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Exploring, creating, & reflecting one day at a time

So in the past when I’ve gone on hiatus for over 3 months, this is the part where I usually start complaining about how much work I’ve been swamped with, how many assignments I have due, and how little time I have to do anything else.Now, I’m not going to say I don’t have any excuses for being so lax on posting, because I do, but now, at least, the excuses are much better, in my opinion.

The excuse this time, as you may have deducted from the title I gave this post, is not a lack of free time, but almost too much of it. How is this possible you may ask? I know, I was pretty confused at the concept of having any free time at all at first, much less TOO MUCH. Well, though I’m still 7 or 8 months from graduating, I sufficiently burdened myself last year with technical classes (12 total from June-May) such that I’m now only taking 2 engineering classes. My schedule has never been this light, EVER.

In addition to two senior lab courses, I’m taking Chinese for semi-beginners, yoga, a business class on personal finance, and I’m doing patent “research” (aka writing patents) with my professor from the mechatronics class I took last semester.

Anyway, it’s not like I have a shortage of classes or anything, it’s just that compared to last year, almost any course-load would feel like a breeze. I find myself now with a lot more time on my hands after class to do what I please, when I’m not working (tutoring). So then you may be wondering, why not spend more time posting?

A couple of reasons. For one, I don’t know how I feel about this whole pseudo-food blog thing anymore. Instagram has sufficiently taken away a big chunk of my interest in food photography and being pinned on Pinterest/tumbled on tumblr makes me feel weird since I don’t use these sites and don’t intend on doing so any time soon. Also, because I’ve had a lot more open afternoons/nights, I’ve been reliving what feels like my youth and attending a TON of concerts. There was a time in my life (I think it was called high school) when I would go to concerts almost once a month, my friends and I often making impromptu treks out to Hollywood and the likes to catch a glimpse of The Shins or Stars. Sadly, I had given all that up in the past couple of years to make room for the huge amount time my coursework took up.

This school year has been markedly different. I started out with Outside Lands back in August, followed by Hot Chip, Grizzly Bear, Amon Tobin, Teebs, Busdriver/Nocando, The xx and Flying Lotus in quick succession thereafter. This list doesn’t even include all the awesome SUPERB shows that have happened either (Father John Misty, JJAMZ, Murs?!). I feel young (sort of) again!

I don’t know how much longer I can keep doing this kind of thing, but I figure I better enjoy my last year of college and relatively low amount of responsibility before the real world gets real. That’s what I have to keep telling myself now that I have trips to Vegas, Seattle, and possibly a cruise to Mexico on the horizon.

I’ve actually been looking for jobs lately, since my schedule for next semester could potentially only be 6 hours for the whole week and I’d have Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays off. As of now, the search hasn’t gone too well, but there are a couple of shiny potential prospects floating around.

Anyway aside from updating whoever cares about my life, this post was intended to be educational. Today’s lesson: ramen.

No I’m not talking crappy ramen out of a plastic sleeve with MSG laden powder packets that you toss into a boiling pot of water (although I do have a fondness for these, despite how negatively I talk about them). I’m talking real, bona fide ramen. I was shocked when I came to Cal and realized that some people didn’t even know ramen was a real food (and not just a convenience thing) because I’ve been so spoiled growing up near Gardena and Torrance, probably two of the most Japanese-dense cities in the country. The shio broth flows abundantly and the noodles seem endless (ah, I wish). But really, there are a few places that do $1 or $1.50 noodle refills once you’ve slurped down your bowl of perfectly chewy goodness. One of those is Shinsengumi Hakata Ramen, which deserves its own post, and this place pictured above, Yamadaya.

Yamadaya is different from all the other ramen houses in the south bay (and I mean the south bay in southern california, not San Jose…) because they use a pork based broth. It makes the soup extra rich—almost decadently rich—and tasty. Alongside the typical options of shio (salt), shoyu (soy sauce), and miso based soups, I love that you can opt for a spicy broth because most places don’t have that. And all of them come with those great, tender, fatty slices of chashu (pork) and an almost unrealistically perfectly boiled egg, not too hard, not too soft.

When I went back home for a weekend to see The xx with Brett and Sam, we stopped to get lunch here. It’s inevitable that whenever I go home (which has been a lot this year), I have to get at least one or two Japanese meals in because the Japanese food in northern California is so horrendous. Mind you, I already admitted I’m spoiled when it comes to this stuff, but it’s not really arguable. Brett and I were so excited this time that we both ordered the lunch combo. Mine included karaage, or Japanese fried chicken, a mentaiko (cod roe) rice bowl, and a bowl of shoyu ramen, all for about $13. Had both of us not been so excited about eating Asian food for the first time in a while, I don’t think we would’ve been able to finish, but given the circumstances we both polished off all three of our dishes (Brett got curry instead of mentaiko).

Yamadaya’s richness is a double edged sword in that it’s amazingly tasty, but it leaves me feeling like I can’t come back for at least a couple of weeks. Some ramen places, like Shinsengumi, I could eat at every day….seriously. But, I won’t fault Yamadaya for being almost too awesome, and since I’m not home very often, the frequency of eating thing doesn’t really ever arise as an issue.

So, in conclusion, if you’re ever in the south bay (remember, I’m talking SOCAL), please feel free to gorge yourself on all the Japanese and Hawaiian-Japanese delights that are so abundant. Just beware that unless you’re planning a trip to Japan sometime soon, pretty much anywhere else you eat from that point on will disappoint you. It’s worth the risk.


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