Monday, March 7, 2011
My family and I went to Shin Sen Gumi for their yakitori but fell prey to the ramen side. Ms. Lin and I joked about going to both. Actually she was very adamant in trying their ramen out and somehow convinced the other to go. We were pretty full from our meal of yakitori, sushi, and more but there's always room for another meal next door. After all the talk and long lines for Shin Sen Gumi's Hakata Ramen, I thought it would have blown my mind away. Albeit, I am a new fan of ramen and a hard one to win over but I thought they would be the one to take the cake. After trying Momofuku in NYC, I fell in love with the savory soup surrounding the freshly made ramen noodles. Each component added on only strengthens the flavor, taste, and texture. Here, they specialize in what they claim to be a traditional specialty of Hakata located northwest of Kyushu. They start off with a thick white soup made from pork bones called Tonkotsu then add cha-su, chopped scallions, red colored ginger, and sesame seeds.
We decided to go basic and just rely on the natural slow cooked broth. If a ramen is good, then it doesn't really need anything else to dress it up. Besides, we have never been here before so we weren't quite sure what flavors would go well with the ramen. They have a wide selection of additives that you can order/buy. Be prepared to be asked how cooked/hard you want your noodles, the thickness & richness of your soup, and how much oil is added. The soup base was not bad and the noodles were cooked well. It is more on the lighter side. I personally like more flavor that ruminates through your mouth. If you order a ramen just for yourself, you are permitted to ask for more noodles at only $1 extra charge. This is not a bad deal for anyone who's hungry and on a budget.
Even though we were really full, we didn't want to occupy wasted space by just sharing a bowl of ramen so we all ended up ordering an extra dish to fill the void. Ms. Lin chose to order the Wasabi Octopus. After I introduced it to her in Las Vegas, she can't help ordering it everywhere we go. To our surprise, the portion was T-I-N-Y! I just wish the prices reflected the size. *sigh* The flavor was decent but on the lighter side. I wouldn't recommend this in the future because there are other places who have bigger portions, more flavor, and at a cheaper price.
For my dish, I chose their Special Home Made Pan Fried Dumplings. They are super tiny just like the other dish. You do get a good amount but they all fit on a tiny plate. If you come for lunch and got the set with the ramen then it would be worth it, but ordering it as a dish... nah. Yes, we already ate a full meal next door but even on a full stomach this order was nowhere near filling. I wasn't that impressed with the flavor because they had a strong flavor of ginger. The meat hand a sandier texture than what I would like and I wished the skin was just a little thicker/crispier. This could be because they are so small that the skin is also flimsier, hence not really my cup of tea but maybe others look for this.
All in all, I wasn't too impressed and not really inclined to come back for this. The most I would order is the ramen because it wasn't too bad. That day they gave me a coupon/ad about an event where the ramen would be super cheap for the 1st few hundred. I can't even think about the crowd and how I would rather pay more just to avoid that! lol If you plan to eat at either side of Shin Sen Gumi, do keep in mind it can get packed fast and space is limited! So be sure to come early and avoid big crowds unless you are there right when they open. I am sticking to the yakitori side to get my meat fill, but I am glad I finally tried their infamous ramen out.
Shin Sen Gumi Hakata Ramen
18315 Brookhurst St
Fountain Valley, CA 92708