Tasting Japan in Long Beach
Story and photos by Delaney Tran
Long Beach hosted its first Taste of Japan last Saturday, a Japanese festival filled with culture, food and fun. Everything from the food to the entertainment and vendors were all Japanese-related, giving attendees an exciting glimpse into Japan’s culture. Held at the Pike Outlets under the beaming sun, there was live music, martial arts performances and, of course, lots of foods to try from.
This is a “mikoshi,” a sacred palanquin believed to house and transport a deity and used as a means to bless a festival. At the introduction of this ritual, it was mentioned how it was started because many people couldn’t go to a shrine. So, in this way, the shrine was brought to the people. Before carrying the palanquin, staff from Taste of Japan and crowd volunteers “kanpai” (toasted) with sake and Calpico. They carried the palanquin around each of the vendors with exuberant chantings to bless the festival with good luck.
A “katsu” sandwich from Katsu Brothers with pork “katsu,” lettuce, carrots, red spicy miso sauce between two slices of bread. You get the soft texture of bread with the crunch of the “katsu” for a really satisfying sandwich bite.
Tonkotsu Shoyu Ramen from Marushin Ramen had chunks of “chashu” (pork), green onions, seaweed and ramen noodles in a harmonious creamy and flavorful “tonkotsu” (pork-based) broth.
“Karaage,” Japanese fried chicken, glistens with sweet and spicy sauce from Tenkatori. It was a boneless thigh fried to perfection with a crispy, crunchy skin. They have physical restaurant locations in Gardena and Costa Mesa.
Fluffy with a melt-in-your-mouth texture, Japanese cheesecake from Uncle Tetsu came in multiple flavors, although what is seen here is their original and matcha flavors. For those who want to try a slice, Uncle Tetsu has locations in Torrance, San Mateo and Arcadia.
Robin Kim, 19, tries to scoop a fish using a paper net, a traditional festival game called “kingyo sukui,” or goldfish scooping. Because you only get a flat paper net, it’s difficult to catch a fish, especially if you lift the net too fast out the water or leave it in the water for too long. It’ll rip!
“Gashapon” or “gachapon” are stacked on top of each other from Gacha x2. The name “gachapon” derived from the sound of the wheel turning (“gacha”) and when the toy capsule lands in the collection tray (“pon”). It is very similar to America’s toy-vending machines, except these are known for their unique toys, including a small figure of a cat with a towel hat, a keychain of an anime character or a figure of a staple gun.
Taste of Japan plans to hold its festival in other cities such as Cerritos and Lakewood, with a possibly return to Long Beach. But you don’t have to wait that long; some Japanese food are easily accessible with a quick search on Google Maps or just a drive away. You won’t get that festival feel, but you most certainly can take a bite of Japan any day in California.