After a media/blogger outing this past weekend circulating through five eateries at South Coast Plaza, the last thing I'd imagine myself doing immediately afterwards is eating some more. But after all those Occidental meals and tastings in a span of 18 hours, every bone in my body was *screaming* for something Asian afterwards. Thankfully, with a little blog searching (and thanks to the extensive databases of GoRamen and Rameniac) I found that the fairly reputable Kohryu Ramen was less than 10 minutes away from South Coast Plaza; half-full belly and daily caloric intake be damned, it's noodle slurpin' time!
While I was suppose to meet up with some other compadres from the South Coast Plaza media dine-around, ultimately only e*star joined me on this excursion. We waited outside in the triangular Japanesy plaza on the corner of Baker & Bear for about 15 minutes, then decided to go in on our own.
A casual ramen joint with a semi-open kitchen that looks like it could seat about 25 people max (maybe 30 with some creative, tetris-style table and chair rearranging), it felt comforting, cozy and very neighborhoody-locals kind of place, and I'm definitely optimistic seeing it fairly packed with other mostly-Japanese patrons on a late weekend lunch.
Being a fairly warm afternoon and wanting a final grasp at summer, I tried ordering the pinned-to-wall special hiyashi chuka (cold noodle salad) only to be sadly informed that it's a dinner-only special. So, Esther and I decided to go for their regularly-offered items--taking notes of what other ramen bloggers have liked.
The noodles here are firm, toothsome and springy and the clear broth is clean-tasting but washes over my tastebuds with a wave of umami flavor, and totally worth going over my sodium limit and risking hypertension for.
I also had a taste of e*star's Shacho ramen (with ground pork, bean sprouts and a heartier, meatier soup) with miso base (also $8), also very enjoyable with a more-opaque, fuller-bodied, earthier soup that had a very notable raw soybean taste, which is a rare and pleasing encounter for me and misos (though I'll disclose most of my previous miso encounters are from nondescript, generic Japanese eateries that serve the soup practically as an afterthought and are almost always too bland or too salty and never flavorful enough.)
Half-hour of slurping later, E*star and I left beyond full and beyond happy; for someone who's not a particularly big fan of Santouka and always finding Daikokuya's long lines borderline bearable, I'm definitely glad to discover this noodlehouse viable for future visits when I'm ramen-ravenous in the O.C.
And of course, much thanks to GoRamen's Keizo, Rameniac's Rickmond, Ramen^3's Ed, and OCWeekly's Gustavo for their reports which prompted me to check this place out. And of course, E*star for the company!
891 Baker St. (x-street: Bear)
Costa Mesa, CA