Finally had a chance to make it down here, and boy was this place worth the schlep. This was the best ramen we had eaten in a long time. Service was extremely friendly and casual, but very helpful and knowledgeable.
You can read about Keizo Shimamoto in the LA Times and OC Register articles, but he was the inventor of the ramen burgers. More importantly, IMHO, he went to Japan and ate countless bowls of ramen and studied their flavors, all while apprenticing at a few noticeable ramen shops. This experience and attention to detail really shows here.
We ordered three items:
- Triple Threat Ramen
I was jonesing for their gyokai tsukemen, but they don’t have that as a regular item on their menu anymore. However this triple threat quite rightly scratched that itch, and the server even told me that the triple threat would have the same flavor profile. This triple threat includes pork, chicken, and fish broth. It was both complex and deep in flavor yet not super heavy like your garden variety tonkatsu. Everything about this bowl (and the next) was fantastic. The noodles had just the right amount of chew, the char siu was both smoky yet very tender and rich, and the other ingredients in the bowl (e.g., menma) were fresh and had the perfect texture.
- Dirty Shoyu Tan Tan Men
The dirty shoyu ramen (Shimamoto San’s signature shoyu broth with niboshi added) is a regular item on the menu, but this tan tan men was a specialty, with the ground meat added as well. I thought the triple threat was great, but the dirty shoyu broth was even more noteworthy. Now, I like lots of fish powder in my soup (hint hint Golden Gai), so I’m biased, but this north combined the smooth and savory profile of shoyu with the umami + earthy punch of the fish powder. And in the case of the tan tan men, there was a chili spice kick as well. Definitely flavor overload, in a good way.
This was well done - the batter was fairly light - the chicken was moist and flavorful, well seasoned and savory. Would order this again.
Pro tip: if you order extra noodles (kaedama) order them later on in your meal rather than at the onset. They send you piping hot noodles after you’ve slurped the original bowl, and these noddles actually help reheat what’s left of your broth late in the game. The noodles have been well drained of the water too, so they don’t dilute your broth like I’ve seen at other places.
Ramen Shack is definitely a destination-worthy place to eat. One bonus is that it’s a few hundred feet away from Heritage BBQ, so there are bang bang possibilities (though we were fairly stuffed).