not sure if i would even try that.

Yuzu said...

Neat idea for the GPF Awards, Dylan. Luckily, I've never eaten at Yokohama. The sticky laminated menu says it all - ugh. I had no idea Kabuki is Korean-owned. I like their half-price sushi. :) This post was an entertaining read, as usual. Eat on, fellow foodie!

rick james said...

thanks for the warning, that place sounds nasty... yuk

should be illegal to serve any premade food in restaurants...

last time i had premade food was....... IKEA, but at least they have an excuse, they specialize in freakin' particle board furniture

eatdrinknbmerry said...

hi yuzu, kabuki isn't bad at all. have you been to the one at the howard hughes center? me, nik, todd and michi used to go there to eat back at C/D. lookout for GPF recipient #2.

DCCF, i drove by that place again and yelled "Garbage Pail Fooooooood" out the window. No one heard me though b/c of the pouring rain. Ikea's food might be made out of particle board as well.

elmomonster said...

A heartfelt "Yuck" on the food you had and a enthusiastic "Yay" on the GBF idea! Can't wait to hear more!

Sometimes it's actually a lot more fun to hear about bad food than good.

BTW, I still wished I had my collection of GBK...those were so fun!

anni said...

This place has been around for over 17 years! Living in West LA at the time, My Loving Hubby and I would frequent this "hot spot" for ramen at least once a week, during its heyday. On our last trip to LA we made a trek to the old neighborhood and stopped in for sentimental reasons.
UGH! What a mistake that was. The menu didn't change much, but place has lost its old charm. The atmosphere was no longer there. My "inspector" instinct was to turn around and bail. But the "foodie" in me was willing. I ordered the cold noodles, Jaijamen (Sp?), in hopes to get that old feeling again. Nah. No such luck. Oh well, Hubby suggested we get our LA fix over at Tito's Tacos. Despite the long line at Tito's, we got what we were looking for.
We'll try the other ramen houses you mentioned on our next visit.
Gyoza, we make our own. So no need to find it elsewhere.
Happy Birthday! (Whenever it is. Celebrate!)

Jonah said...

I have driven past this place for years and wondered if it is worth stopping in. Apparently not. Good to know!

charles said...

lol, thanks for the laugh. print out the certificate and give it to the waitress next time.

Passionate Eater said...

I don't think anyone can split the chopsticks perfectly. Well... Except for those anal-retentive Martha Stewart-wannabes who make origami tents out of the paper chopstick wrapper.

Also, Todai is the better-looking, and better-kept cousin of Hometown Buffet. At Hometown, it's all-you-can spaghetti and mashed potatoes.

Yuzu said...

Yeah, I used to go to the Kabuki at HHC. Haven't been in years, though.

Looking forward to GPF recipient #2. Or am I? It's not going to gross me out, is it? =P

eatdrinknbmerry said...

Elmo, that's exactly what i was thinking. Almost everyone will have good stuff to say about a place - not me! Did you find your GBK on that link?

Hi Anni, thanks for ringing the doorbell. I'm sure the ramen shop was good 17 years ago, but chefs/owners will come and go. Definitely give the Sawtelle Trio a try - I would suggest Asahi or Ramenya first, although Ramenya can be salty sometimes. Several times, i've asked for a small bowl of broth to dilute my Shoyu ramen. In return, i get a nasty look from the waitress. Hey, i'll take a healthy kidney over her sentiments. Oh god, the gyoza - horrific.

Jonah, again this is only my opinion. Maybe i ordered the blacksheep of ramen. I liked Chabuya, but the other 20 people didn't right? haha. I would just try it on your own.

Charles, i can already see it. Next thing I know, i'm on my face OUTSIDE of the restaurant. They deserve a GPF award on a PLAQUE.

PE, hi buddy. i have never seen anyone split the chopsticks directly in half - just flip them around anyway. Yuck, Todai, Hometown, Sizzler, Olive Garden.

Yuzu, GPF #2 will be a well deserved one. I'm trying to get myself to spend my hard-earned money on Hometown Buffet just so I can write about it - but i can't.

Daily Gluttony said...

crap, i could have sworn i left a comment on this post. now i don't remember what i said.

anyways, bad ramen=trouble. thanks fot the warning. and love the GPK reference! LOL!

passionate T-bagger said...

I'll know to avoid that joint. You dont have to leave home to microwave some gyoza and boil some instant ramen.

I saw from your prior post "Passionate Drinker"... tee hee hee, now thats a understatement...

Happy Bday mang.

Foodie Universe said...

I'm always baffled by restaurants like this. Why own or work at a restaurant if you hate food as much as these people clearly do?

eatdrinknbmerry said...

Pam, there are HANDFULS of places like this that claim to be authentic.

MS, thanks again for coming out to Terried Sake House... always a good time w/ sake, beer and grilled chicken guts.

Amy, i know what you mean. i think we are a different breed of people - we actually care we eat. i know a lot of people that don't give a damn about what they eat b/c to them it's just sustenance.

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