Aside from judging pickles and standing in line for hours at various street food vendors at last year’s Bay Area Eat Real Fest, I also attended the adjunct Eat Real Lit Fest. It featured a wide range of brainy foodies alternately reading from their works or extemporizing on the topic of street food and other burgeoning trends.
One of the highlights was local chef Richie Nakano. Cribbing from his notes and brandishing his inked arms, he regaled the audience with the saga of how he left a stable kitchen gig to launch his own street food business, Hapa Ramen. On opening day, exhausted from an all-night noodle-making session, faced with missing valves and other logistical problems, Richie was exasperated. But he persevered and went on to become one of the hottest street vendors in the city of San Francisco, as well as one of my more regular lunch treats on market days at the Ferry Building.
Richie’s ramen is worth the trip, for sure, but should you find yourself at his booth, don’t forget to order the extra carton of kimchi and pickles for just a buck more. Richie uses seasonal veggies for the pickles, which rest on a bed of salty-spicy kimchi.