Daikokuya’s ramen is good enough most of time. Shin Sen offers more food choices and a solid Hakata-style broth with noodles that are about as “katame” as one can get in the (626). Naga Naga, a Thai-American operated chainlet with its $5 “anniversary” ramen is already dying a slow death on Valley Blvd less than 2 years after opening. After a close encounter with a toilet, I can only advise everyone to never visit Ajisen, a bonafide Chinese ramen chain. This is the state of ramen in West San Gabriel Valley.

Every quarter a new tip-top ramen shop runs through the conscious of the noodle-aware in Los Angeles. Some of these folks are true noodle whores, some are thinly-disguised Nipponphiles, some simply watch too much anime. Personally, ramen calls out only when the other doze Asian noodle forms become tiresome and new for 2011, there’s Ton Chan Ramen to fulfill that calling.

Ton-Chan Ramen, San Gabriel City

The hanjuku tamago currently is hit and miss. Sometimes the yolks seem liquid, golden, perhaps closer to poached than boiled. Sometimes, (and just like Daikokuya) the egg center’s is cold and bordering overcooked. Sometimes the char siu seems a bit under seasoned, but it’s always tender, soft and melty. Despite offering the choice of 6 tiered spice level, there’s no noodle hardness, nor garlic oil, nor kotteri selection. While the shop sign clearly denotes “Tokyo” ramen, there isn’t a simple shoyu chicken broth offered. This shop is clearly still a developing toddler.

Ton-Chan hanjuku tamago in tonkotsu shio ramen Ton-Chan hanjuku miso tonkotsu ramen

We were told a stockpile of pork bones is simmered 20 hours for the tonkotsu based. Added for extra butteriness are kilos upon kilos of chicken feet. The biggest distinction between typical shio and shoyu ramen becomes moot at Ton Chan as both soups are milky due to tonkotsu based stock. To quickly tell the difference, one needs to distinguish the straight and thin noodles found in the shio versus the curly & thicker noodles of the shoyu. The “red miso tonkotsu” broth at Ton Chan is an overpowering, though quite delicious, mix of Shinshu miso (commonly marked as “golden” and mild) & tonkotsu. Curly, thick Futo-Chijire ramen (similar to Daikokuya) is the only option available in both the shoyu and the miso broths. Similar to ASA, extra green onions, naruto fishcake, spinach, corn, nori, kikurage are all available in addition to the stock slice of chashu, 2 egg halves, sheet of nori.

After 400 words, everyone probably just want to know one thing: Is it better than Santouka/Daikokuya/Jinya? Does Ton Chan make the Mottainai drive obsolete? I really can’t say/probably not; I’m just not a ramen otaku. Still, if the devil’s in the details, one should really pay attention to the dollops of black garlic oil – again, I’m accepting the server’s explanation as gospel, feel free to correct – served as part of the final ramen toppings. Prior to swirling the garlic oil about, the tonkotsu broth is already complex and pleasant; after dispersing the black garlic oil (seen below), the entire bowl becomes preternatural.

Ton-Chan Ramen, tonkotsu shoyo with chashu naruto

Caveat emptor: perhaps trying to cash in on Orochon’s success, Ton Chan is pushing the spicy ramen challenge. Though they bought a Polaroid just for this purpose, I’d suggest against such Daredevilish behavior. The base broth stands on its own.

Ton Chan Ramen
821 W Las Tunas Dr
San Gabriel, CA 91776
(626) 282-3478

twitter: @tonchanramen
Ton-Chan on Urbanspoon

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  • http://wanderingchopsticks.blogspot.com/ Wandering Chopsticks

    It’s in the old Aji Man. They even kept the same phone number. Did the family sell it? I liked it enough, but with Daikokuya so close, I always ended up there instead.

  • Anonymous

    WC, based on google map, you’re uncontroversially equidistant from both Daikokuya MPK & the new Ton-Chan!

    Yes, Aji Man sold to Ton-Chan, now held by a small group of co-investors including a Japanese couple.

  • http://theroamingbelly.blogspot.com/ bagnatic

    those that eat fire challenges deserve lava coming out of butt.

  • http://tannazie.blogspot.com/ tannaz

    damn, that looks sexy. you think they’d consider opening a branch in my apartment?

  • Anonymous

    Though I’m a spice whore, I think I’d prefer the natural base to let the true milky pork flavor shine through. As the weather gets chilly, I’m really craving a good steaming bowl of ramen…or seul neong tang.

  • Anonymous

    Wants. Now. To chase head cold away.

  • http://infinitefress.blogspot.com/ zingerman

    The ramen debates are too recondite for me. But I’ve only had ramen at Robata Jinya, mostly as take-out, and the whole concept of traveling more than a mile for chicken noodle soup or bacon noodle soup is laughable. I do like the pork-bonito version at Jinya and the chicken noodle soup, when it’s available, which is a Japanese version of deli food.

  • Anonymous

    nice, that’s worthy of Confucius right there. I ‘ve seen “ring of fire” being used to describe a burning bunghole, but poopin’ out lava is much more accurate.

  • http://twitter.com/ThirstyPig Jimmy C

    You had me at the logo . . .basically I stopped reading after I saw the pig and looked for the address

  • http://pinkfoodie.blogspot.com/ Pink Foodie

    mmmmm “kilos upon kilos of chicken feet”

  • http://beefnoguy.blogspot.com/ BeefNoGuy

    Ton-chan got the right approach there to use chicken feet. Too many NorCal ramen entrepreneurs are trying to do hybrid broth and mix chicken and pork bones at home but can’t come up with a good stock. Too many like to market the “15 to 20 hour” minimum to slowly stew the soup, like numbers mean anything anymore.

    But given it’s the SGV, Ton-chan sounds like a Chinese name, hell some Hong Konger could open nearby and call his shop Pork Wong, or Swine Lee.

  • http://gourmetpigs.blogspot.com/ Gourmet Pigs

    It’s in the old Aji-man? I thought Aji-man was just so-so, but this looked much better. I should give it a try, thanks for the report!
    I had the black garlic oil at Hide-chan Ramen in NYC. Found it a wee overpowering.

  • http://twitter.com/greatfoodrecip Great Food Recipe

    Everytime I come here, I know I get happy, its cuz they seve great food. Food are so fairly priced. The service was always great, and the nice guys have a LOT of ownership. so much, in fact, that i always think that they ARE owners.

  • sinosoul

    Thanks for commenting. I like the first post w/o the Twitter link much better. 

    Calling Ton Chan’s shoyu or shio broth “light” is a bit of a stretch though. They’re still both tonkotsu based broth.


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