Mentatsu (revisited) – Costa Mesa, CA

So I set out this morning in hopes of trying the new Daikokuya in Costa Mesa after seeing edjusted’s post fly through Google Reader yesterday, but just as fast as I could get excited about a new ramen place in OC that excitement came crashing to a halt…hard. It was closed today and according to some workers at Marukai, the grand-opening would be tomorrow. Zannen…

688 Baker Street #7
Costa Mesa, CA 92626
(714) 979-2755

So that was how I reluctantly ended up at Mentatsu (again) to perhaps give their ramen another shot or to send it into ramen oblivion alongside the likes of Mountain, Fuji and Sushi Pia. To my surprise, Mentatsu had a line and a 15-minute wait. Could I be dreaming? I once associated them as being the worst in OC, but would this be their time to step up and impress? With Santouka just being Santouka, Kohryu on the decline, and the new Daikokuya threatening, is Mentatsu no longer scraping the bottom of the OC bowl? Despite my earlier misfortunes, the excitement is back and I’ve never been more gung ho about trying a ramen for the second time!


Shoyu ramen: The shoyu ramen was not much better than the first time, but one major difference I did notice was the lack of overpowering pepper, which was definitely a plus. Since my copilot had ordered this (I’m not a fan of adding corn to shoyu ramen), the few bites that I did take made me realize that they’ve indeed improved. I will no longer teeter when friend’s ask me to join them at Mentatsu.


Mabo ramen: Okay, for those of you that don’t know, other than shoyu my favorite type of ramen is mabo ramen. Whenever I go to a ramen-ya for the first time, I’ll try the shoyu ramen. If I go for a second time, I almost certainly order the mabo ramen when it’s on the menu. Mabo tofu is another dish with Chinese origins that consists of tofu, ground pork, and some other ingredients mixed in a spicy sauce. Mabo ramen is just this mabo tofu dish resting on top of a bowl of shoyu ramen. Now that we know what it is, Mentatsu’s mabo ramen would have to be one of THE best I’ve had in socal. Its sauce was very thick just how I like it and it held in the heat like an oven. Even with all the beads of sweat forming on my forehead, I couldn’t take a break to wipe them because it was so good. Mentatsu has been redeemed.


Gyoza: If I remember correctly, Mentatsu’s gyoza was lacking that garlic punch. While today’s gyoza was not quite the knockout, it was still a vast improvement from before.


UPDATED ON 2/2/2009:

Negi Ramen: Back in December, an Anonymous reader left a comment (see below) stating how good the Negi Ramen was. So in an attempt to prove them right or wrong, I set out to try this “really reall good” bowl.

So when it finally arrived, I couldn’t believe my eyes…it looked horrific! I mean, it just looked like somebody gave the world’s most angry man a few stalks of green onions, a handful of chashu, and a really sharp knife with everything being chopped and dumped on a bowl of their mediocre shoyu ramen. I wish I could say it tasted better too. Although it didn’t taste as horrific as it looked, there’s really no way it can compete with the best of them.


I probably could have made this at home. Foo-Foo Tei’s Negi Daku would blow this ramen away…literally.

8 Replies to “Mentatsu (revisited) – Costa Mesa, CA”

  1. Your pictures look great, but I went there the other night with my friend and the lady who worked there would not let us sit at a table but demanded we sit at the bar. I told her my leg was hurting and could not sit at the bar, but she did not care and would not let us sit at the available table (the table was clean, set up and available!). She then told us we would have to wait for another table to open up. I would have understood if there was a waiting list or the table was reserved, but there was no one else behind us and it was not reserved!! We were so upset we left. It made no sense why she would refuse to give us a table that was clearly available but demanded we sit at the bar when I told her I could not. Even the couple that were there who saw the whole incident commented to us that it did not make sense at all. We ended up going to Kohryu and the service and ramen were excellent! I would definitely recommend Kohryu and Shin-sen-gumi over Mentatsu as well.

  2. Wow, I’m very sorry to hear that! Yes their soup can be very bland, but if you can believe it, they used to be worse. I guess I was just really impressed with the mabo. Plus, Mentatsu will surely be a disappointment after being in Japan last week. Well sorry again about your bad experience. Thanks for checking out my blog and hope you still do after that. 🙂

  3. I just went to Mentatsu yesterday after reading your review, and it turned out to be a really bad experience. I ordered the chashumen, and my husband had the miso ramen. Neither were decent. The soup was very bland. The noodles were too soft. The bean sprouts were definitely not fresh. The so-called chashu seemed like overboiled slices of lean pork. It was so bad that we could not finish our bowls. Moreover, they forgot about our gyoza order, so we didn’t get to try that. The overall experience was very disappointing, especially having just gotten back from Japan last week. If you’re craving ramen in the O.C., I highly recommend Kohryu and Shin-sen-gumi–both are 10x better than Mentatsu (in both food and service).

  4. Oh, sorry to hear about Daikokuya. But Mentatsu’s improved? Hontou? One of the people I dragged with me to Santouka last week actually wanted to go to Mentatsu instead, but I won. Haha.

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