Kohryu Ramen - the "black dragon"
Kohryu Ramen - the "black dragon"

No. 41: Kohryu Ramen at Kohryu Ramen

Japanese parents don't name their children after themselves. There are no men named Junior walking around Japan. Yet Japanese businesses have no problem calling their house specialty after the name of the shop. So it is with the Kohryu Ramen at Costa Mesa's Kohryu Ramen.

With two new heavyweight ramen shops opening up in Costa Mesa in the past year, the city's cemented the title this writer gave them almost eight years ago: "Ramentown U.S.A." The thing about the other worthwhile shops in town (Jinya, Yamadaya, Daikokuya, and Santouka) is they stake their name on the milky-white, fat and marrow rich, tonkotsu soup made from violently-boiled pork bones. While I'm a huge fan of this style of soup, sometimes, a lighter, more subtle change of pace is in order, and that's where Kohryu shines.

Here, the soup broth is based on pork bones, probably chicken, vegetables, dried fish, and some other ingredients I can't guess at. The technique used to draw out their flavor is a gentle simmer, resulting in a light broth of consommé clarity. Because the proteins and marrow from the bones aren't as heavily extracted, the mouthfeel of the soup is much thinner and far less fatty than the other shops in town.

To this broth, you can add the flavoring of your choice: salt, shoyu, or miso, three of the most popular seasonings in the Japanese pantry. In ordering the Kohryu Ramen, you're getting a soy sauce flavored, clear soup in the regional style attributed to Tokyo. It takes a hit of green onion two ways: fresh minced and toasty-fried. The heavy handful of darkly fried scallion colors the soup a rich brown, evoking the black dragon the dish and shop are named after. Simmered bamboo shoots and soft--boiled egg with a semi-liquid yolk, called hanjuku are the other bonuses that make this the house specialty.

Kohryu could have copied the success of the newcomers and given in to the heavy tonkotsu soup craze, but they stick to their subtle, lighter style of soup. When I'm feeling in the mood for Tokyo style ramen, I head for the bowl so nice they named it twice.

The list so far:

42. Meyer Lemon Curd at Irvine's Lucca Cafe
43. Cola Braised Pork at Haven Gastropub
44. Shao Shan Tsai at 101 Noodle Express
45. Any Sandwich from Paninoteca Maggio
46. Any Vegetable Platter at Tana Ethiopian
47. Bun Cha Ca Thang Long at Vien Dong
48. Comida Corrida at Lindo Michoacán #2
49. Gordita de Tinga at El Rincón Chilango
50. Lobster Waffle at Bruxië
51. The Scone at Coffee, Tea and Tulips
52. Huarache de Carnitas at El Paraiso
53. Chivito at Puerto Madero
54. Brizio Combo at Brizio Chicago Style Pan Pizza
55. French Toast at Starling Diner
56. The $7 Three-Item Combo Plates at Yu's Garden
57. Gudeg at Indo Ranch
58. Salted Caramel Gelato at N'Ice Cream
59. Live Amaebi at Sushi Imari
60. Any Burrito from Dos Chinos
61. Olive Tree's Iftar
62. Sonoran Dog at Rubalcava's
63. Sizzling Hiramasa Sashimi at The Catch
64. Yakisoba Dog from Dogzilla
65. Crispy Pork Belly from Lucca Cafe
66. French Toast with Bacon at Flurries Shaved Snow Bar
67. The Venetian Roll at Sushi at The Venetian Gentleman's Club
68. Okaki Asparagus at Hamamori
69. The "Fried Egg" at Eat Chow
70. Nam Kao Tod at Vientiane Restaurant
71. Chicken Ramen at Jinya Ramen Bar
72. Pig Snout at Tacos & Carnitas Sahuayo
73. Kale and Mushroom Flatbread at 320 Main
74. Congee at King Lobster Palace
75. Fish and Chips at Slapfish
76. Fries at Playground
77. Carne en Su Jugo at La Cocina de Mi Abuelita
78. S'mores at Ti Amo Biscotti & More
79. Broken Rice at Dat Thanh
80. Bulgogi and Potato Pizza at Chicken & Pizza Love Letter
81. Braised Bacon at Break of Dawn
82. Cake Donut at Cream Pan
83. Bistec de Pollo at Mercado El Rey
84. The Rhino at Rancho a Go Go
85. Cabernet Brownies at Blackmarket Bakery
86. Cookie Monster at Lola Ice Cream and Deli
87. Polenta Board at CUCINA Enoteca
88. Falafel Taco at Taco Asylum
89. Wagon-Wheel Bread at THE RANCH Restaurant
90. Toothpick Tacos at Mexico Supermarket
91. Hoppin' John at Memphis at the Santora
92. Free Beans and Chips at Taqueria Zamora
93. Pig in a Blanket Waffle with Gringo Bandito at Cafe Calacas
94. "Pork Hash" at Huong Giang
95. Sweet Chili Chicken Quesadilla At Kogi
96. Licuados at Mil Jugos
97. Hawaiian Ahi Poke at California Fish Grill
98. Takoyaki at Takoyaki Tanota
99. Fiesta Noodles at Jollibee
100. Chilaquiles Verdes Con Huevos Estrellados at La Tablita California

Click here to view our 100 Favorite Dishes of 2010!
Click here to view our 100 Favorite Dishes of 2011!

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