While walking through the Torrance Cultural Arts Center parking lot, we noticed a red van with the words "Shin Sen Gumi" written on it. "NO WAY, the Shin Sen Gumi guys are not only here, but they travel and fight crime A-Team style. That's so bada$$!"
After paying $6 each for admission, D and I pushed and shoved our way through the kiddy game section sniffing our way to the food. Once we saw smoke rising from the south corner, we knew we found our yakitori A-Team. Like stalking paparazzi, we hung around the Shin Sen Gumi booth for a good 10 minutes as we took pictures of the yakitori, the cooks and their binchotan (Japanese charcoal).
The only yakitori the Shin Sen Gumi gangsters were grilling at the Matsuri were Tare negi's -- chicken thighs with Japanese leeks. Of course we would of loved some hearts and gizzards, but for $8, 5 yakitori sticks certaintly satisfied our bellies.
After Shin Sen Gumi, we rushed over to the Gaja booth for what people are calling , "The best Okonomiyaki outside of Osaka." For years I've refused to try okonomiyaki in Los Angeles knowing that nothing will compare to some of the greatness I've had in Osaka while living there.
With much anticipation after hearing great reviews on Gaja's okonomiyaki, I was ready to fight my fears of eating a disappointing okonomiyaki. To my surprise, Gaja's okonomiyaki was close to being on ON POINT. They dressed my okonomiyaki up beautifully but failed to go crazy with the Kewpie Mayonnaise. As much as I don't care for extreme usage of Kewpie Mayonnaise, okonomiyaki is the one exception where I crave TONS of mayo. Regardless of their Kewpie mayo skimpyness, for $5, I was pretty happy. I'll bring my own mayo next year.
Like every festival, we were bound to run into blah food. You know, the food that's not only a waste of space, but just a waste of money. The Hokkaido Lamb bowl was really horrible. Dry and gamey is all I can say. The yakisoba was just ok. I'm just not a yakisoba lover, it's actually my least favorite noodle dish. Bleeeechhh!
Gaja Okonomiyaki ($5): B
Hokkaido Lamb ($5): G-
Yakisoba ($5): C-
Bridge USA Natsu Matsuri
venue: Torrance Cultural Arts Center
3330 Civic Center Dr
Torrance, CA 90503
*Bridge USA Natsu Matsuri is usually held on the Saturday after 4th of July.