Seven hours of driving from Monterey County to SoCal with an hour consisting mostly of LA traffic, think “stop and go” or “no go” at all, and all you’d want afterwards is taco. If you’re The Hubby, you’d want taco. I, on the other hand, wanted ramen. While The Hubby’s college friend, who we planned to see during our quick overnight stay in La La Land, wanted pho because he was feeling sick. Ramen won this round of “choose a place to eat rock-paper-scissors” (we didn’t literally play though) so we ended up searching for a Japanese restaurant within Long Beach. There were only a few Japanese restaurants to choose from in Long Beach and because (at the time!) it had an 84% Urbanspoon rating and 3.5 Yelp stars out of 660+ raters, we chose Octopus Japanese Restaurant.
When we entered the restaurant, I had a deja vu. On the wall by the hostesses are framed awards. I wish I took a photo of them because I found them more portentous rather than reassuring. We were seated and then handed two menus. One too many. I knew what I wanted so I took a quick glance of the “Soup & Noodles” section and found exactly what I was looking for. The Hubby and Cesar took a little longer to figure out what they wanted, which is acceptable because they had to shift gears from taco and pho, respectively. While they figured out what to order, the hostess who seated us tried to make friendly conversation that turned aggressive as she tried to push the special on us. Mackerel. The special was mackerel. Any other time I’d like mackerel but dammit, hostess, don’t be pushy. After the aggressive push, we were left alone for a while. Servers passed by but no one stopped to check on us. We knew that we’d have to flag someone so we actually ended up doing that. Already not a good start.
We finally got our orders in, which unusually came out fast. I felt that foreboding feeling again. Sure enough, when I took a taste of my Spicy Seafood Ramen with Inari on the side, I tasted trouble. The broth the ramen swam in was far too much on the salty side, it wasn’t even spicy, and had very little mouth feel, if any. Then I had the noodles and seafood… if I had gauntlets on, I’d have thrown them down in disgust and maybe instigated a duel. Who serves bloated ramen noodles with chewy seafood?! Really?! The ramen I had was an insult to ramen lovers and ramen cooks. Yes, the ramen was that terrible. Yes, I finished it because I can’t stand not finishing my meal. Yes, I grimaced each time the salty soup or the pulpy noodles entered my mouth.
This restaurant has 3.5 stars in Yelp? Was the chef/cooks not having a good night on the night we went or is the restaurant known only for good drinks, or good lighting?
Let me tell you how the inari tasted – flat and sour. And the salmon roll – very little rice, and it was mushy rice at that, and where’s the salmon? Such itty bitty salmon. Hidden by other stuff. I thought it was called Salmon Roll, not “Other Stuff Roll”. It’s interesting how the food photos shown in the restaurant’s website all look amazing, maybe they tasted amazing too and all the people lucky enough to eat them after the photo shoot went “Nom, nom, nom, nom, nom…”. What a different experience from what I had. I didn’t go “nom”. Not even once.
The Hubby was kind and said that he’d had better stir fried noodle dishes. He said that his Yaki Udon Seafood was “not bad”. Which is true. Because really, it was also “not good”. I tried it, so I know. By the by, he just drove seven hours including driving through LA traffic and he was hungry, and outside of those conditions, I knew he’d be more critical because we both were in agreement over the “Other Stuff Roll” that we shared. Cesar was fine with his Nabeyaki Udon and California Roll Combo but was not satisfied with his tea. I told him that how he felt about his tea is how I felt about the spicy seafood ramen and everything else.
If I could turn back time, back to when we were at our hotel room going through a list of Long Beach restaurants, we’d have chosen Roscoe’s House of Chicken instead. The Hubby wanted to try it out. But I wished for ramen and I got it. Next time, I’ll make sure to wish for excellent ramen.