Saturday, November 12, 2005

High Decibel Ramen--Hakata Ramen Shin-Sen-Gumi, Gardena

A few months ago I wrote about how I was having issues with an old boyfriend. Well we've made up and have had a pretty good relationship ever since. But I never said this was a monogamous relationship, so once again I went out trolling for good ramen elsewhere.

This time, my trolling (and
Food Cabbie duty!) took me to Hakata Ramen Shin-Sen-Gumi in Gardena, one of the several branches of the well known Shin-Sen-Gumi restaurant group scattered throughout Gardena, Fountain Valley and Rosemead. Shin-Sen-Gumi, in case you didn't know, is named after a 19th century Japanese samurai group who served the country and its people during a period of internal conflict in Japan; the restaurant group's motto, therefore, strives to live up to their name's reputation which is probably why Hakata Ramen's customers are greeted with this when they walk in:



Best Japanese noodle I've ever tasted huh? That's a bit of a confident statement. Well, we'll see.

Enter Hakata Ramen and you'll see that these folks are serious and very, very, confident. "IRASHAIMASE!!!!" they screamed as we entered the restaurant. They are loud, and I mean LOUD. Had I been a little more out of it, I would have flinched and then fallen all over the place like
Kramer on Seinfeld. But luckily, I was able to stand strong on my feet.

We were seated at a communal table in the front with other parties of two already slurping away at their ramen. Small stacks of order sheets and a few No.2 pencils sat in front of us. "I'm assuming we have to write our orders down?" I asked my friend. We flipped through the laminated color menu for a couple minutes and proceeded to jot down our order in the grid provided on the order sheet.


I feel like I'm at the Service Merchandise store

What kind of Ramen or Set?
"A" set (Hakata ramen with a side of gyoza). My friend got the "C" set (ramen with a bowl of the restaurant's takana fried rice.)

Toppings?
(How am I supposed to fit all this into the little box?) Cha-siu, boiled egg, spinach, bamboo shoot, bean sprout.

Firmness of noodle?
Hard

Amount of soup oil?
Normal

Strength of soup base?
Normal

A server was along shortly to drop off some iced green tea and collect our sheets. *Phew!* It appeared that we had done this correctly with the exception of the fact that the restaurant does not serve spinach, bamboo shoot or bean sprouts as toppings at lunch, so we had to cross those out. Damn, you mean I could have written bigger?

Our Hakata Ramen arrived quickly...two big bowls of thin ramen submerged in beautiful, milky tonkotsu broth and adorned by bright pinkish red pickled ginger, finely chopped green onions, slices of fat-striped cha siu and a halved soy sauce soaked boiled egg. You probably already know that I'm a little partial to tonkotsu-style ramen where the luscious, milky broth is made by boiling pork bones for hours on end, so needless to say, I was very, very happy. OK, maybe not as happy as I get when I experience utter ramen euphoria at Daikokuya--I like Daikokuya's soup and thicker noodles more--but Hakata's tonkotsu ramen did manage to float my boat. The thin noodles were firm and snappy, its broth milky and oily with delicious pork flavor. I do wish that the cha-siu was a little more tender--it was a bit on the gristly side-- and that I could have added bamboo shoot to make the flavors a little stronger, but no matter. I still enjoyed my ramen.


Nothing's more beautiful than murky, milky tonkotsu broth

The other halves of our lunch sets took a little longer to arrive, but we were kept on our toes while waiting as every few minutes, the booming sound of "IRASHAIMASE!!!" being screamed to entering customers would suddenly wake us up. Finally a plate of six of the tiniest gyoza you've ever seen and a bowl of their takana fried rice arrived at our table. Small, but full of pork, onion and pepper flavor, those itty bitty gyoza made for a nice ending to our big bowls of ramen. I was even more impressed with the takana fried rice, flavored with egg, little bits of pork and takana, a pickled salted mustard cabbage. Noticing a leftover pool of broth in my ramen bowl, one of the loud Irashimase-yellers asked me if I wanted to add more noodles for $0.95. I was stuffed so I politely refused.


Warning: Gyoza not to scale!


Hearty takana fried rice


Add ALL the toppings and you'll be broke!

Depending on how you look at it, Hakata Ramen's not a cheap date. Daikokuya's ramen is a bargain at $7.50 considering it already includes cha-siu, bamboo shoot, bean sprout and boiled egg. Hakata Ramen's bowl is $6.95 and doesn't include any of those toppings. Cha-siu is added on for $2.00, bamboo shoot for $1.00, bean sprout for $0.50, and boiled egg for $1.00, making a bowl of Hakata ramen cost over 11 bucks. Don't get me wrong, I liked Hakata Ramen alot, but there's a reason I keep running back to Daikokuya!

Hakata Ramen Shin-Sen-Gumi
2051 W. Redondo Beach Blvd. #C
Gardena, CA 90247
(310) 329-1335
www.shinsengumiusa.com

13 comments:

MEalCentric said...

WHOA! Thats not a cheap bowl of ramen. But you're a good friend, helping your friend maximize her six weeks. My homies always want to eat at sh$tty places like "Daphne's Greek" and "quiznos"(I need new friends). BTW...the Kramer line nearly knocked me out of my chair.

eatdrinknbmerry said...

You should order ALL the items and just take a photo of it. it'd be classic to see the irashaimase-people's reaction. i can already see it, everyone in the restaurant pausing like a dj spinning into a trainwreck, upon reading your order.

i've eaten at the rosemead/FV one and will be posting on Shin Sen Gumi very soon. Nice posting.

elmomonster said...

Ditto on the price and their loudness over at FV. It's a bit jarring. But over all it's a decent bowl of ramen.

Loved that Kramer line too!

Kirk said...

Hi Pam - I was actually going here one eve while I stayed overnight in Torrance, but the place was soooo packed, and there was a line!!! For an $11.00 ramen? I still want to try it; better be the best I've ever had.

Daily Gluttony said...

Mealcentric,

I KNOW, huh? Actually each bowl was only $9.95 for us since we ended up adding only cha siu and egg, but STILL!!! At least it was good. (but still not as good as Daikokuya's!)

Dylan,

I'd probably get yelled at really loud and then I'd regret it! LOL!

Elmo,

Yeah, what's up with the loudness? Those people got lungs!!

Kirk,

(See comment to Mealcentric) Of course you can always get it plain w/o toppings for $6.95 but what fun is that??? Oh well, it's worth a try at least once! But if you're in LA anyways, Daikokuya's a much better value--might as well just go to J-town! =)

BoLA said...

Wow! I didn't realize how freakin expen$ive a bowl of noodles would be. Used to like Hakata Ramen in Gardena. Do they still have the all-you-can-eat-ramen special where they take your picture after so many bowls? Hmm...was a few years back so I'm not sure if they've got that. My favorite by far still is Ramenya on Olympic. ;)

eatdrinknbmerry said...

i heard the one in fountain valley did that. after like 5-6 rounds of noodles, the meal is free and you become an instant celebrity. i can hardly finish one order of $.95 extra noodles.

Daily Gluttony said...

Kristy,

Haven't been to Ramenya yet; I'll have to add that to the list of places to go!

Dylan,

Wow, after 5-6 rounds??? With the more expensive than usual prices here, that'd better be free!

Anonymous said...

The standard bowl does come with chasiu, it's in the add-on section for those that want extra.

Anonymous said...

I usually go to Hakata once a week. I haven't found a better ramen place in Hawaii, Northern Cal, Southern Cal or Canada (yes - Canada has some incredible Asian food.. esp. Dim Sum in Toronto's Chinatown).

Maximum extra portions of noodles I've eaten has been 3 (not including the original portion).

Anonymous said...

No. Shinsengumi kicks Daikokuya's ass by far. Get a corn topping next time or some wontons.

I've seen Daikokuya's workers partying it up at Shinsengumi and enjoying their ramen.

Anonymous said...

For the record, it comes with cha-siu always, the $2.00 is for an extra portion of cha-siu, which I never get because the noodles are the best ever and you don't really need anything to go with them!

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