Hello there! Well I typically avoid visiting restaurants at opening week, usually at all costs. But maybe it was that I missed any all of the Mitsuwa fairs last weekend and I needed something to make up for it. Also the second day young Ramen Yamadaya in sunny San Diego happens to be close to work, oh darn - winky smile. [Update: Check out a more thorough first month visits post here.]
But anway, as I mentioned in my update post this is L.A. Ramen Yamadaya's sixth and newest expansion. Will have more photos next time but I really liked how the place was done up. Open and airy and even a cool patio to the side that I was surprised to see. Would be perfect when their booze license goes through. (Judging by how long these typically take, could be a while though.)
There's a glass partition between the dining area and kitchen. But the real physical divide is a wall of billowing steam from several rapidly boiling cauldrons. You can literally feel the difference in air pressure if you sit by the front counter as I have. Columns of hot water vapor venting upward, noodles snap strained downward. I've really missed that. Welcome to a ramen-ya.
I went with the "heavy" Kotteri version and tried the Yamadaya Ramen upgrade ($9.95) where for the extra ~two-bucks you get a piece of Kakuni pork belly along with the regular slices of pork Chashu. Also an extra half of flavored soft boiled egg and the large Nori seaweed increased to three sheets (yum). Other toppings are the Menma marinated bamboo shoots, some Kikurage wood ear mushrooms, and in this case the Kumamoto influenced appetite stimulating Maayu black flavored oil of slow charred garlic (mentioned on my Costa Mesa Ramen Jinya post).
The bowl came piping hot and the pork bone soup that boasts 20hrs of preparation, thick, creamy and rich, pretty comparable to the bowl I had previously at Jinya in fact. Quite a different beast to what I originally sampled during my first visit in Torrance, so it seems the ramen here has been evolving in the last two years. Seeing kakuni in a Kyushu Tonkotsu I reminisce my everything zenbu iri bowl at Jangara in Akihabara. This was on the leaner side but flavored well and decently tender. Pretty good. The pork Chashu slices are the rolled-then-string-tied style which was refreshing to see in SD. You get better fat to protein distribution per slice the way but also I feel a more concentrated porky flavor. Hanjyuku soft boiled egg was also delicious with a nice light sweet soy sauce marinade. Yolkalicious!
I asked for the noodles Katame firm. Thin, white and wiry in Hakata fashion. This extra al dente is the most popularly eaten way for the style but admit it may not be for everyone, especially here in the States. Either way make sure you slurp them feverishly because Hakata noodles can loose their resiliency relatively quickly. If I were on a budget, the large noodle portion or extra Kaedama refill of noodles would be a guaranteed fill for only a buck or so more. The latter, ordered fresh recommended since I wouldn't want these noodles steeping in my bowl for that long. This day I went for a combo meal though and had a 4-pc. Japanese Gyoza and Curry Bowl for an extra $4.80. (SD Ramen Yamadaya menu here btw.)
This partial order I imagine were pilfered from a set. I expect my next full order to be more crispy, but the flavor was very serviceable and still would giv any Japanese Gyozas you'd find off Convoy a good run for their money. Still my favorite in So. Cal. remains at Ramen Mottainai.
Japanese Curry was pretty tasty as well and reminds me how I can easily
see myself order a non-ramen item here in the future, at least until
they start serving the clear broth Premium Shio and Shoyu. That is I can
only have a bowl of rich Tonkotsu so often but I can already see
myself being a regular. Welcome to San Diego Yamadaya. :)
Ramen Yamadaya (San Diego), 4706 Clairement Mesa Blvd, San Diego, CA 92117