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San Jose Ramen Yokocho Fest 2014

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The Ramen Yokocho Fest started in 2013 with the goal of becoming the largest Ramen festival in the United States.  They've quickly expanded in their two years and have often been met by jaw-dropping crowds at every venue they've booked, reflective of both how popular ramen has become, but also indicative of the quality of ramen shops that participate, including some of the top ramen shops from Japan and the United States.

2014 was their first stop to Northern California and their visit to San Francisco in July at the J-Pop Summit was met with estimated crowds of up to 100,000 visitors and many complaints of 3 hour long lines, shops running out of noodles, and more.

For their visit to San Jose, the organizers instituted several changes that they hoped would keep the crowds but lead to a happier experience for ramen lovers.  These changes included a flat $5 admission charge, a larger indoor/outdoor venue, and ramen express lines tickets (to skip long lines) and VIP admission t…

Thoughts on Omakase

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THOUGHTS ON OMAKASE Omakase (お任せ o-makase?) is a Japanese phrase that means "I'll leave it to you" and the expression is usually used at sushi restaurants to leave the selection to the chef.
"My long held suspicion about "omakase" came true as I had my third, good, but not great, omakase meal.

To the uninitiated, "omakase" refers to "chef's choice" and involves a custom menu designed and chosen by the head chef.

Its often exciting, novel, and showcases specialties you may not be aware of or have ever tried.

Some people like to say their favorite cuisine is "omakase." But like saying your favorite website is Google, that empty statement doesn't actually reveal anything or show any culinary sophistication, despite the price tags associated with such meals.

Ideally, I imagine "omakase" works best when you are a frequent diner known to the chef and he knows your likes and dislikes. Or if you're a first time…