No need for a descriptive overview of Costa Mesa's Mitsuwa Marketplace food court because I'll assume most who read this blog have visited this hive of Japanese grub; for those who haven't, I just described it! The stall foodies love most is Santoka Ramen, cookers of a soup that has launched a thousand bad Tampopo references. Ate there yesterday; slurped down the spicy miso ramen, all about a milky, oily, sweet broth holding magazine-thick pork slices, glistening ramen noodles, yada yummy yada.
Of course you should come here when you don't want to bother with pho. But what struck me about the spicy miso ramen is how...well, unspicy it is--at least from this Mexican's palate. It isn't a bubbling volcano, doesn't scorch or warrant a three-napkin salute like, say, the salsa de aceite from your finer O.C. restaurants; all I felt was sniffles, but it could've been that cold I'm fighting. Then again, I'm not sure that's what Japanese seek from their heat (consider their curry), and that maybe this does qualify as the habanero of Japanese soups. Then again, maybe my tongue is so deadened by gurgling on Tapatío since my chavalo days that my Scoville scale is permanently warped. Then again, I'll shut up and state the One Truth: Santoka's ramen rules.
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Santoka Ramen, 665 Paularino Ave., Costa Mesa, (714)557-6699. Now, Tampopo!