Orange county residents: if you haven’t gone to the Costa Mesa Mitsuwa Ramen Festival yet, you have one more day to go, unless you want to go to Torrance or San Diego. Fellow ramen blogger Keizo has already covered all three locations, but was nice enough to join me today (thanks for the ramen souvenirs!).
First of all, you need to know that Asameshi Maeda Honten has taken over Sanuki Udon’s location during this four day event. There are no English signs, so just look for the line of people in front of the banner shown above. Can’t find the menu? Don’t worry, they serve exactly one item: the ramen. One size only. No side dishes. One authentic specialty. That’s all you need.
According to the sign, the brainchild behind Asameshi Maeda Honten is also the chef responsible for the ever-popular Santouka ramen just 20 yards away. Unlike Santouka’s signature shio ramen, this Hokkaido ramen is based on a tonkotsu-shoyu broth with egg noodles.
The egg noodles are chewy and starchy, sticky with a hint of sweetness. They readily absorb the broth, and the oil from the soup clings to the noodles as if holding on for dear life. Unfortunately, I was put off enough by the borderline gritty/sticky texture of the noodles to consider them the Achilles heel of the ramen.
A quick warning to the health-conscious before I continue: the broth is oily and fatty in the most glorious way. There’s a very visible layer of liquid fat floating on the surface of the ramen. The broth is rich, rich, rich, and is full of pork goodness. Hokkaido is famous for their seafood, and this broth also has a strong fish component that blends in perfect harmony with the tonkotsu and shoyu flavors. Upon drinking the soup and murmuring “mmm, fishy” in mid-slurp, I could see the heads of my lunch companions nodding in agreement. The thinly sliced pork is just fatty enough to slowly melt into the soup and is tasty enough without threatening to overwhelm you with the whole “porkyness” of the ramen. As for the toppings, the shinachiku were crunchy, the onions good, and the hard-boiled egg heartbreakingly ordinary.
This is a great way to get a taste of authentic Hokkaido Asahikawa ramen without getting on an airplane. Asameshi Maeda Honten gets a 7.5.
Asameshi Maeda Honten
at Mitsuwa Marketplace
665 Paularino Ave
Costa Mesa, CA 92626