Originally from Yokohama Japan, the owner of Kairakutei has brought his father’s famous ramen recipe to the states in hopes of rekindling that same popularity with ramen lovers of Orange County. And it may be working because year after year I’ve never heard anything bad about this place. It’s located in an odd triangle shopping center surrounded by Mcfadden, Walnut, and Newport Avenues. It may be hard to find so be on the look out for the ramen sign.
Shoyu-ramen: After weeks of trying ramen bordering on blandness, this ramen is light years away. For some people, it may even be too strong. I, for one, found it exciting to meet a ramen with this much flavor. Another indication of the soup being strong was the darkness of the noodle absorbing the shoyu–marination at its best. If you tend not to like a strong soup make sure you tell the waitress when ordering. The chef will be more than happy to lighten it up! The noodle texture was perfect and the traditional toppings (egg, chashu, seaweed, and scallions) were quite the match. Even the uniqueness of being served in a bowl traditionally reserved for udon was amusing. My only complaint would be the lack of menma (bamboo shoots). How can a ramen be without menma?!! Well, I guess I’m willing to overlook it since the ramen was so good. Maybe I’ll just bring my own menma next time!
Gyoza: Claimed to be “home-made” (in which I don’t disagree), it’s still far from coming close to moms! But if you have room in your stomach, do not hesitate to order them. One could argue that they are made too big (bigger than the norm), but I think the size gives the big taste justice. After all we are in America!
Chahan: When I first saw this chahan I got flashbacks of all the “okosama lunches” I’d eaten as a kid. It looked so much like a childish plate of chahan that I hesitated to eat it. But after that first bite I couldn’t stop. The chahan may have been the best part of my visit to Kairakutei. It’s very rare that you find a chahan this good to accompany your ramen. And the good news is that it comes as part of a set. I highly recommend it!