I first met Tajima-san (the original owner) shortly before he closed the Rowland Heights Tampopo earlier this year. As we talked, he acknowledged the public’s familiarity with Tampopo, the movie, and confessed his desire to build a franchise of Tampopo restaurants along the West Coast. After first opening this Gardena location, he went on to open three more in Costa Mesa, Irvine, and the aforementioned Rowland Heights. Sadly, those three are now closed and this last remaining Tampopo is owned and operated by somebody else.
What I’m about to say next might irk Tajima-san (and others), but I hope he gets to read this so he understands the reality of what’s going on. The Gardena Tampopo is not at all living up to the aging movie. In fact, it may be tarnishing the name instead. Soon enough, Tampopo Ramen will no longer be associated with a wonderful movie, but with a bad taste in one’s mouth. I hate to say it, but that’s the truth. Tajima-san, please come back and open YOUR Tampopo before it becomes too late…onegai!!