All the talk of ramen on this board made me want to try a new (for me) place: Shinsengumi Hakata Ramen.
My SO and I went there for dinner on Friday night. I opted for Hakata Ramen with corn and menma (bamboo shoots) and he opted for ebi fry & gyoza.
Gyoza: small & tasty. We made our own dipping sauce with the vinegar, chili oil, and soy sauce they provided.
Ebi fry: I didn't taste these but my SO devoured them quickly. Do not confuse this with shrimp tempura. Ebi fry is heavier. Came on a nice plate with shredded cabbage, sliced cucumber, tomato, and two sauces. Great presentation.
Hakata Ramen with corn and menma: I ordered the soup light on oil and the noodles medium. Next time, I'm ordering the noodles hard. It took me too long to eat so the noodles got too soft (IMHO) as the meal progressed. The soup is THICK. I'm used to lighter ramen soup bases. This stuff is muscular. And tasty. Lots of menma, not enough corn. VERY tasty. The noodles seemed a bit bland, though... perhaps because I ordered them medium. Maybe if I get them hard, they'll have a little more... liveliness to them. IMHO, the portion was large but keep in mind I'm more of a grazer than a gorger when it comes to dining.
Atmosphere: divey Japanese fast food joint with very few gringos. It's mildly grungy but clean, if you get my drift. The only caucasians there were escorted by full-blooded or half-and-half asians. A very good sign for a Japanese restaurant (IMHO ;-). Sit at the counter or at a group table. If you plan to sit at a table, come with a LOT of people. Tatami seating is available but, again, I think you need to show up with a lot of people. Don't know about reservations b/c we just showed up at around 8 PM on Friday night. Plenty of counter seats.
Conclusion: I will gladly bring my asian relatives (when they visit) to this place. Tasty food. No pretensions. It is what it is: good old-fashioned Japanese fast food.
We almost went to the Shinsengumi on Artesia Blvd. the following day but we got there at an off hour. One thing that bugs me about Japanese restaurants is the fact that they close mid-afternoon. I'm way too used to places being open all the time or close to it. (But that's my problem; not the restaurant's.)
Shinsengumi Hakata Ramen
2015 West Redondo Beach Blvd., Suite #C
Gardena, CA 90247