Located behind Wahoo’s on the corner of Baker and Bristol, Mentatsu is slightly hidden and often overlooked by shoppers heading to the neighboring japanese market, Mitsuwa. It seems like every time I come here this restaurant has a new name. In my opinion, it has the highest ownership turnover of all the ramen-ya’s in Orange County, but I could be wrong. Perhaps it’s the location–the small parking lot and hostess bar next door–or maybe it’s just the food. As I walked in, I noticed that the interior had been nicely remodeled as opposed to the hole-in-the-wall that it used to look like. Could this be a good sign or just the attractive lure that holds our stomachs hostage?
Shoyu-ramen: Similar to the interior design of the restaurant, the shoyu-ramen looked better than it actually tasted. I wasn’t impressed at all. The soup base was light and crisp, but after a few sips I began to notice an influx of pepper going down my throat. Not a delight. The noodles were equally bad. They had that freeze-dried-feel you get from packaged ramen at the market. You know, with the permanent crinkles. I felt like I could reconstruct the square block without using a wizard. The toppings even tasted artificial. If you like chashu made from an egyptian mummified pig then this is surely the ramen for you. The egg was just an egg, the menma was just menma, and the kamaboko was just fish cake. I could’ve eaten this at home.
Gyoza: The gyoza looked great as well, but what is it with this place? They must have got their hands on the business plan for the hostess bar next door! I’m surprised that they just haven’t hired all the hostesses to sit with you while you eat this crap–I still wouldn’t go back. Okay, now back to the gyoza. Once again it tasted like something you can buy from the freezer section of Mitsuwa and cook at home. The garlic content was so minimal it could probably be classified as a pro-oxidant. I bet if a vampire was sitting next to me I would be one by now.