FOOD: Ramen done right
If you’re a local Angeleno who wants me to pay attention to your neighborhood’s market, please drop me a line. I’m keeping a running list of to-be-visited markets for 2007 and would love to add more.
And on with the usual…
Last night JJ was craving some ramen – really good ramen – where the noodles are fresh, the broth is rich and savory, and the ambience is energetic and friendly. Enter in Shin Sen Gumi.
Located on Valley Blvd. in the heart of Rosemead, Shin Sen Gumi is a tiny ramen house shoved into the east side of a large shopping center. There’s ample parking, but prepare to wait outside during the dinner rush. It was jam packed when we got there. But the wait was made tolerable by the hostess’ efficiency and warm smile. When our turn came up, we were shown to a set of seats along the counter.
I wasn’t famished, so I stuck to the dinner appetizer menu and ordered a soft shell crab.
I can thank the State of Maryland for instilling in me a proper love for this crispy beast. If it’s on the menu, I usually order it. It was good. Probably could have used a little less of the sauce, but the flavors matched nicely with my steaming cup of tea.
Shin Sen Gumi’s trademark Hakata Ramen was JJ’s obvious choice.
It comes in a massive bowl, hot and steamy, and cooked to your noodle preference (soft, medium, or just-barely-boiled). You have the option of ordering extra noodles from the chef if you find that you have room for more noodle love, but wait until you get about halfway through your bowl. Even with JJ’s hearty appetite, he found their serving more than ample.
Aside from giving good noodle, Shin Sen Gumi’s atmosphere makes for a truly pleasurable dining experience. From the tea pourer to the noodle chef, each employee was a member of a coordinated customer service ballet. They shouted a synchronized greeting when we entered after the hostess announced us (a smile-inducing “Irasshai!”). They thanked us in unison when we received our check, and then again when we headed out the door. They do this to everyone coming in and going out with the same undiluted joint enthusiasm. JJ was kicking himself for not bringing his recorder. My interest in food is well-matched by JJ’s interest in sounds. Shin Sen Gumi was a harmony of ear candy to him.
It was an all-around delightful experience. And we’ll be back. Oh yes.
Jonathon Gold reviewed the Gardena location for the L.A. Weekly in March of 2006. It's an enjoyable and informative read, laced with Mr. Gold's usual flair. Also worth reading is the Who We Are section of the Shin Sen Gumi website.
Shin Sen Gumi Hakata Ramen
8450 Valley Blvd., #103
Rosemead, CA 91770
Monday thru Friday:
Lunch 11:30am - 2pm
Dinner 6pm - 11pm
Sat. & Sunday:
11:30am - 11:30pm