Today, I am recapping my weekend getaway to Los Angeles, California and sharing a recipe for Yakisoba Pan. Chad recently spent a couple of weeks in Los Angeles for work. I had never been to California before and had the opportunity to visit him for a weekend. Evan and Claire stayed behind to have some fun with the grandparents. I was only there for 2 days, but had such a great time. We have a few friends in the area, including Lauren of Sew You Think You Can Cook and her family, and it was so wonderful to see them again and catch up.
Chad and I started Saturday with a trip to Röckenwagner Bakery Café in Culver City. I reviewed Hans Röckenwagner’s cookbook, Das Cookbook, last year and was excited to finally get the chance to check out his bakery. I had the Croissan’wich- a pretzel croissant with eggs, bacon, avocado, cheddar, tomato, basil, aioli and a side salad. Chad had the Breakfast Burrito with chorizo, black beans, eggs, potatoes, cheddar, salsa, and guacamole. It was definitely a great start to the day. We also grabbed a few pastries on the way out to take to Lauren- a pretzel, hazelnut croissant, and cinnamon roll.
We spent the rest of the day exploring Redondo Beach and Hermosa Beach with Lauren and her family.
Redondo Beach is located along the Pacific Ocean in Southern California 20 miles southwest of Los Angeles. I had previously only been to the beaches along the Gulf Coast, so it was interesting to see some variation. The water was quite a bit colder! Not nearly as many people in the water compared to Florida. It was definitely busy everywhere else though. I loved all the shops, restaurants, and other activities located right along the beach and easy pedestrian access.
We walked north a couple of miles to Hermosa Beach for lunch and found the Mediterraneo Kitchen & Bar. I have been to a tapas restaurant with Chad before, but it was great to go with another couple. This way we were able to have a larger assortment to sample- including the Apple Endive Salad, Lentil Hummus, Lamb Brochettes, Croquettes, Tortilla, Chorizo Bilbao, Pork Medallions, Gelato Sandwich, and Mocha Crème Brulee.
We walked back to Redondo Beach for dinner and found a small, authentic Mexican restaurant by the pier, El Baja Chef. It is right on the boardwalk and has beautiful views of the marina and ocean. Everything was delicious and definitely had spice. I have a recipe for Chilaquiles on the blog, but finally got to try it for the first time from a restaurant (top right in the photo below).
We started Sunday with a trip to the Hamada-Ya Bakery in the Mitsuwa Marketplace in Torrance, California. Mitsuwa Marketplace is a large shopping center with a grocery store, food court, bakery, and other small markets selling Japanese goods. Most of their locations are in Southern California, but they also have locations in Chicago and New Jersey. Their bakery had such a great assortment of sweet and savory pastries, everything from cream puffs filled with green tea custard to mango bread and curry doughnuts. I also found the inspiration for this post here, Yakisoba Pan.
After leaving the Hamada-Ya Bakery, we stopped by the Alpine Village in Torrance, California. The Alpine Village is a touristy market area specializing in German foods and merchandise with a restaurant, grocery store, and a variety of small shops. If you are in the area during the fall, they are also home to the oldest Oktoberfest celebration in Los Angeles.
I only had two days in Los Angeles, so we didn’t have a lot of time for sight-seeing. On Sunday afternoon, we visited the Griffith Observatory on the southern slope of Mount Hollywood in Griffith Park. It was very busy that day and took a while to drive to the observatory (we entered through N. Vermont Ave, but it can also be accessed via Fern Dell Dr.- but closes at sunset). They were also setting up for filming at the beginning of the park so a lot of the already limited parking and some of the roads were blocked off. Once we finally got to the top, the area (1,134 feet above sea level) offered some amazing views of the mountains, Los Angeles, and the Hollywood Sign. Inside the observatory, there were a few exhibits, telescopes, and the Samuel Oschin Planetarium. Parking, admission to the grounds, and the building are free. There are also plenty of trails for hikers.
After the observatory, we stopped by Hollywood Boulevard on the way back to the hotel. The star-studded Hollywood Walk of Fame was packed with tourists, street performers, and vendors. Here we found the TCL Chinese Theatres (Grauman’s Chinese Theatre) with a cement forecourt that has held the handprints and footprints of celebrities since 1927. Hollywood & Highland, a three story dining and shopping center with the Dolby Theatre, also offered views of the area and the Hollywood Sign.
After trying the Yakisoba Pan at the Hamada-Ya Bakery, I decided it at home. This carb-heavy, delicious snack is a great way to use up leftover Yakisoba and turn it into a portable meal. They are particularly popular during festivals and as on-the-go lunches. Yakisoba is a stir-fried noodle dish using Chūka soba/ramen as the base. The noodles are stir-fried with thinly sliced meat (usually pork) and vegetables, then coated in a thick salty sweet sauce.
I used fresh Chūka soba noodles. These noodles are actually not the same as the traditional buckwheat soba noodles. They are closer to the Chinese-style yellow egg noodles. If using dried, decrease the amount to about 12 ounces. Check the ingredient label when choosing the noodles. Many include artificial coloring and preservatives. I was able to find yakisoba noodles at my local Korean food market. They are available fresh in the refrigerated or frozen section of Asian food markets specializing in Japanese ingredients.
I topped the sandwiches with beni shōga (thinly sliced pickled ginger) and aonori (powdered seaweed). I was unable to find powdered seaweed in my local market, so I placed a sheet of nori in the spice grinder and pulsed the best I could. It wasn’t completely powdered, but worked well enough as a substitute. I found the pickled ginger in the refrigerated section of the Asian food market. If you are looking one without artificial coloring, it will probably be a more tan color. You can also top the sandwiches with katsuobushi (bonito flakes) and mayonnaise.
I used the more popular pork belly in the stir-fry. It is available in the meat section of most Asian food markets. If you can’t find it, you can also use pork shoulder.
You can find yakisoba sauce in the Asian food market, but it is easy to make a quick version at home. I whisked together worcestershire sauce, oyster sauce, ketchup, soy sauce, and sugar, then added it to the pork and vegetables and let it boil briefly to thicken before adding the noodles to coat.
Oyster sauce is a dark brown sauce created by cooking oyster extract with salt and sugar. It is common in Southeast Asian cuisines. Check the labels before buying. Lower quality sauces include caramel coloring or other additives. It can be found in Asian food markets or some larger grocery stores.
Look for hot dog buns that are sliced down from the top instead of the side. It will hold the noodles better.
Yakisoba and sauce adapted from Just One Cookbook
4 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 heaping tablespoon oyster sauce
1 heaping tablespoon ketchup
2 teaspoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons caster sugar
1 pound fresh yakisoba noodles or 12 ounces dried
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
8 ounces thinly sliced pork belly
2 carrots, peeled and cut into matchsticks
1 onion, thinly sliced
1/4 napa cabbage, thinly sliced
8 hot dog buns, split on the top
Aonori- powdered seaweed for garnish
Beni shōga- pickled ginger for garnish
In a small bowl, whisk together the worcestershire sauce, oyster sauce, ketchup, soy sauce, and caster sugar. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the yakisoba noodles and cook until just tender- about 2-3 minutes for fresh or closer to 5-7 minutes for dried. Drain and lightly shake to remove any excess moisture.
In a large wok or pan, drizzle oil over medium high heat. Add the pork slices and cook, stirring occasionally, until browned. Mix in the carrots and onion. Continue to cook, stirring, until beginning to soften. Stir in the cabbage, then add the prepared sauce.
Once the sauce has come to a boil, toss in the noodles. Continue to toss until well coated. Remove from heat.
Fill each hot dog bun with the prepared yakisoba. Top with powdered seaweed and pickled ginger. Serve immediately.