Santouka Ramen: Good, but not “Shin-sen-gumi” good

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665 Paularino Ave
Costa Mesa, CA 92626
(714) 434-1101

Shin-sen-gumi is getting some stiff competition from this place. Santouka Ramen is hidden inside Mitsuwa marketplace, so it’s hard to find this place unless someone told you about it, or you actively searched for a new ramen place to try, which is what I did.

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We walked in and noticed that this ramen shop is small. It basically looks like fast food ramen, and it feels that way too. You walk up to the counter and you look at the display to see what you want to eat. Each type of ramen has a number for easy ordering. You call out your number of what you want, and you sit and wait for your ramen to be made. Julie ordered the miso ramen with cha siu, while I ordered the salt ramen with cha siu. It actually came out a lot faster than I had anticipated, much faster than Shin-sen-gumi.

I have to admit, I had a high bar set in my head of what I wanted and expected from a bowl of ramen, and this place can thank Shin-sen-gumi for that. When I had my first bite, I have to admit, I thought it was wonderful. The noodles were firm, just the way I like it. The cha siu was tender and moist. The broth itself was well flavored, although I thought it was going to be very salty since it technically was called Salt Ramen Cha Siu. However, the broth was very oily. I can taste the oil on the brim of my lips while I was eating my bowl of ramen. Just be forewarned if your on the brink of having a small heart attack. To rank this broth, I would say its not as deep as Shin-sen-gumi’s broth, but it’s not as light and plain as Ajisen’s broth.
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Julie had the miso cha siu ramen bowl and I was able to taste it. I like her miso broth better. It definitely offered up something more complex and flavorful, so get that next time if you are going to try this place out.

Is this place better than Shin-sen-gumi? I’m going to have to say close, but no cigar. I like the ramen noodles from Shin-sen-gumi more. They actually can cook your noodles to the firmness you want and they are also thinner than this place, and I like my noodles thin. The broth at Shin-sen-gumi is just more deep and wholesome compared to this place. At the end of it all, still come here if you want a good bowl of ramen, because yes, it’s still good, just not Shin-sen-gumi good. At least this place is cheaper though, at only $7 to $8 for a bowl compared to Shin-sen-gumi’s average of $10.

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~ by thankgoditsfood on May 15, 2009.

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