Ramen Shack (San Juan Capistrano)

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:

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. Karaage

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).

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Can’t wait to see the rest . Thanks for the awesome report though!

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:grimacing: that’s what I get for doing this on my phone rather than tablet - accidentally hit the “send” button too soon!

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what day did you go and how long was the wait? thanks
I’m only 45-60 mins away and still haven’t been

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Is this ramen shack affiliated with the one in Redondo? Tried to google but couldnt find any confirmation.

I don’t believe these two locations are related

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We went on Easter Sunday and went at 12pm, and basically went straight in. Heritage had a pretty short line at the time too. Not sure how distorted Easter Sunday made it…

@hungryhungryhippos Don’t think they’re related. Sergio was at the SJC location, and reading all the articles about his focus and attention to detail, he probably wouldn’t be able to spread himself out like that.

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Definitely not. Chef is from Orange County originally I believe but was previously in NYC making this beautiful ramen. This is the one and only. From last September:

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I mean, is this the best ramen in Southern California? Maybe I’m in a weird mood but I’m here now eating the signature shoyu, and the chashu is perhaps the best I’ve had. Thick and smoky, fat but not stupidly so. The noodles are great (I’m not a big enough ramen fan to tell you what they are) and the broth is earthy and rich, without creeping toward heaviness.

I think I prefer this to Iki, which was my previous favorite.

Disclosure: im not a ramen lover. Take with a grain of salt, but you’re dumb if you’re in the area and don’t go here.

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