Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Cold Soba in Winter

It's exactly three days, thirteen hours and some minutes before my long awaited winter holiday. To say that I have a severe case of vacationitis is like saying that Southern California is warm in the summer. Yes, that bad. At this point, our one hour lunch breaks are the only things keeping me sane between the time I get here and the time I leave.

So, it wasn't that surprising when I started towards Chubbypanda's office yesterday at 2:00pm after a failed meet up with a friend for lunch. I kicked his chair a few times to get his attention and promptly began my single minded quest to get out of the office and find food. I was fixated on having something warm and soupy to combat the air conditioned chill of the room I work in and Chubbypanda gamely agreed to the suggestion of ramen. After several false starts, we finally left for Ebisu at 2:45 (ish)pm.

Ebisu Restaurant Front

The decor is nothing special; there's the usual window of plasti-food near the entrance and a selection of booths and tables scattered through the spacious, angled room. We had arrived well past the usual lunch rush hour, leaving us a nearly empty and blessedly quiet restaurant. We were promptly seated and after a few minutes of perusing the menu, Chubbypanda decided on the hakata ramen ($6.95) with extra cha siu ($3.50), while I thought I'd test out the ten toji combo ($8.50). The combo offered the choice of kitsune udon, hot soba or cold soba.

Plasti-food, deceivingly tasty looking.

I don't like udon, even if it is the delicious and, according to a friend, hard to find kitsune type. It's the texture, width and plain flavourlessness of the noodle that puts me off and brings back memories of endless afternoons eating rice noodles when my mom was too busy to make lunch. Yes, I know, udon not made of rice flour but I still can't shake that visceral memory to this day.

Ten Toji Combo: Cold Soba, Ten-don, seasoned green beans, seaweed, misc

Soba, on the other hand, I love but prefer cold. So, despite my earlier desires, I ended up with the cold soba. The soba was firm and well cooked without any of the soapiness that can occur on occasion. The texture contrasted well with the crunchiness of panko flakes I was persuaded to add, while the bean sprouts were a nice rest from the oiliness which eventually invaded the whole bowl despite my efforts to be sparing with the flakes.

The flavour of the ten-don, though sweet, was mild and a good match for the soba. The cooked green onions had less bite then their raw counterpart and, like the turnipy sprouts, served to cut the oiliness of the tempura battered shrimp. I worked my way through a good portion of it before I stopped, mostly full and largely put off by the soggy tempura. Soggy tempura is no one's friend. I determined that I much preferred oyako don.

Seasoned green beans and seaweed.

I moved on to the green beans, which were crisp and light, and ended up wishing I had more when I bit into the seaweed. It was that kind of seaweed, soggy and without crunch (nemesis!). Chubbypanda happily removed it from my plate and was kind enough to share some of his hakata ramen with me. The cha siu was tender and the noodles were still firm despite having sat in a bowl of hot broth for several minutes. I couldn't tell you how the broth tasted since Chubbypanda decided to drop a large spoonful of garlic, red pepper and more red pepper in it. It was... spicy. Very spicy.

Spice mix. Crazy scary.

All in all, it was a good meal and decently priced. As a last note, beware the pickled cabbage 'appetizer' and shredded daikon. Both are ... well, I suppose you'll find out if you end up eating it.

Pictures courtesy of Chubbypanda

Ebisu Ramen Restaurant
18924-A Brookhurst St.
Fountain Valley, CA 92708

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Comments on "Cold Soba in Winter"

Blogger Chubbypanda said ... (December 21, 2006 at 10:10 AM) : 

Hurray Elonweis!

For the rest of the pictures I took during that lunch, click here.

- Chubbypanda

Blogger ChristianZ said ... (December 21, 2006 at 10:44 PM) : 

I've been there a million times. My family goes there all the time. In fact, that's where I went for my birthday dinner two weeks ago.

Blogger The Bill said ... (December 21, 2006 at 11:56 PM) : 

d@mn I still have some beef with this place. I haven't step in the doors since my OCC years. But I think the 2 Brothers Pizza down the sidewalk is a real steal during lunch. OK so I still have some beef with Ebi-whatever ;-)

Blogger Unknown said ... (December 22, 2006 at 9:45 AM) : 

chubbypanda: Thanks.

christianz: Do you have a favourite dish? I like the takoyaki on ocassion, but find it hard to finish by myself.

the bill: Curious! What's your beef with Ebisu?

Blogger melissac. said ... (December 29, 2006 at 9:17 PM) : 

i usually order the curry ramen. about five years back, it used to be filled with more potatoes and beef though. now it's a little more skim, but still a steal at less than $7, and nice on a cold day when i'm really craving that curry flavor (and i happen to be remotely near fountain valley)

Anonymous Anonymous said ... (September 20, 2007 at 8:32 PM) : 

This is one of the best ramen houses in OC. I go there once a month and the service is great. I highly recommend the shrimp fried rice.

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