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Santouka-- Review (What is up with that pork?)

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Yesterday, I was playing parking tetris (seriously) at the Mitsuwa parking lot off of Bristol in Costa Mesa. I had not eaten lunch and remembered the posts regarding Santouka at this particular location. So I decided to hit up Santouka for some of that Shio Ramen. While waiting in line, I noticed a small sign with a sad emoticon denoting that the Shio Ramen had sold out. I was disappointed that I would not be able to try this type of ramen. I went for broke and decided to try a different type of broth, and to listen to what they recommend. I got to the counter and agreed with counterperson that I wanted to try the spicy miso ramen with the chashu. Dude!! This was crazy!! After a 10 minute wait in which I was able to score a table during the holiday madness, I got a plate of glistening chashu with some scallion and a bowl of ramen with spicy miso. I slowly mixed the contents together and all I can say was that this was one of the best ramen that I have ever had. The pork stood on its own......... Perfectly roasted (I think?). I wish I knew how to cook pork in this fashion. Mixed with the salty spicy mix of the broth made me want to guzzle this soup down. Luckily I refrained, and vowed to come back for some of that shio ramen........

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  1. i like santouka quite a bit, but as you search the boards you will find that it can be inconsistent at times, but I still think its the best ramen i've had in LA / OC although there are people like rameniac and exilekiss that have done far more "research" on the subject (I also live in NY and just happen to come home alot, so my time is limited)...exilekiss's blog on Foo Foo Tei seems very promising for shio ramen

    get their pork special ramen (it has a slightly different name and its more expensive), but they use the best slices of pork for that and i almost always get it b/c he pork is by far the best...delicious. I like their normal one, but they tend to put the pieces of pork in the soup, which cooks them more which i dont like and even when i tell them to put it on the side not in the soup, I find the pork isn't quite as good as the pork special

    1 Reply
    1. re: Lau

      Nice! The toroniku shio is by far the best, but like Lau said, it can be inconsistent. Foo-Foo Tei's shio is different (no pork), but amazing nonetheless.

    2. Schweinhaxen- I've overdosed on shio and have found that the shoyu ramen at Santoka Costa Mesa is also very good. It's shoyu mixed with some sort of tonkotsu broth and arrives with a healthy layer of oil.

      If you like the chasu at Costa Mesa, you have to try the toroniku shio at the Torrence Mitsuwa. I recently went back and confirmed that the special pork there is way better than the special pork at Costa Mesa. It is at least several grades silker and more tender. I do think that the noodles at Costa Mesa are a touch chewier which I prefer.

      8 Replies
      1. re: Porthos

        One of my favorite spots and always love talking about the magic of Santouka. I've only been to the one on Venice/Centinela/have you checked that one out?...is there really a consistent difference at the locations? You know, one big mac, another big mac?

        I know all the great flavors but I gotta get the number nine special salt ramen with the plate of the pork. Is there anyone here that eats the pork separately without putting it in the soup at all? I can definitely see this is better, finer/more tender pork than even the non-specials at this location which are stringier (still good, but also a little more earthy stewed pork flavor). Whatever that special pork is made out of is on another level.

        Nice posts -- tetris goes well with ramen

        1. re: jessejames

          i typically dip it in the soup and eat it with some noodles, i find that actually putting it in the soup cooks it too much

          1. re: Lau

            Good call, I'll give that a whirl. But you mix in the bamboo mushrooms and scallions or just use as garnish in same way?

            1. re: jessejames

              i dump all of the bamboo, scallions etc into the bowl, but keep the pork on the side and then dip it in the soup to warm it up with some noodles and soup...delicious

          2. re: jessejames

            Hi jessejames,

            From my visits so far, there's definitely a difference between locations; it makes sense, though, considering the kitchen staff isn't the same in each location. I've found the Torrance location to be better than Costa Mesa, but I've been disappointed with both locations' consistency, lots of ups-and-downs. Rameniac and Keizo prefer the West L.A. location nowadays, so I have to remember to try the newest location and hope they're more consistent. :)

            1. re: exilekiss

              I've noticed sometimes it's a little better or a little saltier or whatever some days compared to others (at venice spot) but could be just the batch too. I've never said shoot, this wasn't good tho and always finished the last drop. ill have to check out the others too/thanks for answering question. another question, what's that red powder to spinkle on? cayenne? ive tried it but it's not too spicy. i could enjoy the number nine a little hotter but still one of best lunches period.

              1. re: jessejames

                The red pepper powder is togarashi.

            2. re: jessejames

              I believe Rameniac said that the special pork is cheek meat. Makes sense when you eat cabeza in Mexican cuisine-- very fatty and tender.