I've been going out of my ramen comfort zone lately -- that safely tucked away area that includes Shinsengumi and Santouka. But truth be told, I usually get disappointed, as I did at Mottainai Ramen in Gardena.
It's true that I'm anchored to the wonderfully porky and salty flavors of the above mentioned ramen joints, not to mention their al dente noodles and super tender charsiu that's been boiled for hours on end.
But Mottainai's broth tasted oddly like...gravy and that's not a good thing. I had the heavily pork-based tonkotsu ramen but the broth was thick in a gravy-kind of way, which is to say excessively thick. Strike one.
The charsiu pieces were passable. The noddles were a tad overcooked and the works were average. The works included bean sprouts, spinach, green onions and dried seaweed. Full sheets of seaweed didn't work for me at all. They're totally soggy by the time they hit the broth so why bother? I know Koreans do it with shredded seaweed in rice cake soup but that's at least shredded. Having to tear the giant unwieldy sheet of seaweed is a royal pain.
The gyoza were a bit on the porky side, meaning they smelled a bit too much like pork, which signals either unfresh or low quality ingredients. They were fried perfectly as the image shows but they weren't as good as Shinsengumi's.
The spicy miso that came topped with ground pork was even more disappointing. It was nothing like the spicy miso ramen at Santouka that I like.
Not sure I'll return. So my ramen journey continues but I have yet to be surprised at the non-faves to which I'm trying to give a chance.