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Jun 13, 2012 02:18 PM

Japanese ramen chain

Has anyone on this board ever heard (or know) of this chain?

Or is it like that Ajisen chain?

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  1. Never really heard of it before, but here's the home company's website (in Japanese):

    The shop listing reflects the recent Union City, California opening, but not the forthcoming San Francisco branch – although it will probably be added once the store formally opens for business:

    1. Yes that's a lesser-known Japanese chain (at least lesser known in Kanto). Never ate there.

      5 Replies
      1. re: kamiosaki

        Tokushima style senmonten. I love this type of ramen. Tonkotsu shoyu broth with heavily marinated rib meat and usually a raw egg on top....Yeah, no branches in Kanto but one in California. That's interesting.

        1. re: Silverjay

          I've been to the Union City location of Tokushima Men Oh. It is a good location in terms of targeting the local primarily Chinese demographic (it shares a complex with lots of Chinese restaurants, a Chinese supermarket, a Cantonese seafood restaurant, and a Chinese run kaitenzushi joint). It's quite decent especially this style of ramen compared to what's out in the market, but I found the pork to be a bit lacking in flavor (more stir frying and seasoning would have helped). There is a wicked self help table condiment that looks like a chili paste, but is actually miso ground pork with some sweetened chili spice (mild) that's quite addictive, as well as kim chi bean sprouts (sadly a very weak watery batch on my visit). The raw egg might be unsettling texture for many, so they are sourcing a local egg vendor that sells pasteurized shell eggs.

          The problem with this ramen is that it has to be eaten very quickly (hence slurping the noodles quickly and in quantity at a time, is an absolute must....something that hasn't quite dawned on many of the local ramen eating trendsters over here) or else if let to sit too long, the noodles clump together with the kotteri broth, and the temperature nosedives to room within 10 mins. The other good thing about this store is that they are only offering one broth (they plan on offering a shio broth version, in case some end up finding the broth too heavy).

          I do not know who is responsible for importing that chain over, but it is very good they are doing this (even if it may not be everyone's cup of tea). There are just way too many Asian Americans (and Chinese expats) who care nothing for ramen unless it is thick pork bone based (just like the Hong Konger hipsters who turn away a good bowl of shio, shoyu, or miso).

          There used to be a Tokushima ramen restaurant in San Jose California 10 years ago called Do-Henkotsu...their broth was not viscous like Men Oh's but it was very very good, and no raw egg. Spare ribs ramen, and stir fried crazy good thick cut pork belly slices (instead of chashu), along with some chuka-ryori style dishes on the menu for those who didn't want noodles, but the owners moved back to Japan. I actually like that mom and pop shop Do Henkotsu way better than Men Oh, even if MO visually looked more authentic and true to form (based on looking up "Tokushima Ramen" in hiragana on youtube to actually see what that style looks like).

          And yeah to answer the OP's question, way better than Ajisen.

          1. re: K K

            Ahhhh, Do-Henkotsu! That does bring back memories. Mr. Graceface is not a self-conscious chowhound, but he introduced to me to this as his regular ramen-ya back in college. We were very sad to see it go.

            1. re: K K

              Thank you for the report. I look forward to trying them out when they open their SF shop.

              1. re: K K

                Oh... My question was more about MO's origins, than quality... But thanks for the info... :)

                Been to Tokyo a few times and never heard of this chain, so was curious...

                I tend to only go to Orenchi, Ramen Halu, Santouka or Ramen Dojo in the San Francisco Bay Area when I need to quell that ramen urge... :)

          2. Talking about Ajisen, I keep hearing rumors that it is a Chinese company that is disguising itself as a Japanese company (supposedly started in 1967 in Kumamoto) for more credibility. Does anyone know if there is any truth to this?

            9 Replies
            1. re: od_sf

              I thought that that was pretty much common knowledge among people. I've also read about a ton of scandalous incidents including Ajisen restaurants having signs up claiming no affiliation to Japan during Anti Japanese riots. There's also the fake broth scandal that went down last year. Also the fact that they're a publicly traded company called Ajisen (China) Holdings Ltd.

              1. re: od_sf

                Ajisen is all over Hong Kong as well, and its managing director at that geographic location is Ricky Cheng (the guy who overpaid on those record breaking crazy bluefin tuna auctions) where he purposely uses Oma tuna to promote his crappy sushi restaurant chains "Itamae Sushi" (most of them from what I understand are kaitenzushi), as well as his over inflated ego for photo and TV ops.

                1. re: K K

                  Thanks for confirming that Ajisen is indeed Chinese. No, it is not common knowledge, because they obviously work hard at pretending to be a Japanese-based company. Just have a look at their profile on Wiki:

                  1. re: od_sf

                    I believe Ajisen is Japanese in origin, at least that's what the wiki (in Chinese and English) states. The office in China (and Hong Kong) are in some ways a lot more ambitious in terms of expansion. I went to the San Mateo California location of Ajisen during its first few weeks of opening and the manager in the store at the time (could be from CA HQ) was a Japanese, but the waitstaff predominantly local Chinese, it shares the same ownership as Fremont.

                    The one in downtown San Francisco Westfield mall is associated with a bunch of chains in Southern California that are aimed towards the Chinese demographic (you can immediately tell by geographic locations, mostly Taiwanese expat centric areas). The one in SM and Fremont do not offer tapioca milk tea type drinks, whereas the SF one does. Hence most people being duped by this.

                    1. re: K K

                      Wikipedia is an unreliable source of information though. Just ask Sinbad.

                      1. re: Notorious P.I.G.

                        Well yes it's well known that Wiki is not always reliable. What is not so well know is whether or not Ajisan is a Chinese or Japanese company. Even here, with experts such as K K and Notorious P.I. G., I am getting conflicting information. :-)

                          1. re: K K

                            That looks pretty legit. Says the company started in 1968 in Kumamoto, There are 101 shops in Japan versus 728 abroad. Probably franchises, all of them, since it says the company only has 90 employees.

                            1. re: K K

                              I think that when it comes to wikipedia the bottom line for me is that if it's inadmissable in court and isn't permitted to use as reference in academic papers it ultimately can't be trusted. I'm a skeptic though.

                              Who knows the whole story really, they seem to be shrouded in secrecy in a lot of ways.