Orochon Ramen: Does it have the Spice to topple Shin-sen-gumi?

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123 S. Onizuka St.

Los Angeles, CA 90012

(213) 617 – 1766

http://www.orochonramen.com

So the million dollar question everyone is wondering, is Orochon Ramen the new Roger Federer of Ramen? The short and simple answer is, not by a long shot. I heard about Orochon Ramen on the Travel Channel when they did a special about Orochon’s special #2 challenge, which is basically their miso ramen spiked with 7 tablespoons of their select mixture of powdered peppers. A lot of people have tried it, and few have been able to finish it. We also decided to come here since we were in the neighborhood and we had just came from the Chalk Festival that was going on in Pasadena. The 400+ reviews on Yelp! also indicated we should give this place a try…and boy were we disappointed from all the hype.

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There are 7 heat levels to Orochon Ramen, with 1 being the Extreme and 7 being non spicy. Above #1 is special #1 and special #2, however, I figured I’d save my stomach lining for another day. Julie and a few other friends ordered the #3 miso ramen, while I was the only brave one of the group and decided to get the #1. We all also ordered cha siu for our ramen as well.

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Where should I start? First, the noodles here aren’t the greatest in the world. Again, this is all about personal preference, but I definitely like thinner, firmer noodles. Orochon’s noodles are thick and soft. If you like it that way, then more power to you, but again, Julie and I tend to like the thinner variety. The thinner version definitely gives the ramen more depth and complexity in texture in our humble opinion.

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The first thing wrong with this place is the cha siu that you can order with your ramen. I thought I was getting several slices, I got 1. Yeah people, 1 slice of cha siu. Granted it was a big slice, but hardly worth the extra money you had to pay. I mean $1.50 for 1 slice of pork?! Geez, talk about nickel and diming you for everything. Shin-sen-gumi automatically already gives you pork with your ramen, so that’s already a point down for Orochon.

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The second thing wrong with this place is the 7 tons of bean sprouts that they put in your bowl of ramen. Last I remembered, the name of this place is Orochon RAMEN. HALF of my bowl was bean sprouts. Not a welcoming addition. Bean sprouts are suppose to supplment the ramen, not take up half the bowl. Are you that cheap to give us more ramen? This was the second sign that this place really tries to cut down on cost by doing little things like this and hoping the average person wouldn’t notice.

Let’s get to the nitty gritty and most important part of ramen, which is the soup base. How is Orochon’s soup base…I can only reply…what soup base? -_-

The problem with Orochon is that if you get the #1 miso, which is the most spicy you can get outside of the specials, you can’t taste the soup broth, all you can really taste is just the powdered pepper seasonings. Oh yea, how spicy is the number #1? Pretty damn spicy. If you swallow it the wrong way, you’re going to choke, and it happened to me three times…and I’m definitely someone who can take spicy food, so gauge that how you want if you decide to come here and wonder what number to order. I was actually expecting something even more spicy, but for the average person, this is definitely going to make you croak a few times and drink a few cups of water.

For the sake of tasting the broth and giving it a fair chance since my bowl was just red full of pepper powder, I did try some of the broth from Julie’s #3 miso ramen, and honestly, I still think it lacks any depth to be considered better than any other place we’ve eaten at (minus Shin-sen-gumi). The broth is average to below average, and if you are far away, definitely not worth a trip. It just tasted salty.

I think this place is famous because it’s in little Tokyo and have been made famous by its special #2 challenge and the locals. The truth of it all is that Orochon is a below average joint to get ramen, and now it makes sense to me why Adam Richmond on the travel channel didn’t say much about how the ramen tasted, rather just how spicy it was. He never mentioned it was excellent or the best ramen he ever tasted, and now I know why. My friends and I all left with the the consensus that better ramen could be had elsewhere, Orochon is definitely all about the spice and the hype, don’t waste a trip if you were planning on going.

HERE ARE THE RANKINGS FOR RAMEN THUS FAR!!!

1. Shin-sen-gumi

2. Santouka Ramen

3. Orochon

4. Daikokuya

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~ by thankgoditsfood on July 6, 2009.

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