2700 Alton Pkwy
Irvine, CA 92606
I went down to Ajisen Ramen the other day because V had a craving for some really good ramen. Ajisen Ramen is a fairly new restaurant in the Diamond Jamboree center in Irvine. We headed down to the restaurant as a party of 5. The parking lot was so packed that it was crazy. There was no wait however, at Ajisen.
We were seated quickly at a nice comfortable table. We looked over the menu and tried to decide what to order. We were happy that most of the items on the menu had pictures so we could easily tell what looked good to us.
Since this was a Ramen house, I figured I'd order what they are known for. I decided to order the Ajisen Ramen ($7.50). I'm also a big fan of Japanese fried rice, so I ordered the Spicy Pork Fried Rice as well ($8.95). V ordered the Spicy Pork Ramen ($8.95), R and S both ordered the BBQ Pork Ramen ($8.50) and J ordered the Premium Pork Ramen ($9.75). S and V also decided to split an order of Gyoza (aka Japanese potstickers $5.50)
Our food arrived after a pretty short wait. I looked into the bowl of white murky broth and licked my lips in anticipation. I took a sip of the broth and I was immediately disappointed. Instead of steaming hot, the sip of broth was lukewarm. The flavor was pretty good. It was salty, but not too salty and had a nice pork flavor to it. It seemed to be a little extra oily though. The noodles didn't taste like anything special to me, but they didn't disappoint me as much as they disappointed V.
V's Spicy Pork Ramen looked like my basic Ajisen ramen with the addition of some ground pork that was flavored with spices. V stirred up her ramen to distribute the flavor and took a bite. She declared that the ramen wasn't very spicy and that the noodles were not ramen noodles. She said that she felt like she was eating Italian spaghetti noodles in ramen broth. She thought that the broth was ok but tasted overly fishy. She said she would not return to this restaurant due to the noodles.
(Spicy Pork Ramen)
R and S both seemed to enjoy their BBQ pork ramen. S was disappointed in the pork though and felt that it was too fatty. She thought that the noodles tasted fine and said that she'd be willing to eat there again.
(BBQ Pork Ramen)
J's opinion of the ramen here was very different than everyone else. J ordered the Premium Pork Ramen. It came with thin slices of leaner pork on top. J really enjoyed her ramen. She loved the noodles, the broth and everything else about it. She later declared that she liked Ajisen ramen better than Santoka and Khoryu. That's a pretty bold statement...
(Premium Pork Ramen)
After they brought out the ramen, they brought out my Spicy Pork Fried rice. I thought I had ordered a side dish, but apparently I ordered an entire meal. They brought the fried rice out with a bowl of miso soup and a bowl of pickled cucumbers. They put all the plates in front of me and I felt like such a pig. The fried rice was pretty bland. It barely had any flavor at all. The way they made the rice spicy was by dousing it with spicy sesame oil. This didn't make it any better. The rice was basically a bland, oily, greasy mound of bleh.
S and V thought that the gyoza here was just average. They both felt that there was nothing special about it.
Overall, I would classify Ajisen as a decent ramen place. The broth is pretty good but a little oily. I'd also like it if they served it a little bit hotter. If you're looking for a bowl of ramen in Irvine, Ajisen would probably be a pretty good place to go, if not your best option in the city. Granted I have not tried every restaurant that serves ramen in Irvine though. I have heard good things about Takaraya from Chubby Panda, so I will have to try them out soon. V also still believes that her ramen at Ajisen was quite possibly the worst ramen she has ever had. As I sit here writing this review, V is still ranting in the background. "There's something magical about the noodles in ramen! This place just threw spaghetti in there! They might as well toss some fettucini in there as well!"