hironori ramen – irvine, ca

Irvine has a new fancy food hall, and it has a new ramen shop! HiroNori, a “Craft Ramen” shop, is the brainchild of partners Hiromichi and Tadanori (get it?), two Japanese natives who’re apparently making everything from scratch, including their noodles. Intrigued? So am I!

First, the TRADE Food Hall plaza, where HiroNori Rame is located, has a small parking lot that fills up fast at lunch time. Maybe there’s an overflow lot somewhere, but you might be better off going at a slighly off hour.

They serve only 3 ramen varieties: a tonoktsu, a shoyu, and a vegan ramen. I’m always a sucker for a good shoyu ramen, so that’s the one I ordered, plus a side order of egg and a pork rice bowl.

While waiting for my food, I noticed the owners working the front of the restaurant, helping the servers and asking the customers how their ramen was. It’s a good sign that they care so much. I couldn’t wait for my ramen.

The Tokyo shoyu ramen came out piping hot, and my first taste of the soup was delicious! HiroNori’s shoyu soup is both complex and delicate and lives up to its Tokyo roots. You can taste both the pork and chicken flavors in the soup. Many of the shoyu ramen I’ve had in OC have been very one-dimensional and on the slightly sweet or slightly salty side, but HiroNori’s was juuust right.

The noodles are a bit on the thick side, and very chewy and slurpable. Really, it paired and soaked up the soup perfectly. The egg was good, and the chashu–YES! The chashu especially pork-y. What’s that, you say? Duh? Well yeah, chashu is pork. Duh. But HiroNori’s chashu is so lightly marinated and charred that its full pork flavor comes shining through. Absolutely delicious and one of the best chashu in OC! And it has a perfect mixture of lean-to-fatty goodness that makes it about as tender as chashu can get. Yum!

I only have a minor quibble about the menma (a bit too sweet for my taste). And maybe it’s because they’re going through Grand Opening chaos, but according to the menu, the shoyu ramen is supposed to come with kaiware sprouts (radish sprouts) and seaweed. I didn’t see it in my ramen, but…shrug.

The pork rice bowl was also tasty and–hey! There’s some yuzu pepper seasoning in there! And a poached egg? That’s different. I loved it all.

Watch out for one thing, though. I’m not sure why they do this, but they automatically add a 15% service charge to your bill. Pay attention that you tip only the amount you want to tip.

I now have a new favorite ramen shop for my shoyu ramen craving. Thank you, HiroNori!

HiroNori Ramen
2222 Michelson Dr
Irvine, CA 92612

Hours:
Mon to Thurs:8am to 9pm
Fri to Sun: 8am to 10pm