ramen quick review: santouka toromi shoyu – costa mesa, ca

santouka toromi shoyu ramenMitsuwa Japanese supermarket was having an “anniversary festival” so the wife and I went to check it out, not realizing that Santouka ramen (located in the Mitsuwa food court) was also having a special.

On 2/26 to 3/1, and also next week 3/5 Thurs to 3/8 Sun, the Santoukas in Mitsuwa Torrance, Costa Mesa, San Diego, Santa Monica, and even Chicago, is offering a special Toromi Shoyu ramen (“Gravy Soy Sauce” ramen). It’s limited to 20 bowls a day so you should get there early! The Santouka in Costa Mesa is open at 11am, and there was already a short line when we arrived about 10 till.

santouka toromi shoyu ramen

The ramen comes with bits of caramelized onions, a sprinkling of sesame seeds, menma, green onions, minced meat, a piece of roasted seaweed, and one slice of their regular chashu. Oh, and the rectangular, interesting-looking piece of something or other in the picture? It’s grilled tofu skin.

santouka toromi shoyu ramen

There’s a thick layer of gravy mixed in with the soup that makes it stand out, and it also makes it hot! I’ve complained about some ramenya with lukewarm soup…not this time. The gravy holds in the heat exceptionally well and made me blurt out “hot! hot! hot! i-th think i-th burnt-th my tongue-th!” This would be wonderful soup if it was snowing or raining outside. On a warm California day like today, it just made me hot. The gravy has a rich, savory flavor that reminds me of the kind of oyster sauce glaze that comes with Hong Kong pan-fried noodles.

The gravy coats everything, especially the noodles, and, together with the minced meat, gives the ramen a really rich flavor. I also enjoyed how the gravy coating gives everything a shiny, silky sheen. (Sorry, I realize this is not a shampoo commercial.) The caramelized onions added more to the aroma than the taste but played a welcome role and the green onions added both a nice texture and crispy freshness to the flavor. The grilled tofu skin was a surprising topping and decent tasting, balancing the gravy with a more neutral flavor. The single piece of chashu was the achilles heel. The chashu is half lean, half fat. The lean side is too lean and dry, while the fat side doesn’t really add any flavor.

santouka toromi shoyu ramen

The slightly curly egg noodles were chewy, decent, and added to the “am I eating this at a Japanese ramenya or a Chinese restaurant” feel. Frankly, this dish would do well at either place. This is a good bowl of noodles and worth a try if you’re looking for something different and you’re willing to risk missing the 20-bowl limit. On the other hand, (and I rarely mention price, but…) Santouka’s far superior tokusen toroniku ramen costs only a bit more and gives you far more bang for your buck.

The Santouka Toromi Shoyu ramen gets 7 out of 10

Santouka Ramen
(inside Mitsuwa Supermarket)
665 Paularino Ave
Costa Mesa, CA 92626
(714) 434-1101
Cash only

Santouka Ramen on Urbanspoon

  11 comments for “ramen quick review: santouka toromi shoyu – costa mesa, ca

  1. 3/1/2009 at 5:25 pm

    Wow, thanks for the info edjusted! I had no idea. Been a total homebody this weekend….. 🙂

  2. 3/1/2009 at 8:47 pm

    @Dennis: you should check it out. I’d be interested to read what you think!

  3. 3/2/2009 at 7:36 am

    Thanks for the text yesterday. I almost drove all the way down there but changed my mind after you said it was limited to 20 bowls. That looks pretty good. I’m always a sucker for gravy-like ramen. So were the noodles the same as always? I guess you know where I’ll be on Thursday!

  4. cutie
    3/2/2009 at 9:35 am

    great pictures!! that limited edition bowl of ramen looks so pretty & shiny in the picture…..you sure are well connectioned on special ramen events & info…..thanx for the information……….. 😀

  5. 3/2/2009 at 9:34 pm

    @Keizo: I’m glad you didn’t waste a trip. Can’t wait to read your take on it!

    @cutie: thanks. Actually, this time I just stumbled on to this special ramen event. hahaha

  6. 3/9/2009 at 11:34 am

    hah! i snoozed on this one ed! actually i’ve been taking a break from ramen for a bit. hope santouka brings this back! how you been?

  7. 3/11/2009 at 7:36 pm

    @rameniac: a break from ramen? a break from ramen?!? hahaha. j/k. sorry you missed it. i think you would’ve enjoyed it.

  8. Sandra
    8/21/2009 at 9:17 am

    I like your review. I personally love ramen.

    You should be a food expert.

    I actually know that the bizymoms costa-mesa community feature experts in their community. http://www.bizymoms.com/ costa-mesa/index.php

    There is a form on their expert page, http://www.bizymoms.com/experts/index.html

  9. mien kui te
    2/2/2010 at 1:53 pm

    your pictures look great. i love Mituswa ramen.
    But if your ever in the city of chicago you must try Japonais tonkotsu ramen for lunch. Its a unique twist on tradition.

  10. 2/2/2010 at 10:08 pm

    @mien kui te: Thanks! I love ramen recommendations from other cities. I’ll check it out the next time I’m in Chicago!

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