Gardena Ramen did something that I thought was impossible when I walked in. After I walked out, I had to admit ....it almost knocked Daikokuya out as my favorite ramen place.
The key word is ALMOST.
Continuing on with my mini ramen crawl. After my massive disappointment with the ridiculously overhyped Asa Ramen, I walked across the street to a deserted plaza with the 99 Cents Market as being the center prize, to a very nondescript looking diner. (don't worry, the review will come up for Asa shortly).
The place was very drab with posters of hot looking Japanese chicks holding Asahi beer. The subliminal message is there, they want us to buy that beer. The place almost looked like it took over a bad sandwich shop or diner, then replaced it with a noodle joint. You can scratch decor and ambiance from the score card.
I honestly was expecting menu, but gosh darned it, the menu is on the wall. To my shocking amazement, there are two choices you can possibly pick: it's either Miso ramen or Shoyu ramen.Yeah, that's right. That is it and no special request either. It's one of those "take it or leave it" kind of deal. There are no options for additional toppings or adjustment to your spicy level. It's strictly his shot to make or break when the bowl of ramen arrives to your table.
There is also a little sign that indicated that gyoza can be ordered, which I promptly added that on. So really in essence, only three things you can really ordered at that place. Someone mentioned in their blog to suggest this place is the ramen Nazi. Even though the Seinfeld episode of "Soup Nazi" is so played out, for the first time I actually have that feeling for this place.My fear however was subsided when the gyoza came out first. These little things were not bad at all and were deliciously hot off the frying pan. For about $3, it is worth it.
Then came the real test, the bowl of ramen finally arrives where the presentation of the bowl was absolutely fabulous. (I wish I brought my camera to take the pictures). The portion on the pork was generous big, much thicker than thinly sliced from Asa.
The bamboo shoot was in a thick beaver log portion on a river of ramen soup. I took a sip of the hot Shroyu soup and was very satisfied with rich texture of the broth. When I took a snipe of the noodle, I was happy to see a golden lasso streaming down the chop stick. A sigh of relief?...oh yeah. At least it's not a dull slim white Khotteri that was sling at from across the street. The noodle was very firm and tasty to the last bite. There was also a marinated hard boiled egg to go along with it which was a big plus to complete the total package.
Since I was not the One-Pump Chump, I was thrilled that this shroyu chasu (sliced pork) ramen redeemed my sense of how a bowl of good ramen was suppose to be like. Compare to the other places that served Shoyu (a certain soy sauce based soup broth) ramen, I would generous put this place on top for its flavorable broth. According to Rameniac, who supposedly talked to the owner, it would take FOUR days for the chef to boil his signature soup.
Thank goodness that effort pays off. The noodle was superb enough to push it almost to the brink of the top, but oh so close. Still hold the pork based soup and ramen of Daikokuya as my favorite ramen.The so called ramen Nazi is a very quiet man with a very eager to please hostess wife that would take care of the patrons who walked in. Even though, it's hard to mess up the three items menu, you still have to give them for the effort they gave.
In a weird twist, they have more choices of beverages than the items that are served here. Amazing! I probably would have tried Miso ramen, but never been quite the fan of that type of soup base for a ramen.After the disastrous turn of the event at Asa Ramen, me walking over across the street to Gardena Ramen turned out to be a great discovery. I was so happy with my $10 tab (for the Shoyu ramen and gyoza with sales tax included), I almost wanted to continue on with my ramen crawl.
Alas, I'll save it for another day. If I can be that happy after every time I walked out a ramen joint, I would be happy to give my high marks for the place.Best ramen in town? Almost, but definitely one of the best ones out there.
FYI Note: I will do a review of Cafe Asa very shortly. Stay tuned!
1840 W 182nd St
Torrance, CA 90504