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By Steven Li on 2007-01-26

January 26, 2007


It was just okay. I wanted it to be more, I really did! After all, I had a fine bowl of ramen at Yotteko-Yaback home, with incredible slices of pork that seemingly disappeared once they met my tongue. And it is ramen weather, shops here should be at full force, executing rich bowl of broth, noodles with the proper give and pork, fatty and rich. But Shin-Sen-Gumifailed in every one of these aspects. Sad, given the reviews read on chowhound and touted by Jonathan Gold and in many food blogs.

Maybe it was my fault, perhaps I should have gone to the original location in Gardena, as opposed to the Rosemead extension. Nonetheless, if you sell ramen under the same name, don’t we have some right to believe that flavors and taste remain at least somewhat consistent throughout locations?

You first enter and are greeted with an exuberant, “Irashaimase!” – which sounds like “HMSA” as far as I’m concerned. It’s loud enough to leave your ears ringing all the way through a dessert of various che’s and avocado milkshakes. Everyone who works here is bubbly and full of enthusiasm, like over energetic cartoon characters come to life.

The order of Hakata Ramen($6.95) comes quickly enough, though unfortunately at a lukewarm temperature. I dug in for the slices of pork first, eager to experience a savory rich melting fattiness. Inside I bit into a lean, if not tough piece of char siu that require quite a bit of chewing. My “normal” cooked noodles (can also opt for “firm” and “soft”) and “normal” broth (versus “oily” and “no oil”), came as promised, but nothing stood out, noting was great, just a lotta okay. A boring, single dimension broth and noodles that were appropriate, but shone in no way particular. The little mass of pickled ginger made no sense and I found that it only functioned to confuse the flavors of the dish. Pretty, but brainless.

Same goes for the Gyoza ($4.75) – what’s the point in appearance if you are functionless. They are tiny and cute, the skin is paper-thin and the bottom fried to a nice crisp. But attempt to pull them apart and the skin of one sticks to other, ripping off and leaving a half naked gyoza. I hope this wasn’t intentional. You’ll find a mini mound of pork inside, well seasoned and yet so typical, tasting like any one of the gyoza’s you may pick off the frozen aisle in Ranch 99, perhaps even not as good.

However, the staff is so blinded and possibly exhausted from continuously shouting, “Irashaimase!” and attempting to make best friends with all the customers that they forget the purpose here is to serve good food. I overheard our waiter asking the guy at the next table, “Cool shirt dude, vintage or what? I got to get me one. It’s ripping!” And while he might have been sincere, it was overdone and I was truly tired of hearing his voice resonating over the entire restaurant. Come to think of it, I don’t think I hear a word of my dining companion. We got in and out in less than 30 minutes fast. Our waiter even opened the door to let us out.

Luckily our evening was saved by Banh Mi Che Cali and Mr.Baguette – both which I’ll post tomorrow! :)

Shin-Sen-Gumi Hakata Ramen
8450 E. Valley Blvd. #103
Rosemead, CA 91770
(626) 572-8646

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