>I have been meaning to check out the yakitori place that I’ve b een hearing great stuff about, Shinsengumi. Alas, they were closed! But, next door the same owners operate a no frills ramen joint that Shin (and now myself) believe to have the BEST ramen in Orange County. This place is called Hakata Ramen. I wish I knew more Japanese to be able to guess at what “hakata” means. When you walk in you are greeted with a booming “EEEERASHIIIIMASEHHHHHH!!!” from one of the chefs. At the time there were not servers b/c the bandana clad chefs played double duty as it was a small place. What you get is a very tiny restaurant with the usual complementary manga, news, magazine bookshelf by the window and an open kitchen where the seating is mainly counter-side. There are only TWO tables, so be prepared to wait. We were there at 3pm and still waited for 45 minutes to get a counter seat! But, with all that being said, the food was worth the wait.
The menu is offered in both Japanese and in English. you order by writing what you want on the paper they provide for you. This paper also allows for personalization–weak, regular, strong–X (soup). They had other choices but I can’t remember what they were.
Dave and I shared Ramen (uhmm.. wish I knew what kind..sorry…he ordered while I was in the restroom) and Hiyashi Chuka . I remembered to take pictures of Dave’s food, but when my stuff got there, I was totally absorbed in my food and remembered at the very end. The Ramen was FANTASTIC. I think I would have chosen the soup to be “strong,” (Dave picked “regular”) but it is by far their house specialty. I regret to inform you, however, that the Hiyashi Chuka wasn’t all that grand… the flavor was off. I can’t peg my finger on it exactly but the vinegar-ish taste wasn’t quite right…
But for $6 bucks you can’t beat what you do get–the best Ramen in town served with your choice of chowhan (sp?) or sushi (ca rolls) or gyoza etc. as well as a bowl of miso soup. My tummy was very very happy that day.