Saturday, August 13, 2011

Mitsuwa Marketplace Natsumatsuri: Japanese Summer Festival

For years, one of the highlights of my summer has been Mitsuwa Marketplace's summer festival in Torrance. I happily subject myself to the extreme heat and hectic crowds just to get my hands on some of the best food I'll eat all year. 

Festival staples: Yakisoba and Okonomiyaki. Unfortunately, I was unable to get any takoyaki, or "octopus balls", due to problems with the stall. But for any who don't know, they are delicious balls of pancake-like batter filled with chopped up octopus, that always make an appearance at Japanese festivals.

Yakisoba: grilled noodles with pork and sausage.

Okonomiyaki : Savory Japanese pancakes consisting of mostly cabbage, filled with different types of seafood or meats. Topped with bulldog sauce (thick, japanese style worcestershire based sauce), mayo, bonito flake, and flecks of seaweed. 

While it is not a traditional Japanese food, spam musubi have long been a very popular staple in the Japanese-American community. Salty spam and rice wrapped up in a sheet of dried seaweed. Personally, I've never been much of a spam fan, even in my meat-eating years, but I've met plenty of people who love it, especially these two happy festival goers.

Ramune, a very popular Japanese soda drink.

My favorite festival food, Taiyaki. Sweetened red bean filled fish-shaped pancakes.

Taiyaki in the making.


A very sweet, refreshing treat for a hot summer day, kakigori, or shave ice, in a variety of tasty flavors.

Half strawberry, half green tea, topped with condensed milk. 

Lemon and strawberry with condensed milk

Green tea, red bean, and condensed milk. Green tea is my go-to shave ice syrup flavor, but it varies from place to place. I tend to prefer the strong, bitter of true green tea flavor, but this one was sweet and subtle.

Festive and adorable traditional Japanese yukata, worn by many at summer events.  

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