HORSE’S MOUTH: British High on Ramen

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By GEORGE YOSHINAGA

WOW! Would you pay $1 to go to Las Vegas?

Beginning Dec. 12, there will be bus service from Union Station in downtown L.A. offering the $1 fare on a double-decker bus to Downtown Vegas.

Of course, those wishing to use the dollar service have to book early to ensure a seat.

The regular bus fare is $14.95 each way or 30 bucks round trip. Hey, maybe I’ll give it a try.

I’m not sure how many buses they will run at the dollar price, but I’m sure seats will be going fast.

Gee. $1. That’s four quarters. I put four quarters in a slot machine in less than a minute.

Needless to say, ramen is a popular dish in J-Town and throughout the U.S.

The Japanese noodle is catching on with the taste buds of Britons in London. The British are beginning to enjoy the noodle soup and enterprising restaurant owners are getting behind the ramen boom.

In March, Ittenbari became the first to open its doors in London. Following Ittenbari were Ryukishin and Tonkotsu.

Ittenbari started out with a large number of Japanese and Chinese customers, but the local British population has developed a taste for ramen.

When Ittenbari first opened, many of the local people went for sushi, but when they saw ramen on the menu they asked, “What’s ramen?”

Now locals are beginning to come in just for ramen, so many Japanese eateries in London are adding ramen to their sushi menus.

As one Japanese restaurant owner commented, “Every time I saw a Brit in Japan, I would hear them say, ‘I wish I had that (ramen) in London.’ So, I knew if good ramen was sold in London, it would be accepted.”

Recently, more established Japanese food chains such as Yo Sushi, a “kaiten” (conveyor belt) sushi chain, have introduced ramen to their menus.

Regular ramen is priced at $8.90 per serving.

There is one aspect of ramen culture that has yet to catch on with the Brits, and that is the custom of making a slurping sound while eating ramen. It’s still a step too far for

British customers, so there’s no slurping going on.

Can we jump from ramen to Hawaiian food, especially in Las Vegas?

Those of you who drive on Highway 15 might want to try seeing how many cars on the road to Vegas have Hawaiian Island stickers on their back windows.

Keep in mind the entire population of the State of Hawaii is less than 1.3 million, and according to the 2010 Census, less than Clark County. Yet according to the Las Vegas

Convention and Visitors Authority, in 2010 there were approximately 7,000 airline seats flying from Hawaii to McCarran International Airport every week, bringing 260,000 visitors from Honolulu to Vegas.

So what are all these Hawaii folks doing in Vegas? Eating Hawaiian cuisine.

There are nearly 50 establishments in Vegas catering to Hawaiians. Sites like Roy’s Hawaiian fusion restaurants.

But food service isn’t the only industry in which Hawaiians have invested in Vegas. Coming from a place where tourism is king and generosity is a cultural benchmark,

Hawaiians are a natural fit for all aspects of the casino industry.

While mentioning those who drive to Vegas, most of you probably noticed a small building at the state line on Highway 15.

It’s where they sell California lottery tickets. Because the State of Nevada doesn’t allow the sale of lottery tickets, Nevadans who want to buy lottery tickets have to travel to the state line.

Needless to say, with the Mega Millions lottery prize hitting $500 million this week, the number of buyers going out of state to Arizona reached thousands.

I always get a chuckle when these people go wild when the winning prize reaches into the mega-millions.

Heck, I’m satisfied buying the California lottery when it hits $10 million.

I’ve been buying the Cal lottery since it was first established, but haven’t even come close to winning the top prize.

The Cal lottery hit “only” $15 million, but that’s more than enough for me.

What I would I do with $15 million? Probably buy a house in Vegas.

I also get a chuckle when people are interviewed about what they would do if they win $500 million.

One guy said he would quit his job. Yeah, I guess if one had $500 million, he wouldn’t have to work anymore.

Then there’s the lady who said, “I’ll buy a new car.”

A new car? Heck, she could buy a car dealership.

I’m not sure why, but over the past few days, I’ve been receiving email about the days we spent at Heart Mountain internment camp, especially about those of us who spent time at the high school.

One reader said she collects photographs taken during our camp days and came across one that had written at the bottom of the shot, “Photo taken by George Yoshinaga.”

I don’t remember ever taking the photo, but the person in the shot said, “Yes, Yoshinaga took the picture.”

The person who sent me the photo said that he also had a shot of the Heart Mountain High School varsity football team wearing the number 89 on the jersey.

Yes, I remember playing for the high school varsity team, which played against three “outside” high school teams and the camp all-stars.

We won every game and also didn’t allow any points to be scored against us.

One incident while playing against the “outside” high school team is a comment that a player from Worland High School (one of Wyoming’s top prep teams) made after we beat them. He commented, “Gee, I didn’t even know these Japanese kids knew how to play football, let alone beat us.”

I guess the Wyoming kids didn’t know that many of the Nisei players were members of their “outside” prep teams before being shipped off to camp.

I know I was only a second-stringer on the high school team before evacuation, but our prep squad was undefeated and league champions for three straight years during which we beat all our opponents by big margins. Even as a sub, I got to see a lot of action.

So, playing against a high school team in Wyoming was almost nothing for me.

At any rate, I want to thank the reader for rekindling my memories of Heart Mountain.

Who would have imagined that I’d wind up in Wyoming in my final days as a high school student?

I don’t know if I touched on the subject before, but about four years ago I received a notice to report for jury duty.

I filled out the form and noticed that anyone over the age of 70 could register as having medical problems, and at that age would not need a doctor’s approval to be excused from jury duty.

Well, I got my approval to be excused.

However, every year I still keep getting jury duty notices. So I filled out the form and put in my age and my doctor’s name and phone number.Guess what? I got another report for jury duty notice the other day, so I filled it out and sent it in, stating I had already received permanent approval to avoid jury duty.

Yeah, you guessed it.

I received another notice saying that if I didn’t report for jury duty as instructed, I could face a large monetary fine.

How many of you out there in readerland have been confronted with a similar situation?

Who in the heck runs these jury duty petitions?

Oh well, if my column is missing next week it would mean I couldn’t pay the fine for missing my jury duty and am spending time in the L.A. County Jail.

Okay, don’t all of you cheer, “Hooray!”

The next election is set for March 2013. Terry Hara is one of those seeking office. He’s running for a L.A. City Council seat.

Another political race I was wondering about is also in March. This one is the race for mayor of Gardena.

Since the current mayor is Paul Tanaka, I wondered if he would seek the seat again, since he was given the post of undersheriff, the highest-ranking seat behind Sheriff Lee Baca.

I figured his high post in the Sheriff’s Department might make it tough to also serve as the mayor.

Well, all doubts were removed. Tanaka said he will seek re-election in March.

As a resident of Gardena, I welcome the news.

He’s accomplished a lot as mayor for the past two terms, and I think he can keep the city operating in an efficient manner. I think most of the citizens of Gardena feel the same way.

Go get ’em, Paul.

Since much of our attention was focused on the presidential election, we overlooked other campaigns for office, many of them local races.

I was reminded of this when I received a notification of the “oath of office” ceremony to be held next Monday for Supervisor Mike Antonovich, who was re-elected to serve another term for the 5th District.

Glad to offer Mike much-deserved congratulations.

I’ve known Mike for many, many years, even before he became an elected official.

If all goes well, I hope to be present when he accepts another term as supervisor.

Well, maybe I’m just running out of gas, but I find myself noting, “I’m a bit short today,” and I seem to be making the comment more and more frequently.

I guess I’ll just have to get more active in what I do so that I can continue to fill the space allotted to me by The Rafu’s editorial staff.

Well, I’ll do more than sit around my house puffing on my cigar. Then I know I’ll fill a lot more space.

Until next Tuesday.

George Yoshinaga writes from Gardena and may be reached via e-mail at [email protected] Opinions expressed in this column are not necessarily those of The Rafu Shimpo.

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