By VICKI LI
Shin-Sen-Gumi is a new Japanese ramen restaurant at Woodbury Town Center. It specializes in Hakata ramen, which has a rich, milky, pork-bone tonkotsu broth and rather thin, non-curly noodles. It also offers a variety of udon and Japanese side dishes such as tempura and takoyaki.
Shin-Sen-Gumi opened in late September. This is its first store in Orange County and the thirteenth store in Southern California.
I put my name on the waitlist and was offered a table shortly. Upon entering, all workers greeted me with loud, orderly chant in Japanese. There was a large variety of seating, from counter stools to square tables.
A waiter gave me a menu and a slip of paper to place my order. On the paper, there were several categories to customize my order, such as firmness of noodle, amount of soup oil and strength of soup base. I picked regular for all three categories. Options were also given on whether I wanted green onion, ginger or chashu, thin-sliced roasted pork, in my noodle.
My food arrived in ten minutes, a reasonable time with a full restaurant at lunch hour. The noodle had a pleasant appearance, with the green onion and red ginger centering the bowl. It came with three pieces of chashu and a sufficient amount of soup base. The soup was a bit salty for me but it went well with the chashu, which was tender and flavorless. The firmness of the noodle was just right and it was thinner compared to other ramen places I’ve visited.
The noodle itself did not keep me full, but add-ons of noodle and chashu were available for extra charge. There were more than ten other add-ons to choose from, such as flavored egg, kimchi and cheese.
The inside of the restaurant was clean and every seat had convenient access to sauces and seasonings, such as sesame and soy sauce. The open counter enabled diners to watch the process of making their noodles and the waiters were friendly in helping me place my order.
It takes about 15 minutes to drive from UHS to Woodbury Town Center, but the taste and price are definitely worth the travel.
“I like this place better than the one [Yushoken] at UTC because it gives you more options on customizing your order,” Darrius Estigoy (Sr.) said after visiting.
The restaurant is on the pricier side, with my total meal coming down to $10, but the variety of food and the pleasant dining experience made up for the price.
Open Monday-Friday 11:00 am – 3:00 pm, 6:00 pm – 11:00 pm
Saturday -Sunday 11:00 AM – 11:00 PM
6404 Irvine Blvd
Irvine, CA 92620