Sunday, November 30, 2008

Fulfilled - Beverly Hills (Closed)

As I said, several weeks ago, I received an invitation to a pre-grand opening free tasting of Fulfilled, a Japanese imagawa-yaki pastry shop in Beverly Hills. Since I didn't want to go alone, I asked the owner if I could bring a guest and invited Cathy of Gastronomy along. So after grabbing some lahmajoun from Abraham Partamian Armenian Bakery, I picked her up from work.

Notice it's just a few doors down from Pinkberry? Think Japanese stuffed pancakes will take off like tart frozen yogurt? It's at least situated in the right zip code. 90210!

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In the front window, you can see them making the "imas" as Fulfilled likes to call them.

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Owner Susumu Tsuchihashi left the corporate world and traveled back and forth from Japan for the past year to research the history and method for making this popular snack. Imagawa-yaki is a stuffed pancake that originated in Tokyo, Japan in the early 1800s during the Edo period. At Fulfilled, the imas are made according to tradition, but the fillings are a modern fusion of ingredients.

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When we entered, we were immediately treated to Lil Misa's Tea, an iced azuki (Japanese red bean) green tea honey latte with chili flakes sprinkled on top. The milky tea was a tad on the sweet side and reminded me of che (Vietnamese pudding). The straws were too small though so I couldn't suck up any of the mashed red beans. Note: need bigger straws. Just one of those things they needed to iron out before the grand opening a few days later.

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The sweet and savory flavors.

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Here's a video of them making the imagawa-yaki. Well, of them trying to unstick the imas. They had a bit of trouble since the pans hadn't been seasoned enough. You've probably seen these made on a copper pan at Mitsuri Cafe in Little Tokyo, which you can see on Henry Chan's Food Videos. Unfortunately, Tsuchihashi wasn't allowed to use copper pans in Beverly Hills and the cast aluminum pans were more difficult. He says the pans are now well-seasoned and there aren't any more problems.

He also improved the batter and more than doubled the filling. So just imagine these photos with twice the filling.

The first ima that I tried was the Nutty Buddha with Ghirardelli chocolate, toffee, and crunchy peanut butter. It was chocolatey, gooey, and warm. I wouldn't mind waking up to this for breakfast.

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We were also given champagne, which was a good palate-cleanser before sampling savory imas.

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This was the Green Ninja with spinach, feta cheese, and sundried tomato. Hopefully with the doubled fillings the flavors will come out more. I tasted the feta but the spinach and tomatoes were pretty muted.

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Honey Yakuza with goat cheese, mission figs, honey, walnut, and cracked black pepper. Hmm. I don't remember tasting the black pepper. The goat cheese and figs were a great combo though. One of my favorites of the night.

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I think this was the Spicy Samurai with chicken apple sausage, pepper jack cheese, green chili, and fresh cilantro.

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Or was it the Sumo Italiano with Prosciutto di Parma, smoked ham, aged Parmesan, and fresh basil? I remember both looking similar, tried them both, and liked them both so you can't go wrong either way.

Tsuchihashi said he decided to set up shop in Beverly Hills because it attracts all ethnic groups as well as tourists.

And celebrities.

Paris Hilton is a repeat customer. After she leaves the shop, followed by a swarm of paparazzi, Fulfilled gets an immediate surge of business, he said.

So will "imas" become the latest craze to hit SoCal? Well, it's got the location, the celebrities (Check out the Fulfilled website for pictures of Carmen Electra, Rick Fox, and Tori Spelling enjoying imas.), and the trendy product.

And around $2.75 each, it's priced on par with a cupcake or a small frozen yogurt. I'd far rather eat an ima than a cupcake any day. The frugal side of me, though, will point out that I can buy the Chinese version with traditional fillings at the San Gabriel Superstore for 60 cents. Of course, at that price, I don't get gourmet ingredients or the chance to bump into Paris with a gaggle of photogs in tail.

This economy isn't the best time to start a business, but Tsuchihashi didn't want to delay launching his dream. I gotta give him props for that and really hope Fulfilled takes off.

He also is nicely offering a discount to my readers, so if you're in the area, please give Fulfilled a try. Mention "Wandering Chopsticks" for a 20% discount on imas. Offer good until January 31, 2009.

August 31, 2009 Update: This shop's location is closed. Fulfilled still offers catering, however.

Who else ate at Fulfilled?
Cathy of Gastronomy liked the Nutty Buddha and Honey Yakuza flavors.
I also had the chance to meet Pirikara of Mikey Hates Everything who says Tsuchihashi even sold his condo to finance his dream.

9405 S. Santa Monica Blvd.
Beverly Hills, CA 90210
10:30 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Free two-hour parking is available across the street with entrances on Beverly and Canon Drives.

1 year ago today, tagged!


  1. I've never heard of these before. Now I gotta try one next time I'm at the Superstore. Where would they be at?

  2. Awww, would've gone and carpooled with ya if I knew you were going (driving solo in weekday rush hour to BH for imas, yea... umm... no). I like the cart outside the Superstore too, I usually get the custard & azuki beans.

  3. How cool! I've never heard of imas though your photos make them look scrumptious - like they might have a light crust on the outside. I don't think I'll be heading into BH any time soon, but it was fascinating to read your post.

  4. Count me in as someone who hasn't heard of this before either. Very interesting. What does the pancake taste like? Is it sweet, flour-y, spongey? I imagine it tasting like a regular pancake, the kind I pour a ton of maple syrup on, but I think I'm absolutely wrong.

  5. hi W.C. Hope you are ok. Haven't been cooking lately so I kinda miss your food. The photos look so good. I've never heard of this or seen it before. hmmm Britain has a lot of catching up to do when it comes to food.

  6. Oh, so these are called Imas. They're everywhere in Singapore, I've been eating them since I was little but the savory flavors are limited to cheese. The ones you had looked yummy, especially the goat's cheese one.

  7. Is there a specific reason why he can't use copper pans in Beverly Hills?

  8. sumo italiano! savory cake! I am 100% sold! want em want em want em!

  9. SIS,
    They on the SG Blvd. entrance. If you clicked on my SG Superstore link in the post, I have video and pictures of the Chinese version.

    I should have checked with you too! We totally could have carpooled. And hey, isn't it your turn to drive when we go next? :)

    Just a slightly crisp outside crust.

    Actually, you're right. It tastes like a normal pancake. Something neutral so the filling flavors can shine through.

    Maybe they have this in London? Although I don't remember any when I was there. They've been around for a long time, just not sure how popular they are in other parts of the world.

    Cheese! I'm assuming the Singaporean versions would be adaptations of the Chinese ones so cheese as a filling is interesting to me.

    Coffee Travails,
    The copper pans aren't allowed in BH, but I don't know the legal codes as to why. The ones in Little Tokyo exist because they've been around longer, so they were grandfathered in when the codes changed.

    I think you want them b/c they're cute! That'll get you to buy every time. :)

  10. Yep! Just let me know what we're hitting up next time :) -- probably gonna be '09 given all the holiday stuff we both will have going on.

  11. HC,
    I've been craving Ethiopian food lately. Maybe we can organize a group outing to Fairfax?


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