It's finally cool enough for me to actually do a post on Yamadaya without breaking into a sweat! I first recall reading about Yamadaya in a post on Dennis's blog. Unfortunately, I was on Oahu when they first opened. I kind of dilly-dallied for a short while, but finally made my way there....even though it was a boiling hot day.
Man was the place hotter than heck......I figured that they had just opened their doors and perhaps the A/C wasn't dialed in yet.
I was seated at the counter, which I would have really enjoyed hadn't it felt like I was being simmered instead of the chashu. The folks working here are very amiable and really took time to explain what was up to the folks who really didn't know what was up.
What was up is that Yamadaya serves up Hakata style ramen...which means that the "in" style of tonkotsu, basically a pork bone broth is featured, along with the thin and straight Hakata style noodle. Living and working close by means that I can take my time and get a "feel" for a place. So I decided to start up with the basic straight up Tonkotsu Ramen. Somehow, I talked myself into bumping it up to a combo, which goes for $14.80. That's pretty hefty for a lunch....but what the heck.
First off, I loved the noodles......I had doubts when I didn't order them extra firm, but I should not have worried. These were perfect. They do soften rather quickly, but I really didn't give it time to soften. Much better then any other place that "claims" to do Hakata ramen in San Diego. The broth was surprisingly mild, with almost no nose, just lightly salty. The egg was done well, but the chashu was terrible, lacking in flavor, dry, and my goodness, still cold! Not good eats, but I put that off to the place still finding their footing.
I also got some chicken karaage, which was pretty good, crisp, a hint of ginger, and not bad.
What I really enjoyed was the curry rice bowl. The curry had a very nice distinct flavor, with hints that seemed like Wocestershire.
The texture was nice and smooth....this is something I'll have again.
A few days later I was in the area and decided to stop in again....man, it was still pretty hot in there. This time, I went with what I had my eyes on the first time, the Kotteri Ramen($8.45). If there was any bowl of tonkotsu that would benefit from a touch of extra fat and more flavor it would be this one.
Along with confirming that the A/C in the shop was not up to the task, there were a couple of other reaffirmations; the noodles were indeed prepared well and the chashu was still dry and lacking in flavor.
The broth really benefited from the black garlic oil, which gave it a sweet-pungent lift in flavor. In fact the whole deal was getting to the upper limit of my sodium tolerance but was still good. The extra richness really gave the broth that smooth, tongue-coating richness I enjoy as well.
Nice bowl, minus the chashu......
So of course I wanted to move along a bit more....which was great since "MrZ" was thinking about grabbing some lunch. The day was a bit cooler, but it still is pretty warm in the shop. This time, to see if the kakuni was the cure to the chashu, I ordered the Kakuni Ramen ($10.95). I had thoughts of asking for it kotteri, but decided to see how the buta kakuni fared in the ramen.
Let me just say this; the kakuni is the way to go. While not as great, it was tender and well flavored...oh, and moist. I also believe that some of the braising liquid for the pork was put into the bowl as I sensed a nice background sweetness to the broth this time around.
As usual it was great seeing MrZ...and here's a shout out to the newest addition to the 'Z' family...well, I'll just call him "little Z" for now!
So, there you go, three bowls, and I've got my ramen here dialed in. As simple as Kotteri with Kakuni. We're done, right? Well, not quite....there's one more item I wanted to try. Not feeling like dealing with the heat and man it was scorcher for a couple of weeks there, wasn't it? I went during a weeknight evening. Having been here enough, I started noticing a couple of things. One of them was, it seems like only the dudes who handle the noodles have "Ramen" written on the back of their t-shirts.....I know, I'm probably just a little bit slow, duh......
Since it had been pretty hot and the shop gets pretty hot, why not try the Tsukemen, basically "dipping noodles". I got the 7 ounce noodle portion ($7.95 - carb lovers can get 14 oz for $9.95).
This was way to salty, to the point of being unpleasant. Loved the noodles, meh to the chashu, but even dipping the noodles into the shiro was not a happy time. It also got cold real quickly and the amount of fat in this started concealing and feeling kind of greasy. Again, way too salty. There were bits and pieces of pork in the bottom of the bowl, so I'm not quite sure how they make this....black garlic oil as well.
I recall talking to Dennis about this a couple of days later.....I'm sure he'll chip in his opinion in one of his posts. YY and her husband send me a text message last week telling me they were having ramen here. Before I could warn them off the tsukemen, MrQ had gone ahead and ordered it. I heard he wasn't very happy.....oh, and they told me the place was super hot! So well, we know they're really consistent, right?
4706 Clairement Mesa Blvd
San Diego, CA 92117
You can read Dennis's post here.
Kirbie's post can be found here.
Gastrobits post can be found here.