Center of the universe. Those are the words that describe a bowl of soup when you’re desperately hungry. Because the minute you engage it, the minute your spoon commits to breaking the surface of the broth, everything else surrounding you becomes irrelavent. Everything pales in comparison to the importance of the contents of that single bowl in front of you.
I first visited Ebisu Noodle Restaurant in January of 2007, when my friend Don and I discussed a videoblog we were planning called “Counter Culture.” That never happened, leading the way to this. I will never forget my first trip there, and my subsequent trip in March of that year with my wife.
We revisited Ebisu later recently and not a whole lot has changed. Sure, the prices are slightly higher than they were before (by 15%), but that’s more a sign of the times than anything else. And given the prices, it’s still a very cheap lunch date.
As before, the minute you sit down, you’re treated to a cooling salad of pickled cabbage. I don’t normally order beer when I eat soup or noodles, as it tends to leave me feeling heavy and bloated, but for some reason I make an exception when I’m at a Japanese restaurant. So I ordered a small bottle of Asahi.
I had Wonton Men ($7.95) – a very dense, deep, rich broth filled with a generous helping of ramen noodles, cooked al dente (just how I like them). In this seemingly bottomless dark bowl of broth were bean sprouts, bamboo shoots, scallions, and an omelette filled with shrimp that lurked just beneath the surface. It was the Loch Ness Monster of omelets, I swear to you.
The list of choices for ramen seem endless at Ebisu. Miso Flavor, Cha-Shu Men, Champon, Stamina Ramen, Mah-Boh, Curry, Vegetable, Ten Shin, Hakata . . . . I could go on all day. In addition, if you feel like really filling up, there are extras like eggs, corn, seaweed, wontons, ginger, BBQ pork, beef, or shrimp, even quail eggs. For an additional $2, you can really do some damage.
Rice dishes are equally as popular, and that’s what Katrina was in the mood for. Shrimp Fried Rice ($7.50) was lush, perfectly cooked rice packed with loads of tiger shrimp. It was a plate for two. Neither of us finished what we’d ordered. Other available rice dishes include Kim Chee Fried Rice, Curry Rice, Ten Shin Cha-Han, Chuka Han, a variety of rice balls, and Inari Sushi.
Rice dishes are served with Chuka Soup, which is made with dashi stock, seaweed, and ginger. Light and delicious, Chuka has that drinkability factor that makes you want to abandon your manners, push the bowl to your face and crank it back. These are the impulses that keep me out of most upscale restaurants, or at least near the back.
With such a wide variety food available, I could see eating lunch and dinner at Ebisu all week and not experience the same thing twice. Donburi, Okonomiyaki, Yakisoba, Izakaya-style appetizers, and a multitude of A La Carte items fill all 8 pages of their menu.
Japanese Noodle Restaurant
18924-A Brookhurst Street
Fountain Valley, CA 92708
Sunday through Thursday 11:30 AM – 9:00 PM
Friday and Saturday 11:30 AM – 10:00 PM