ramen rating: shinsengumi hakata ramen – fountain valley, ca

shinsengumi ramen
shinsengumi ramen
shinsengumi ramen

Shin-Sen-Gumi is a restaurant chain in Southern California that features hakata style ramen in a tonkotsu broth. They also have a robata restaurant next door. Both places are always packed so be prepared for a wait.

Upon entering the tiny (seats maybe 20 people) restaurant, you’ll be greeted with a loud chorus of “irrashai-imase” (welcome!). Part of the attraction of Shin-Sen-Gumi is no doubt the hospitality and service. These people seem to love what they’re doing and it shows. Whenever I go to there, I actually feel like I’m stepping into a little ramen stand in Japan. Ah, memories. But I digress…on to the food…that’s what you came here for.

The first thing you’ll notice when you get the ordering slip is that there are choices! Lots and lots of ’em: you can pick your toppings, you can pick the hardness of your noodle…you can even pick how much oil goes into the soup and how strong the soup base is! After you order, the chefs go right to work, masterfully cooking the ramen and frying up the fried rice. Because the counter takes up most of the restaurant (there are 3 small tables off to the side), you’ll have a great view of the activities. Before long, you’ll have a luscious bowl of ramen in front of you.

The tonkotsu soup is rich, with a milky sheen and a full-bodied pork taste. It’s quite good, but for some reason it’s never hot, but just a bit warmer than lukewarm (at least all the times I’ve been there). The “basic” ramen comes with green onions and red ginger (why?) for toppings, but if that’s not enough for you, feel free to order more from the extensive list. The pork is thinly sliced, and a bit on the lean side, but flavorful. Since this is a hakata style ramen, the noodles are thin. Though I prefer thicker noodles, the people at Shin-Sen-Gumi do a masterful job of cooking the noodles to a perfect texture. Want more noodles? Order a kaedama and get another ball of noodles. Save your soup!

Want more than ramen? Their gyoza is cute cute teeny-tiny…and average. You could probably eat the whole serving in one big gulp. Their fried rice comes with chopped up greens and pork. It’s good, but could be more flavorful. And if you go there at night…(drool)…you can try their robata (skewers cooked over a charcoal wood grill). Their chicken thigh w/green onion and friend tofu are both highly recommended.

So after all this, Shin-Sen-Gumi’s ramen gets 7.5. But even if you’re not a ramen lover, give it a try for the experience. Or better yet, try their robata side for dinner for a fun and novel experience.

18315 Brookhurst St., #1
Fountain Valley, CA 92708
Phone: (714) 962-8971

Shin Sen Gumi Hakata Ramen on Urbanspoon

  8 comments for “ramen rating: shinsengumi hakata ramen – fountain valley, ca

  1. 8/13/2006 at 6:53 pm

    aweswome ramen site–i found you doing a search for ramen food blogs. i’m a writer at a magazine based out of singapore and i’m writing an article on instant ramen noodles. i’d like to interview you, if you don’t mind? please let me know–my email is included in this comment!

  2. UmeGumi
    8/17/2006 at 3:51 pm

    check out the Tan Tan ramen at this place. won’t be disappointed.

    1724 W Redondo Beach Blvd
    Gardena, CA

    closes at 9pm

  3. toratoshi
    12/4/2006 at 12:54 am

    Shinsengumi also has a restaurant in Rosecrans (?) near San Gabriel and Gardena/Torrace area down the street from Umemura (which used to have a location in West LA years ago, but also lacks zest. There is also a Shinsengumi yakitori restaurant next to nabe-styled restaurant, but I can’t recall the name due to a senior moment. Men-bei, located across the parking lot from Musha in Gardena used to have a location in West LA on Santa Monica Blvd. near U-zen with a great-tasting soup (albeit weak noodles) and a very light, but filling fried rice. The one in Gardena is not worth walking past. Ma-ma ramen is just that…mama (Japanese pun meaning so-so). However, Santoka Ramen, in Costa Mesa, will be coming to Santa Monica Mitsuwa soon, so ramen boys and girls, grab your coats and head out.

  4. Michael Cheung
    1/2/2008 at 5:39 pm

    Last time I ordered thick oil soup base and heavy flavor, but I didn’t feel very strong tonkotsu. Do they switch to miso if choosing heavy flavor, or what’s the best combination to get tonkotsu soup base?? (I’m a tonkotsu lover~) Or maybe I just shouldn’t go to San Gabriel store?

  5. 1/13/2008 at 5:20 pm

    Shinsengumi’s tonkotsu does seem to be a little on the light side compared to some of the other tonkotsu ramen I’ve tried. I haven’t been to the San Gabriel one yet, but the Fountain Valley one does a decent job if you order heavy flavor. My biggest problem with Shinsengumi is I never seem to be able to get a *hot* bowl of soup. If you want *heavy* flavor, you might want to come down to the OC and give Kohryu a try. Their tonkotsu is heavier and more oily than Shinsen.

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