>> Sunday, May 13, 2012
Price: $4-6 per appetizer, $8-11 per bowl of ramen
Location: 1175 Baker St., Costa Mesa, CA 92626
The Quick Bit
+ great rich tonkotsu flavor broth
+ quick friendly service
+ good selection of ramen toppings
Δ broth was a little thick when cooled
Δ noodles where a bit too thin
While it has only been a month since my last ramen post, I was again impressed enough by another ramen-ya that I felt the need to report it. Even more exciting is the great ramen can be found about half the distance to LA and it is service all day every day.
Within all the different types of ramen, I have to admit that I am partial to a really good tonkotsu ramen. I love the richness and depth of flavor in tonkotsu ramen moreso than the other types of ramen. At Yamadaya, the pork for the tonkotsu ramen is boiled for at least 20 hours prior to service. The result is an extremely thick and rich tonkotsu broth.
Yamadaya also continues the trend I noticed at Tsujita where the noodles for the tonkotsu were of the thin variety. On the website, it is mentioned that the noodles are thinner so that they absorb more of the pork flavor. While I'm somewhat skeptical of this are still partial to thicker alkaline noodles, I can see where the thin noodles to work.
I started the meal with some agedashi tofu. While the dish is very simple, I feel that a great agedashi tofu speaks volumes about the quality of a Japanese restaurant. The dashi in the tofu was really rich and flavorful, which suggested a good thing to come. Unfortunately, the tofu was a bit firmer than I expected. Additionally, the deep fried coating of the tofu seemed a bit soggy. Overall, the dish was still above average.
The last great takoyaki I had was in Japan. While this particular takoyaki didn't compare to the ones from Japan, this was the best one I've had in the United States. These takoyaki were made fresh and the middle had that signature hot boiling temperature expected from a takoyaki. The octopus filling was both generous and cooked properly.
|yamadaya ramen - tonkotsu kotteri|
For the ramen, I ordered the Yamadaya ramen, which includes a mix of toppings. From there, there is the option of having the ramen as just tonkotsu, shoyu, spicy, or kotteri. I opted for the kotteri, which is an extra scoop of all the pork fat/drippings/leftover on the bottom of the pot after the tonkotsu broth is cooked. The result was an extra infusion of pork flavor in the broth.
The soup was thick, creamy, and flavorful. While the soup was not as good as Tsujita's, it is close enough to suggest the drive to Little Osaka may be unnecessary. The pork toppings and the egg were well prepared as well. Overall, the ramen was a very impressive bowl of ramen - had I not just visited Tsujita, I would be calling this the best ramen stateside.
Although the ramen at Yamadaya isn't as good as Tsujita, it is pretty close. With a closer driver, easier schedule to work around and cheaper prices, it is an extremely attractive second option when you don't have to absolutely have the best. The takoyaki is also a reasonable substitute for what you would expect when ordering that dish.
For the great tonkotsu flavored ramen at affordable prices, Ramen Yamadaya is awarded a bit award.