Hakata Ikkousha

3033 Bristol St.
Costa Mesa, CA 92626
Critics' Pick
Hakata Ikkousha

Jennifer Fedrizzi

Hakata Ikkousha is a Japanese restaurant in Costa Mesa. There, a TV plays a video of the founder talking about the strict quality controls at his growing ramen empire. He’s an intense-looking gent. When he isn’t shown stirring a big pot of soup or inspecting the noodles as closely as if he’s looking for head lice, he’s posing with his arms folded and his brow furrowed, Iron Chef-style. The video goes on. It shows the noodles being made in a factory so clean and modern it could produce Intel microchips. Then it argues there’s an optimal thickness when slicing the roast pork and how the froth in a properly aerated bowl of soup is essential. All of this would seem boastful if there weren’t awards to back up these claims or if Hakata Ikkousha’s empire didn’t extend from Japan to Indonesia, Singapore, China, Vietnam, Taiwan, Australia, Hong Kong and now the U.S. As with all bowls of tonkotsu, the broth here isn’t so much a broth as it’s a meal onto itself: thick, rich and salty. If you give it the opportunity to cool, you could pour it onto mashed potatoes and call it gravy. Ikkousha, as with others of the Hakata school, boils its soup long and hard from a big pot of pig bones. And if the translation from its website is correct, it uses “pig head and spine.” The resulting brew is creamy, balanced and homogenous where the broth at Santouka across the street tends to be oilier.


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