Friday, June 1, 2007


This was my first time trying the ramen at Santouka. I have heard many things about Santouka, almost all of it great. Santouka is the gold standard, the ramen by which all others are compared. Seeming to have engaged in a partnership with Mitsuwa, Santouka is located in their foodcourt.

The menu is fairly limited, a sure sign of a restaurant that knows how do things great instead of restaurants that have an exhaustive menu turning out mediocre food.

Santouka is known for their shiyo (salt) ramen. The shio ramen ($6.49) has a slightly white murky appearance at first glance, but underneath is a rich, golden brown broth with tons of flavor. Even thought the name implies salt, the broth is really not all that salty. An initial blast of salt strikes the palate but then the rich pork broth makes an appearance. Although the broth has a floating layer of fat on top, it does not have an oily mouth feel. The thick, toothy noodles help to cut through the richness of the broth. The noodles definitely add some texture and another dimension of flavor to the mix. Two slices of pork with a nice layer of fat come with the soup. The pork has a rich, deep flavor with the fat just melting in your mouth. The ramen also comes adorned with umeboshi (pickled plum), kamaboko (fish cake), green onions, bamboo shoots and wood eared mushrooms.

The miso ramen ($6.49) is similar to the shio ramen except miso takes the place of the salt in the broth. At first glance, this tastes like miso soup. As the broth reaches the back of the tongue, the deep, rich pork flavor arrives on the scene. The same toppings come with the miso ramen.

If you are looking for top quality ramen, Santouka is definitely at the top of the class.

Mitsuwa Marketplace
665 Paularino Ave.
Costa Mesa, CA 92626
(714) 434-1101

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