Monday, January 14, 2013

ROC: Ramen Zetton - Tokyo-Style Ramen Available Here in OC

If you've ever been to Japan, especially as a food trip, it's inevitable that one has to have Ramen, far different from the instant stuff. When he or she has it in a restaurant in Japan for the first time, not only are they amazed by how fresh the ingredients are but by how sometimes heavy the soup is. That heavy, "Kotteri" (rich) soup catches you off guard by how intense ramen is with the addition of how thicker the egg noodles are making it much more delicious. When Ramen Zetton opened next to Ikko (Review Here) in Costa Mesa, I was really excited to try it out as the photos on Yelp looked like the style of ramen I had in Tokyo. Boy was I glad that it did pay off.

Ramen in Japan is sorta like how we view Pizza here in the US but on a much more refined level. In addition to how ramen originated elsewhere as it was first made in China like pizza's originally from Italy, you might ask what do I mean about that as there are different regions here in the US that serve different styles of pizza like in Chicago they have the deep-dish pizza and in Hawaii, there's pineapple and ham used as toppings. In Japan, different types of ramen are developed and refined within their own regions. In Fukuoka (Hakata) on the southwest island of Kyushu, they specialized in Tonkotsu (Pork Bone) Ramen. On the other hand and in the opposite direction, Miso Ramen is very popular on the northeast island of Hokkaido.

Here at Ramen Zetton after looking at many reviews and photos from Yelp, I first chose the Heavy Soy Sauce (Kotteri Shoyu) Ramen with a soft boiled egg as my topping. From the looks of it, they specialize in Kotteri Ramen as the quality of their ramens are more upscale than the average ramen. I was certainly amazed by how authentic the bowl of Ramen looked as it was exactly like the ones I had in Tokyo especially with how the Tokyo region specializes in Shoyu ramen. They do have light versions of their soup as I assume (I would double check with the restaurant especially if you can't eat pork) it's determined mainly by what meat they use such as chicken for the light soups and the addition of more red meats such as beef and pork for the heavy soups. However, I'm glad to have stuck with my choice. The noodles themselves, although not as curly as some of the other places, were very delicious and provide a nice chew to the ramen experience. After divulging in the noodles, I took a sip of the broth and boy is that rich soup intense. It was loaded with umami flavor. Some might say that the broth may be too rich but that's how the "kotteri" soup is supposed to be. The soup is so rich and intense one might think it would be a crime to enjoy and slurp such a thing in public. But I wouldn't care; just drink that soup to your heart's content. In addition, the chashu with near equal fatty and lean portions along with the addition of the soft-boiled egg ($1 extra but so worth it and crucial to add) served as great complements to the ramen. The following two pics are Kotteri Shoyu ramen but ordered on different dates. The second pic also shows the complementary spicy beansprouts in the back as they're actually really spicy.

For my later visits, if I don't opt for a rice bowl combination ($3.5 for a small bowl plus a free salad and one ramen topping) or Gyoza, I would order a large Kotteri Shoyu ramen. They do have other styles such as Salt (Shio) that's made primarily with chicken. Although I prefer Shoyu over Shio for the soup of the ramen, it's still very delicious especially for those that prefer shio ramen. The following pic is a large bowl of Kotteri Shio Ramen as noted by the Umeboshi (salted Plum) and the lighter-hued soup.


As this place recently opened up, not that many people are aware of this shop's existence. I mention this because I prefer the ramen of Ramen Zetton to that of Santouka's inside the Mitsuwa Food Court in Costa Mesa as they're known too for having very authentic ramen but with them having long lines. I can totally imagine that if some of those that frequent Santouka were to hear of this place, they would totally dig Ramen Zetton and perhaps totally switch due to not only of its authenticity and their amazing rich soup but by how better the noodles at Zetton are. Don't get me wrong, I still like Santouka especially their ikura-don (Seasoned salmon roe on top of rice). However if Ramen Zetton were to ever offer ikura-don, it would be hard to imagine me going back to Santouka.

Ramen Zetton on Urbanspoon