Friday, October 12, 2012

Ramen Yamadaya, Costa Mesa - Quick Visit

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.

Well 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.

The 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.

The 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.

The 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.

The 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


Junichi said...

Finally made it out to the SD Yamadaya last week when the weather got cold. Tried the shoyu tonkotsu and my brother had the tsukemen. The ramen was solid. The only complaint was that the soup wasn't piping hot and some of the noodles were clumped together. All the topping were good and the soup delicious. Definitely a contender against Santouka. The tsukemen was descent. Very one-dimensional but passable. I had the mabo bowl and karaage as sides. Both were pretty good as well. Will be back again for sure once the weather cools down again.

Dennis K. said...

Hey Junichi, glad you finally made it to Yamadaya SD. I can eat ramen on hot days no problem though, haha. ;) And I always sit at the counter, it doesn't bother me. Yeah I can guess what's causing the noodles to be like that, I've seem them throw a ball of noodles straight from the bag without unraveling them first (!) and/or the water can be too starchy and needs to be replaced. Who knows, but I've had them done well and others clumpy how you describe. Your brother's tsukemen doesn't sound too far from what I had. Anyway maybe I'll run into you guys there someday!