I finally had a chance to drop by Mentatsu Ramen House and check out the ramen on a day when I wanted something other than fast food for lunch. Tiny little place that was fairly busy when I showed up, very clean and very nice. The servers were very attentive and quick to notice when I was ready to order.
I ordered the chashumen, which is the shoyu ramen with chashu pork. Or it was supposed to be chashu pork. But the menu said roast pork, and that's what I got.
I come from a Chinese family (most of you probably guessed that from my name), and BBQ chashu pork is one of my favorite Chinese foods. Most noticeable characteristic is the red color of the pork, and its flavor is somewhat different than regular pork.
What I got with my chashumen was not BBQ chashu pork. The menu did say roast pork, and I did get roast pork, where the strips were brown/grey color, just like I would get if I ordered a roast pork sandwich at any sandwich shop.
Maybe this just threw me a bit, since I didn't get my chashu pork. Overall, I thought the ramen was decent, but the broth did seem to be a bit plain, not as flavorful as others. Other items included in the ramen were half a boiled egg, strips of that imitation crab seafood, and veggies.
I've been to the other nearby ramen places, like Mitae Ramen just a block away, Santoka Ramen in the Mitsuwa marketplace, and Shin Sen Gumi in Fountain Valley.
I like Mitae Ramen for its prices and huge chunks of chashu pork in their ramen bowls. Santoka Ramen is a favorite among others on the board, but I found the bowls to be the priciest in the $7.50-$8 range, and offering the smallest bowls. Flavorful and good, but nothing outstanding to make me go back there first.
Shin Sen Gumi is probably the top ramen place nearby that I like, with Mitae Ramen behind it. I'd ranked Mentatsu and Santoka behind those two.
But because of the excellent service at Mentatsu, I'll likely go back to try something else on the menu, where they have numerous ramen bowls, along with rice entrees and bento box meals.
Now that I know roast pork doesn't necessarily mean BBQ chashu pork, I'll be better prepared for what to expect at my next visit.
Mentatsu Ramen House
688 Baker St. #7
Costa Mesa, CA
(next door to Mother India restaurant)