Famima’s Chicken Curry Bread – Deep-fried Cavern of Nothing

famima, 3rd street promenade, santa monica, los angeles, ca
If it isn’t there, it. Just. Isn’t. There.

No matter how hard you try, no matter what your friends might tell you about how perfectly you “match,” no matter how much hype there is about how amazing/cool/funny/awesome/charming he is, if you don’t feel it, you don’t feel it.

Did I say “he?” *blush*

I meant “it.” Er.

What I really meant is “Famima.”

I tried to like Famima. Everyone else in the civilized world where Famima has leased space and built out its pea-green and matte brushed silver decor loves it. My friends tell me it’s perfect for fashionable foodish me-on-the-go.

No.

I don’t feel it for Famima.

In fact, the only thing I feel for Famima is a tiny bit of contempt for its marketing department because I am envious that they have been able to create so much hype out of nothing. That’s talent. Famima is a convenience store. It sells chips. It sells bottled drinks. It sells hot food. It sells cold food that the pimple-faced, frosted tips, half-Japanese anime rocker grunge wannabe boy behind the register will heat up in a microwave for you.

I believe the Engrish translation of “Famima” is “7-11.” Oh, my bad.I didn’t take Japanese 1A at Cal because it was impacted. It’s “Circle K.” And Famima doesn’t even have taquitos.

The problem is, I really want to like Famima expressly because it is convenient. The Promenade location is closer than a touchdown pass from my office. I like to run into a place, grab food, and run out without having to wait in line, take a number, and pour myself 11 miniature cups of salsa to distract myself from watching the clock. On a pure product-to-product comparison, Famima is more expensive, but when you’re only buying a single Chicken Curry Bread for $2.50, it’s “cheap.”

Close. Convenient. Cheap. Famima has the 3Cs of marketing. (Clearly, I learned nothing in business school.)

Unfortunately, Famima also suffers from a fourth C that describe the quality of its hot foods — cavernous. (Hey, I don’t use the word “crap” when talking about food, no matter how bad it is.) The Chicken Curry Bread is only $2.50 because there is about 16 cents worth of chicken curry inside. Behind the counter, the steam filled case with condensation running down in long, clarifying lines along the glass panels got my attention. The gorgeous dome of deep-fried gold flirted with my visual sense. It was hot, baby. Hot. I fell foolishly for the damned thing based on superficial qualities alone.

famima!! santa monica, los angeles, ca - chicken curry bread
swayed by gorgeous
famima!! santa monica, los angeles, ca - chicken curry bread
hello? hollow

But when I cracked the chicken curry bread open and got a true look and taste of what was inside, I was beyond disappointed. The bread was virtually empty. Hollow. Cavernous. What little there was inside was sticky and bland. I wanted to like it because it’s curry and fried and cheap. Unfortunately, no matter how much I tell myself that I can be happy with a pretty face, I know I can’t. I need substance.

Famima. It just isn’t there.

Famima!!
1348 3rd Street Promenade (just north of Santa Monica Blvd)
Santa Monica, CA 90401
310.393.2486

www.famima-usa.com

** a year ago today, it was the hottest date i’d had all year **
** two years ago today, i wanted some of your tots. and kay-suh-dillahs. **

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  • Rachael

    I like it for the cutsey-ness of it all, but I agree, its just a fancy 7-11. The bao are hideously rubbery too, btw. On the other hand, I do pop in for a tuna hand roll sometimes, and I like um.

    Glad you arent a sheep! (Hee hee)

  • GT

    Did you know a Japanese corp owns 7-11? I only like the rice balls with fish in the middle. Anyway, doesn’t Famina sound like a word derived from “famine?” Not exactly a good association for a quikie mart, but I guess in the case of your little curry pockets it’s pretty fitting.

  • jason

    try the smoked havarti and turkey sandwich. It’s not bad. Although the 5 bucks would be better spent at a in-n-out.

    But hey it’s one of the few places that’s open past 10pm in my neighborhood.

  • jason

    try the smoked havarti and turkey sandwich. It’s not bad. Although the 5 bucks would be better spent at a in-n-out.

    But hey it’s one of the few places that’s open past 10pm in my neighborhood.

  • Chef K C

    Hey Sarah, may suggest you try eating curry with coconut milk or even with chocolate. They blend well. Try visiting my site and don’t worry I will try making one.

  • sarah

    rachael: oh the bao – i didn’t even bother to write about it because at least with the chicken curry bread, it makes for an interesting photo. the bao are always gooey because of the steam condensation. ick.

    gt: you know what i don’t get either? the korean language doesn’t even have the “f” sound, so i assumed that the japanese language doesn’t either, so i couldn’t figure out why they would call it “Famima.” koreans would say it “hamima.”

    jason: yeah, the sandwiches aren’t bad, and of course, i could always just have a bag of chips :)

    kc: i don’t like coconut milk AT ALL and i am now allergic to chocolate. next! ;)

  • sarah

    rachael: oh the bao – i didn’t even bother to write about it because at least with the chicken curry bread, it makes for an interesting photo. the bao are always gooey because of the steam condensation. ick.

    gt: you know what i don’t get either? the korean language doesn’t even have the “f” sound, so i assumed that the japanese language doesn’t either, so i couldn’t figure out why they would call it “Famima.” koreans would say it “hamima.”

    jason: yeah, the sandwiches aren’t bad, and of course, i could always just have a bag of chips :)

    kc: i don’t like coconut milk AT ALL and i am now allergic to chocolate. next! ;)

  • Matt Schantz

    One exclamation mark – punctuation!

    Three exclamation marks – hyperbole!!!

    Two exclamation marks – confusing!!

    ?

  • sarah

    mattschantz: you just made me smile. :)

  • sarah

    mattschantz: you just made me smile. :)

  • lomo

    It would seem “Famima” is an abreviation for “Family Mart” a Japanese convience store chain (http://www.family.co.jp/). In Japanese it is pronounced “Famarima-to” . Think phonetically. That “r” sounds like a “l”.

  • lomo

    It would seem “Famima” is an abreviation for “Family Mart” a Japanese convience store chain (http://www.family.co.jp/). In Japanese it is pronounced “Famarima-to” . Think phonetically. That “r” sounds like a “l”.

  • KT

    I was pretty underwhelmed by Famima!!! too. I much prefer the real Asian markets scattered around the city.

    I do like the onigiri only because it’s a snack I like that’s not readily available in American stores. Otherwise … I’m supposed to get excited about Pocky and Kettle Chips?

  • Anonymous

    Famima is going down! That is my guess and I am sticking to it.

    http://www.interactivehank.com/docs/images/misc/famima/famima.html

    –H

  • hermz

    I found a reason to regularly stop at Famima, recently. They have the muscat and lychee gummies for cheaper than anywhere else. And it’s closer for me than schlepping over to Mitsuwa or CA Market. woo hoo!

  • Jason Truesdell

    Japanese has a sound close to an f sound (fu, or in this case fuamarii maruto)… but I’m not sure why the US version of Family Mart chose Famima… Maybe Family Mart doesn’t sound Japanese enough to be interesting?

    I never asked how the (also numerous) Family Mart shops in Korea pronounce their name, but based on my vague memory and their Korean web site, I think it comes out as “hwaemari maatu”.

    I don’t think curry pan I’ve seen at bakeries in Japan have much filling in them usually either, but I don’t generally eat them since I’m vegetarian :P Thanks to the physics of steam they will always have an air pocket, but I suppose you could find a way to put in a bit more filling.

  • Jason Truesdell

    Japanese has a sound close to an f sound (fu, or in this case fuamarii maruto)… but I’m not sure why the US version of Family Mart chose Famima… Maybe Family Mart doesn’t sound Japanese enough to be interesting?

    I never asked how the (also numerous) Family Mart shops in Korea pronounce their name, but based on my vague memory and their Korean web site, I think it comes out as “hwaemari maatu”.

    I don’t think curry pan I’ve seen at bakeries in Japan have much filling in them usually either, but I don’t generally eat them since I’m vegetarian :P Thanks to the physics of steam they will always have an air pocket, but I suppose you could find a way to put in a bit more filling.

  • foodette

    Yes, I agree. Famima’s WeHo location is a block from where I work, and everyone always wants to go there for lunch, calling it the “upscale 7Eleven” or for short, “8Twelve”. And I like that they sell Pocky sticks, but that’s about it. The packaged items look terrible to me, and once I had the chicken soup, which had lumps. Yep. Clear soups shouldn’t have lumps, but then again, it wasn’t clear.

    Anyway, I know you wrote this months ago, but I just had to say, I’m with you on this one!!

  • Richard

    Famima is short for Family mart. its a Japanese thing, they shorten English names to make them easier to say, basically its slang.
    For instance;
    Starbucks = Staba
    Kentucky Fried Chicken = Kenta
    Software = sofuto

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