I found myself needing to run multiple day errands to both Fountain Valley and Irvine during the last couple months so I've had some quick lunches at Costa Mesa (like my Wa-fu Curry Rice at Mugimaru), the area conveniently nestled between.
This half-hour I thought would be perfect to finally try the Yamadaya Premium chicken and dried fish based Shio/Shoyu offerings which unfortunately didn't make San Diego's menu cut. For those first hearing the shop's name, Yamadaya
is an L.A. born rapidly expanding chain that specializes in (a
decidedly richer) Kyushu-style Tonkotsu ramen. While the popular creamy
pork bone soup is hard for me to pass up on some days, I've always been
more a fan of the clear brothy styles, and especially ones that are
flavored boldly with some gyokai marine cajones.
past 1PM and the shop was still pretty busy but I quickly got seated by the counter (with only moderate lighting).
I was debating whether
to go Shoyu (soy sauce) or Shio (salt) flavored but finally went for the dark
amber Shoyu. A quick sip of the soup and I have to admit being
pleasantly surprised at the amount of Bonito flavor. I really missed
this. The last anywhere near was my bowl at Harukiya (seven years ago, and at the RaHaku), or Menya Musashi in Shinjuku (also pre-blogging days). There was the Niboshi Ramen at Ramen California (during the original ownership) but that was a more smokey flavor due to the blend of different niboshi used. Here the possible use of some refinement all aside, I have to say I really enjoyed it.
toppings of single pork Chashu, menma bamboo shoots and flavored soft
boiled hanjyuku ajitama egg were standard Yamadaya fare except for the
spinach and also the negi-abura - oil flavored with Japanese
leeks/green onions that I noticed. The sheet nori seaweed is always a welcome for me in
ramen giving it that extra subtle pleasant sea note.
noodles were straight hosomen (thinner) but not the wispy white unleavened
Hakata noodles used in their tonkotsu. Texture wise they were
borderlining cooked too soft for my
liking (especially near the end of the meal) but overall matched well
with. What didn't help was the time spent waiting for a forgotten
renge spoon, but I still plan to ask for it katame (firm) next time to be on the safe side.
full order of Japanese gyozas ($4.30) were fried decently but
the fillings were way over seasoned sodium wise and didn't need the
dipping sauce whatsoever. At least I know other Yamadaya branches have
their own quirks to iron out maybe. I should mention here that I don't care for the premade gyoza sauce either as I like to concoct my own ratio with shoyu, rice vinegar and hot oil.
I wouldn't know when I'd find
myself in the area again but the Premium Shio would
definitely be next to try. Judging by their Shoyu had the day the Shio would be
about where I'd wish RakiRaki's "Premium" was. But beggars can't be choosers and I'll take what I can get in town.
bowl has plenty of room for polishing (better clarity of flavors in the soup, better executed toppings and noodles, etc.) but
honestly for the price if someone told me I could have one regularly delivered to my
doorstep, I'd be first to sign up for a twelve-month subscription. Until then I eagerly await for it to come to our SD branch.
Ramen Yamadaya, 1175 Baker Street, Costa Mesa, CA 92626