ATTENTION!! On the left hand column, you will find links to search by cuisine or city. You will also find a restaurant index of all of the places I have written about on the column on the right. If you enjoy the site, please bookmark the site and tell a friend! You can also subscribe to be notified when the site updates by entering your e-mail address in the box on the left. Happy Eating!

Please visit our partner sites for info on OC restaurant openings and special culinary related events, Booze It Up OC for info on OC 21+ events and Brunch In OC for info and reviews on weekend brunches.

Griffin Eats OC's Fan Box

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Ajisen Ramen - Irvine-Diamond Jamboree

2700 Alton Pkwy
Irvine, CA 92606
(949) 833-3288

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.

(Ajisen Ramen)

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!"

Ajisen Ramen on Urbanspoon


S said...

Hahaha... that's an awesome way to end the review. =)

edjusted said...

Takaraya?! I'd hate to disagree with another food blogger but...well, I guess I'll just look forward to reading your take on it! ;)

Diamond Dog said...

Another blogger commented that the ramen here was cold. I think Elmomonster. I thought it was a fluke. But I think this place just sucks based on reviews and you all saved me some money by giving me the info I need not to eat here.

Also, Doesn't anyone find the prices high? I mean ramen is supposed to be cheap food! You can get a bowl of Pho for under 5 bucks all the time.

I went to Shin Shin Gumi once (bad ramen) with 2 people and dropped like 60 bucks one time!!!

I too am on the search for good ramen. That place on Baker is pretty good as well as the one in Costa Mesa by Wahoo's is OK. But nothing incredible.

Did I tell you guys I did that ramen eating contest at Orachon that was on Man vs. Food? I got it all down except about 5 teaspoon. All the spice sank to the bottom and made a paste and I couldnt eat it. There were like 2 handfuls of diced jalepenos and the bowl was HUGE.

My mouth was on FIRE, my guts on FIRE. I puked about 5 minutes after walking out the door into a trashcan and it burned coming up. It burned my nasal passages, eyes, everything It was like being pepper sprayed in the face.

Crazy thing...I want to do it again, because now I know that you gotta keep stirring it to keep the spices in suspension.

Griffin said...

Diamond are crazy. I can't believe you'd be willing to do that again after puking up hot peppers like that....

Anonymous said...

I have been to Ajisen many times as I work just down the street. I had driven by many times and had noticed a line. They are always packed at lunch time which is when I go. I cannot speak for the menu because everytime I have been there I order one thing - KIMCHI RAMEN! Pure heaven. If your eating mate wanted spicy then this is the dish. I have found the ramen to be pretty consistent every time but once. The ramen is not steaming hot when served, I find it at a temperature ready to eat. I would be pretty frustrated if I had to wait for it to cool down. KIMCHI RAMEN! I have gone with two other male co-workers, one japanese and they have also both raved about it. One of them ordered the rice dish mentioned - TWICE! and says he loves it - and the leftovers. When I was in Hong Kong and wanted to experience the local cuisine, I looked for the restaurant packed with all locals - Asian, and it was one of the best meals I have ever had. I find it interesting that 95% of the patrons here are...Asian. I highly recommend you try it, at least the KIMCHI RAMEN, once.

Eric Eats LA said...

I just ate at the Ajisen in Irvine and had a similar experience. Did you know that their gyoza is frozen from a distributor. And I was soundly disappointed in the spagetti like noodles.

I was reviewing the restaurant for The Examiner. Here is a link if you would like to read a little about the history of ramen and my take on the Ajisen in Irvine.

Anonymous said...

Ajisen's food was not that great. When I went their they were trying to get the kinks out of their drink machines, so they only had water to offer and their food was slightly oily. A lot of soup base not a lot of Ramen. I decided to go there because it wasn't busy in that establishment. I also have a child mind you a three year old, that has severe food allergies and asked if my child could eat his own outside food we brought in and they said no and that we had to leave, which we promptly did. Not very sensitive to the customers needs at all... Haven't eaten there since then and I never will. Told other people not to either.

Eric said...

Yes - the management is not trained well. I went to the Ajisen in Irvine the night before reviewing it to talk with the manager and tell him about The Examiner Online Magazine and that I would eat there the next day to review the restaurant for them. I mentioned that I would love to interview him and also be given any press materials. The next day when I came in he didn't even say hello. Then they put my daughter and I at a terrible table right next to the toilets. I asked them to switch us. Then I kept asking for the manager to stop by the table so I could ask him a few questions for my article (like what is best dish to order, where do they get their noodles, do they have a chef or just prep cooks, etc). But he never came. And as soon as the waitress heard I was a reviewer she and the others treated my like a trouble maker, very rudely. My daughter's dish was downright bad and ridiculously overpriced ($12 for a bowl of rice with three pieces of gammy pork fat on it), but I did not complain about anything. We both kept a straight face to keep the review's integrity. And I always pay for my meals which I made clear at the beginning so they wouldn't think I was asking for a comp. But it didn't matter. I was avoided by the managers like a plague, and eyed the entire time.

This has only happened once before at a Chinese restaurant in Alhambra. I handed them my Examiner card and asked the waitress to recommend their best dishes (nothing free). She freaked out, refused to wait on our table, and promptly left the restaurant, purse in hand. Then the manager all but kicked us out.

Staff attitude comes from the top. So if the management acts poorly you can bet that's exactly the way the top-brass wants it. What they did to your child at Ajisen shows seriously poor judgement.

Anonymous said...

Not sure why you are all complaining. I just went there with my family which includes twin sons that are 2 yrs old. The staff was very friendly. They answered our questions about the food due to our boys' allergies. No complaints. The food tasted great and came hot. Multiple staff said "hi" and "bye" to us when we came in and left. All with smiles. Great experience.

Eric said...

Every experience is different. But overall the Ajisen Ramen experience must be good for people, because it is almost always packed, and there are hundreds of them around the world. It's just like McDonalds. I've had great experinecs there - I've had horrible experiences there - but I keep going back for more. Who knows - I may even end up at Ajisen again. Glad it was good for you.

Anonymous said...

Absolutely turrible. Worse ramen ever. Since when did spaghetti and cabbage constitute ramen?

Anonymous said...

I ate there once 2months ago and could stated fairly that the broth is too salty and the ramen noodles is so so. It feels almost like instant noodles to me, except in a bigger portion. Being next to the kitchen, I realized why the noodles are cold. One cook would dump the noodles in a series of bowl, while another one is lathering it with the sauce (which may be the same, except for the spices). As a result, you may have 3 to 5 bowls waiting for its turn to be filled with soup.As for the others finished bowls, they were waiting for a waiter to pick them up and deliver to the customers.Bit pricey though.