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new ramen place in Santa Clara called Orenchi

winodano Jan 18, 2010 03:43 PM

I just heard about a new ramen place in Santa Clara,CA called Orenchi, owned & operated by the people that own Sumika in Los Altos, CA. They just opened this last weekend at 3540 Homestead Rd. and Lawrence Expressway, across the street from Kaiser Medical's Santa Clara campus. Has anyone been there yet?

  1. Melanie Wong Apr 20, 2010 09:01 PM

    Finally made it to Orenchi last week, pulling in around 9pm to the nearly deserted, poorly lit shopping mall on the corner of Homestead and Lawrence. Orenchi’s storefront was one of the few signs of life at this time of night. It’s not easy to find, as other buildings block the sight lines from the street. If I’d not been meeting my brother there, I probably would have spooked, bagging this meal to come back in daylight. There were about a dozen cars parked in front and quite a few customers inside even near closing time.

    Even though I was a bit let down at first glance of the gyoza-less menu, the two deep-fried appetizers we tried more than compensated.

    Small (3 pieces) karaage, $4 – Nice that the fried chicken can be ordered in two serving sizes. Boneless chunks of organic chicken from Petaluma had a lighter marinade than some other versions, the better to show off the natural flavor of the bird. Very light and crispy coating, and almost greaseless with nary of sheen of oil, each bit of the batter stayed crisp and didn’t get soggy on sitting. My brother’s the karaage expert, and Orenchi’s is about as good as it gets.

    Fried calamari legs (4 pieces), $6 – Big sized tentacles in a browner, bubblier batter, and again fried perfectly. The squid itself was easy to bite through with just a little chewiness. Delicious with a squeeze of lemon and a dab of the spicy mayo. The edible garnish – a grilled shishito pepper and half a cherry tomato – on each of the plates were appreciated too.

    Sumika’s fine hand in preparing these dishes is quite apparent.

    Orenchi tonkotsu ramen, $9 – Usually William and I order different stocks, but this time we both wanted to try the tonkotsu. I asked for my noodles “hard”, and they were just a notch firmer than his. Yet, while showing good bite, the noodles had an unpleasantly sticky, sort of gummy texture.

    I have to say that this was one of the homeliest bowls of ramen I’ve been served.
    Brown, beige, lacking color other than the submerged green negi and soggy nori. Often I’ve commented that the care in visual presentation often foretells the level of deliciousness. Luckily, that rule of thumb did not apply this time. Those unattractive dark brown blotches of roasted garlic oil added a lot of savory fragrance and flavor. The very thin slice of striated kurobuta pork was luxuriously fatty, nicely roasted, and melted in the mouth, I just wish there was more of it. The stock’s as delicious and meaty as others have said, medium-density, not as fatty or salty as most. In fact, I could have used a little more salt, truth be told.

    The bamboo shoots were unseasoned, seemingly unsalted as well with little flavor at all. The runny-yolked organic ni-timago (seasoned egg) was the best part of the bowl. The white part was firmer than Ramen Halu’s and the yolk more liquid-y. Prepared with a higher quality egg, the flavor of the yolk was much deeper and richer. The deep-orange hue was actually redder and darker than the color shown in this photo.

    Based on the tonkotsu ramen, Orenchi debuts at Number 4 on the personal ramen ranking list.

    1. Ramen Halu, 375 Saratoga Ave Ste M, San Jose
    2. Santouka @ Mitsuwa Hokkaido Festival, 675 Saratoga Ave, San Jose
    3. Himawari, 202 2nd Ave, San Mateo
    4. Orenchi Ramen, 3540 Homestead Rd, Santa Clara
    5. Maru Ichi, 368 Castro St, Mountain View
    6. Izakaya Mai, 212 2nd Avenue, San Mateo
    7. Ajisen Noodle, 47890 Warm Springs Blvd, Fremont
    8. Ryowa, 859 Villa St, Mountain View
    9. Tanto, 1063 E El Camino Real, Sunnyvale
    10. Santa, 1944 South El Camino Real, San Mateo (post-move)
    11. Do-Henkotsu House of Tokushima Ramen, 4330 Moorpark Ave, San Jose (closed)
    12. Sumiya, 2634 Homestead Rd, Santa Clara
    13.Gen Ramen, 47890 Warm Springs Blvd, Fremont (closed)
    14.Hana Japanese Restaurant, 101 Golf Course Dr, Rohnert Park
    15.Izakaya Restaurant, 1335 N 1st St, San Jose
    16.BY Grill, 3226 Geary Blvd, San Francisco (closed)
    17.Norikonoko, 2556 Telegraph Ave, Berkeley
    18.Hana, 4320 Moorpark, San Jose
    19.Ozumo, 2251 Broadway, Oakland
    20.Dohatsuten, 799 San Antonio Rd, Palo Alto
    21.Katanaya, 430 Geary Blvd., San Francisco
    22.Masa's Sushi, 400 San Antonio Road, Mountain View
    23.Gochi, 19980 Homestead Rd, Cupertino
    24.Oyaji, 3123 Clement St, San Francisco
    25.Halu Restaurant, 312 8th Ave, San Francisco
    26.Sanmi, 3226 Geary Blvd, San Francisco
    27.Maru Ichi, 530 Barber Lane, Milpitas
    28.Hatcho, 1271 Franklin Mall, Santa Clara
    29.Kahoo, 4330 Moorpark Ave, San Jose
    30.Tomoe, 810 3rd St, San Rafael (closed)
    31.Ringer Hut, 1072 Saratoga Ave, San Jose
    32.Noodle Theory, 3242 Scott St, San Francisco
    33.Watami Shabu Shabu and Ramen, 5344 Geary Blvd, San Francisco (closed)
    34.Where’s Buta by Elgin Espiritu and June Lee, Eat Real Festival, Oakland
    35.Kumako, 211 E. Jackson Street, San Jose
    36.Japanese Restaurant Hoshi, 246 Saratoga Avenue, Santa Clara
    37.Ramen Club, 723 California Dr, Burlingame
    38.Ryowa, 2068 University Ave, Berkeley (after ownership change)
    39.King Won Ton, 1936 Irving St, San Francisco
    40.Tazaki Sushi, 3420 Judah St, San Francisco
    41.Ramen Rama, 19774 Stevens Creek Blvd, Cupertino (closed)
    42.Ogi-San Ramen, 10789 Blaney Ave, Cupertino (closed)
    43.Kaimuki Grill, 104 S El Camino Real, San Mateo (closed)
    44.Tanto, 1306 Saratoga Ave, San Jose
    45.Okazu Ya SF (Noriega), 2445 Noriega St, San Francisco
    46.King's Garden Ramen, 39055 Cedar Blvd, Newark (closed)
    47.Sushi Bistro, 445 Balboa St, San Francisco
    48.Genki Ramen, 3944 Geary Blvd, San Francisco
    49.Mitsuwa Hokkaido festival booth, 675 Saratoga Ave, San Jose
    50.Lakuni, 325 E 4th Ave, San Mateo
    51.100% Healthy Desserts, 1155 Taraval St., San Francisco
    52.Mifune, 1737 Post St, San Francisco
    53.H2A Noodle, 42318 Fremont Blvd., Fremont (closed)
    54.Iroha, 1728 Buchanan St, San Francisco
    55.Miraku Noodles, 2131 N Broadway, Walnut Creek
    56.Manpuku, 2977 College Ave, Berkeley
    57.Tanpopo, 1740 Buchanan Street, San Francisco
    58.Sushi Yoshi, 39261 Cedar Blvd, Newark
    59.La Shang Niang Ramen (OEC), 42 Dixon Rd, Milpitas
    60.Oidon, 71 E. 4th Avenue, San Mateo
    61.Taraval Okazu Ya, 1735 Taraval St., San Francisco
    62.Suzu Noodle House, 1581 Webster Street, San Francisco
    63.Bushido Izakaya, 156 Castro St, Mountain View
    64.Fresh Taste, 2107 El Camino Real, Palo Alto
    65.Asuka Ramen, 883 Bush St, San Francisco
    66.Sapporo-ya, 1581 Webster St, San Francisco
    67.Tokyo Ramen, 678 Barber Lane, Milpitas (closed)
    68.Kamakura, 2549 Santa Clara Ave, Alameda
    69.Mama-san!, 312 8th Ave, San Francisco (closed)
    70.Katana-ya Ramen, 10546 San Pablo Ave, El Cerrito
    71.Hotei, 1290 9th Ave, San Francisco
    72.Bear's Ramen House, 2521 Durant, Berkeley

    Ramen Halu
    375 Saratoga Ave, San Jose, CA 95129

    Orenchi Ramen
    3540 Homestead Rd, Santa Clara, CA 95051

    5 Replies
    1. re: Melanie Wong
      Dave.Pitinga Apr 21, 2010 09:45 PM

      Melanie, your ramen ranking is the stuff of legends. And I don't necessarily disagree with your ranking for Orenchi.

      But the ramen noodles shown in your photos seem to lack the yellow color associated with kansui (http://blogs.oregonstate.edu/deliciou... ) that I observed in my earlier visits to Orenchi. When I noticed this on my last visit there, I asked the waitress whether they had changed noodles. She told me that she did not think there had been a change. Anyhew, I think Santouka is the only place in the South Bay where you can count on getting ramen noodles with kansui at the present time.

      1. re: Dave.Pitinga
        Melanie Wong Apr 21, 2010 10:11 PM

        Dave, thanks for bringing that up as I meant to comment on this. The noodles were indeed pale, lacking the darker tone or sometimes yellow hue associated with kansui. According to Halu's website, its noodles are made with egg and alkaline water (kansui).
        http://ramenhalu.com/about_halu_engli... (then click on "noddle" (sic)).

        1. re: Melanie Wong
          Dave.Pitinga Apr 21, 2010 10:24 PM

          Melanie, I used to frequent Ramen Halu, until Santouka and Orenchi came along. Halu added some new noodles last year, e.g., the "whole wheat" noodles described on this web page: http://ramenhalu.com/halu_menu_englis... . Those noodles lack the yellow color one would expect from kansui. As I recall, they are actually brown-flecked.

          1. re: Dave.Pitinga
            Melanie Wong Apr 21, 2010 10:42 PM

            Yes, I've had the whole wheat noodles from Halu. They are an option and non-whole wheat are available as well.

            Chinese noodles made with gansui (aka kansui) are sort of a darkish taupe color and not yellow. So, depending on the recipe, noodles can be made with alkaline water and not appear that yellow. Here's a photo I uploaded when someone asked me what kind of wonton wrappers to buy that shows New Hong Kong Noodle Co. gan sui wrappers.

            1. re: Melanie Wong
              Dave.Pitinga Apr 21, 2010 10:50 PM

              I defer to your expertise in this matter, Melanie. As a matter of strictly personal preference, the taupe noodles remind me of pasta both in terms of taste and visual appearance, which is not what I like in a ramen noodle. Santouka rules when it comes to noodles, IMHO.

    2. Tripeler Apr 14, 2010 07:30 PM

      Note that the style of ramen is TONKOTSU, which means "pork bones," how they get their broth. Note also that tonkAtsu is a deep-fried pork cutlet, and it has nothing to do with ramen. These two words are as frequently mixed up as are Asakusa and Akasaka, two wildly different but equally famous neighborhoods in Tokyo.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Tripeler
        ankimo Apr 14, 2010 09:17 PM

        sumika's oyakodon and orenchi ramen are two of my top faves in the bay area

      2. t
        teela brown Apr 14, 2010 10:52 AM

        I ate at Orenchi last night, and their tonkatsu ramen is still stellar. I'm posting to note that they are now open for lunch at 11:30 every day, I believe. I know they're closed for dinner on Mondays, and am unsure if that extends to lunch.

        This is great! I always think of ramen as more of a lunch item anyway.

        1. h
          Humbucker Jan 18, 2010 04:51 PM

          Oh man, this is seriously throwing a wrench in my plan to try all of the bay area's major ramen shops before I move away (Santa was the only one I hadn't been to).

          I found a Japanese blogger's entry on the place:


          Anyone care to translate? It looks like they have a shark cartilage don. No miso ramen (my favorite), unfortunately. Glad to see they have grated garlic at the table, though!

          6 Replies
          1. re: Humbucker
            hkoide Jan 18, 2010 09:29 PM

            Hi Humbucker,
            Thanks for introducing my blog page here. : )
            Orenchi (means "My house" in Japanese) opened last Friday. The owner of Orenchi Ramen is also running Yakitori Restaurant, Sumika in Los Altos. The main chef of Orenchi Ramen is Maru who is also a main chef of Sumika (I'm not sure if Maru works in both restaurants alternatively or not).

            This is Sumika's web site.

            Currently, Orenchi ramen serves three tastes of ramen , Shio (salt), Shoyu (soy sauce) and Tonkotsu(pork bone broth), a few appetizers(fried chiken, salad ..etc), a bowl of rice with toppings. They serve beer, soju and sake also. They don't have a lots of menus yet but I hope they will serve more foods sooner.
            Their food is very high level. Last Saturday, I went to Orenchi and had some appetizers and Tonkotsu Ramen. Everything is awesome. Especially, their ramen is very good. I think it's one of the best in the bay area (I have tasted almost all the ramen restaurants in the bay area from SF to SJ). Tonkotsu ramen had following topiings: Boiled egg (this is very soft and tasty), thin sliced Char siu(it melts in my mouth), bamboo shoot, kikurage(kind of mushroom), green onion...etc
            Usually, Ramen soup is very oily and salty. So, I don't drink it. But Orenchi's soup is not so oily and salty. I could make the ramen bowl empty.

            Orenchi opens dinner time only, between Tue and Sun (Monday is off).

            Orenchi Ramen
            3540 Homestead Rd.
            Santa Clara, CA 95051

            1. re: hkoide
              Humbucker Jan 18, 2010 10:16 PM

              Thanks for the review! It sounds like their tonkotsu is actually "lighter" than the versions at Halu, Santouka, etc.

              1. re: Humbucker
                hkoide Jan 19, 2010 07:22 AM

                Yes. Orenchi's tonkotsu is lighter than Santouka but not very lighter, slightly lighter.

              2. re: hkoide
                Dave.Pitinga Jan 26, 2010 09:50 PM

                We ate there tonight and I agree completey with hkoide's review. But keep in mind, I am a guy who always drinks my ramen broth. Salt? Oil? What's not to love. As hkoide pointed out, Orenchi's char siu is good, though not as good as Santouka's pork jowl, which is almost impossible to get after 1:30 PM these days due to some statistical observations that involve a daily limited quantity of pork jowl and that will continue for six months from the day the shop opened. I don't recall ever eating a more perfectly soft-boiled egg than the one they serve with the ramen at Orenchi's. And the noodles, which appear to be yellow from kansui (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ramen#No...), are almost as toothsome as the noodles at Santouka. We were also pleasantly surprised by the napa salad, which was sort of a steal at four bucks. The place was deservedly busy after nine. Thanks for the tip!

                1. re: Dave.Pitinga
                  mdg Jan 27, 2010 02:45 PM

                  Sounds promising! Adding a link...

                  Orenchi Ramen
                  3540 Homestead Rd, Santa Clara, CA 95051

                  1. re: mdg
                    caitlink Feb 18, 2010 07:49 PM

                    As someone from out of town, I went based on feedback here. And I am so glad I did.
                    The Tonkotsu ramen was excellent. The noodle was perfect. loved the soft boiled egg. And I drank every drop of soup. Feels so good knowing I can get great ramen without going all the way to our favourite place in Shinjuku.
                    I only wish i can eat this whenever I want in my hometown of Toronto. I will definitely eat Orenchi ramen every time I am back in town. Thanks for the tip.

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