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Monday, 30 November 2009



Hi Kirk, nice coverage! It's been a while since I've been to Gunco but I thought their ramen improved with the new owners. I had their miso a few times.
Anyhow, reading your blog for some time now and it's interesting how you seem sensitive to sodium but not Scoville. I don't know how you can do all those chili peppers!!! ;)


I was up in Costa Mesa a while back for a meeting (at the Hilton across the street from Mitsuwa) and stopped by the Santouka there. It does seem to be a hair better than the one we have in San Diego (the broth and noodle texture were more to my liking), but the most interesting thing I noticed was the lack of soup spoons! They just had the disposable plastic spoons, which kinda irked me.


Santouka looked the most appetizing out of all the photos.


Awesome Thanksgiving! But your photos and the NOODLES especially make me very homesick. This ramen post and going the XLB posts really are tough. On the other hand, I now know how to make pho and learning how to make the pork bone broth is next on the "to be learned" list.

Question, can I buy decent packaged ramen noodle? I've got an "in" with a Vietnamese shop owner and she stocks plenty of noodle. But she isn't big on other Asian foods, only Vietnamese. With an entire aisle devoted to nothing but noodle and dried tofu skin, I need advice!

ed (from Yuma)

Thanks for the posts. I am missing San Diego big time. The noodle soup choices out here are pretty limited.


Hi Dennis - I enjoy salty, but too salty is not good eats. I'm also quite sensitive to "heat", it's just not in the way you're describing....I love nuanced heat.

Hi Hao - My favorite Santouka is the Torrance location, with CM next....but yes, they do the plastic spoon thing there...I believe it has something to do with volume. Man, that place is crazy busy, and I'm sure that plastic spoons are cheaper than losing several regular Japanese soup spoons a day.

Hi Kat - And it was......

Hi Jo - Funny, most VN markets in SoCal stock some instant noodles, mainly because it's affordable eats. I'm sure you can order by case.....which can be pretty cheap online.

Hi Ed - We'll hopefully be seeing you guys soon.


Great post, Kirk. It's been a while since I've had ramen. Of all the places I've been to, Santouka is my favorite. Haven't been to Gunco. Guess what I'm craving for now? ;)


hi kirk
i've always wanted to eat at gunco ramen...i pass it by whenever i go to seafood city. near palomar. i believe it's near el dorado. (ha ha - right across from the KD's NUTS sign----should say DoNuts!).

do you remember hiro shoten? they used to be near hogetsu and utage...


That last bowl of broth looks so silky and rich of porkiness I would slurp the soup too myself not to mention the slices of pork with the right amount of marble in it, ok FAT. LOL. I think I need to make some ramen soon.

Vicky (SF Bay Area)

omg... we finally got a santouka up here in the mitsuwa shopping center too! i haven't had a chance to go yet. looks amazing!!!


I've tried all those places as well and came to the same conclusion. Santouka is the best ramen in San Diego. I even tried the tonkotsu ramen at Masa and was rather disappointed.

I heard that the owner of Yakitori Yakyudori is opening a ramen/yakitori joint on Convoy in January. Hopefully it turns out well. Until then it's Santouka for me. Or I drive up to Torrance for some Asa Ramen (kotteri-shoyu) or Ramen California. Both are spectacular.

kirk, you have to try the ramen @ Izakaya Masa in Mission Hills! They dont serve the Tokyo style like the places you mentioned. They server Hakata style Ramen!!!

I used to eat @ Santouka exclusively, I agree w/you 100%. but ever since I tried the Ramen @ Masa, I was instantly hooked. They only serve it after 9pm, but its well worth the wait!


I'm not really a fan of the Mitsuwa marketplace one - they were nice enough, but like you said: expensive for what you get (which was tasty!), especially considering the cramped environment and busyness of a weekend if that's the only time you can make it. I'll take a bowl of Mountain Vegetable ramen (can't remember the Japanese) from Chopstix over EVERYTHING else on a day when I need comfort eating. If you've not tried it, it's worth a spin.


Hi Carol - Hmmm...ramen perhaps? ;o)

Hi CC - You know, I actually have a photo of that sign on one of my posts.

Hi Billy - That pork does look pretty good, doesn't it?

Hi Vicky - I hope you had a fabulous Thanksgiving.

Hi Kamisama - Predictably, I was a big fan of Daikokuya, but all other locations except Little Tokyo have fallen short. And I've heard that the Little Tokyo branch has gone downhill a bit.

Hi Sammusubi - I don't think Santouka is Tokyo style ramen....I believe to is Asahikawa (Hokkaido) style. Izakaya Masa is serving Hakata Ramen, huh? I'll have to check that out....I'm hoping they use Hakata style noodles...that'll be a deal breaker. Thanks for the tip!

Hi Natalie - LOL! Have you ever tried getting into Chopstix during the evening??? If I'm looking at quality, I'd have to take Santouka over Chopstix.......especially with the inconsistent stuff I've eaten there over the years.


hi kirk - i know! that's why i mentioned it! that sign cracks me up! it's been like that FOREVER! ha ha.


Hi Kirk, I know what you mean about the nuanced heat. Just being one dimensionally hot isn't very enjoyable. Anyway I refrained from saying originally cause didn't want to leave too long of a comment but Sakura had started a tonkotsu style not too long ago. It seems they're still trying to figure things out though. My first bowl was personally too light for me and the second was extremely kotteri (believe it or not). I personally prefer something in between but I only wonder what my third bowl is going to be like. ;)


"Instant" noodle? There isn't a "real" ramen noodle? One that isn't burdened with the base packet and freeze dried "stuff"? Our shop does indeed have all kinds of bowls and packets where you just add hot water. I was thinking of getting just the straight up noodle.


Hi CC - The owners of the shop must have a sense of humor..... or perhaps no money.

Hi Dennis - Isn't that what you ordered on Thanksgiving?

Hi Jo - I even have a hard time finding good ramen noodles. Good luck! Once in a while, I'll find one of those brands in the deli case that has good noodles, and use those, without the instant soup base. When I have found them, they have been in the frozen section. When I've made....or shall I say attempted to make ramen shiro, I bought my noodles from a restaurants here who makes their own fresh noodles.


Hi Kirk, that was my second bowl that was almost as thick as creamed soup (though I had even thicker). The packaged noodles didn't hold up to the dense broth but they seem to still be experimenting with it. The chijire wavy noodles aren't typical for tonkotsu as well but I can tell they're not trying too hard to be authentic to a particular style. In fact they named it "Sakuramen"(!) Haha.


Kirk - :D sometimes! It's not always bad, but I haven't collected enough data to back up any statement I make. And fine, if you're gonna pick QUALITY, then I can't win. I'll give the Mitsuwa one another try ;)

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