As I slowly begin to slip back into hermit/hibernation mode to study for exams, I find myself indulging in the pleasure of eating out at restaurants again. During hibernation mode, all diets go out the door and I splurge, using the excuse that eating out instead of cooking will save me time – which means more time to study! In theory, at least.
So tonight, I decided to finally try Orenchi Ramen in Santa Clara/Sunnyvale. There’s been a lot of hype around this place from people I know, and since I started craving ramen as the work day ended, I thought what the heck, lets go check it out. I walked in by myself at around 8pm and the restaurant was full. Granted it isn’t a huge space, but on a Tuesday night at 8pm it is still pretty impressive. Thank goodness they had bar seating for people like me who dine alone a lot.
The aroma or ramen when you walk into Orenchi is mouth watering. In fact, I literally found my mouth begin to water as I browsed through the menu. I decided to order the Orenchi Ramen – the classic. My philosophy is if something on the menu is named after your store, it must be the staple and it better be damn good because that’s what I’m going to judge/review you on. I also ordered the Karaage Fried Chicken because I felt a little like splurging tonight. My order was taken promptly and I waited patiently for my food.
Side note – one little trick for when you’re eating alone. Have something with you to do. Whether it be playing with your phone, reading a book, reading a newspaper, just anything. I chose the phone route and just read espn articles as I waited. If you’re eating alone and you just sit there blankly waiting for your food, it will seem like forever. And you’ll start staring at other people and it’ll make their eating experience quite awkward too.
Anyway, back on track. The chicken came out first. It was a bit oily, but it’s fried chicken so I can’t complain. There really wasn’t anything special about the dish. Just three pieces of fried chicken for $4.
Then the ramen finally arrived. It had a slice of pork, a piece of seaweed, bamboo shoots, green onions, and a soft boiled egg. The broth was tonkatsu flavor. Now, I’ve had lots of ramen in my day, and honestly this is not one of the best ones I have ever eaten. The bowl of ramen wasn’t bad, but I guess I just didn’t see or taste the hype. For $9, I was only given one slice of really thin pork and the other ingredients didn’t even make up for that. The ramen noodles itself was good – good consistency and cooked well.
But I think the real disappointment came in the soup. First of all, the soup had this sort of oily layer to it that was a bit of a turn off. And it lacked a richness and depth of flavor I was looking for in ramen soup. I understand that the tonkatsu soup base was probably lighter, and I probably should have gotten the soy sauce soup base, but still – for their signature dish named after the restaurant, the soup lacked a punch that wowed me.
The one really bright spot of the bowl of ramen was the absolutely perfectly cooked egg. I love eating eggs, and this one really hit the spot. The egg white was cooked through while the yolk in the center was still golden and yolk-y. I think it would have been even better if the yolk was a little more runny, but that’s personal preference and I won’t dock points for that.
Overall I had a good dinner, but was a little let down at the same time. I think I will come here again to try some of their other appetizer dishes as well as other ramen soup bases, just to see if it’ll make the experience better. Orenchi definitely has potential, and if they are able to move locations I think it would do wonders for them. Off the top of my head, excluding Japan, two places I’ve had better ramen are Ramen Halu in Saratoga (their pork is amaaazing) and a ramen shop in Japantown SF.