18315 Brookhurst St.
Located across the street from my favorite izaka-ya, Kappo Honda, Shinsengumi comes close to that japanese compact-hustle-and-bustle-busy-ramen-house feel and is best known for their “Hakata Ramen”, a tonkotsu (pork bone) flavored ramen originating from Japan’s southernmost island, Kyushu. If you go for lunch, go early. They tend to get crowded right before noon so going at 11:30am might be the best time. Service is quick and you can probably get in and out within half an hour.
Hakata Ramen (Tonkotsu)
: I’ve never exposed my taste buds to a really bad tonkotsu ramen and luckily I can still make that claim. Unfortunately, I can’t say it was the best but overall it was still very good. The menu here is simple. They have several combinations to choose from and when you are ready you just write it all down on a piece of paper and hand it off to the waitress–I chose the A-set (Hakata ramen and gyoza). For the ramen, you get to choose the texture of your noodles (hard, normal, soft), the oil used for the soup (less, normal, more), and the density of the soup base (less, normal, more). I chose normal for all the questions just to get an idea of what normal actually was. I suppose you can’t necessarily complain too much about the soup or noodle texture since you have the option of changing it to your liking. I for one felt that normal tasted great and most likely won’t change a thing the next time I go there. The soup is definitely what makes this ramen. It is very flavorful and surprisingly light for tonkotsu. The chashu was also better than most places and along with the ginger and green onion, they all complemented the ramen deliciously. If you’ve never been to Shinsengumi and you’re in town, I recommend that you stop by for a refreshing noodle soup. They also have locations in Rosemead and Gardena.
Gyoza: The gyoza that accompanied the A-set were smaller than normal but don’t be fooled. These mini-gyoza had some major taste. You get six of them to go with your ramen and they are a must-get if you ask me. Unless of course you are on a date and plan on getting close at the end of the night. In that case you may want to stay away because the garlic breath that results will fend off vampires for several hours, which is usually the effect of a great gyoza.
Chahan: The chahan was just mediocre. A distinct seaweed flavor surrounded this half-sphere and it probably could have used more salt.