August 12, 2011

Orenchi Ramen (Santa Clara)

by Kayoko Akabori

Shio Ramen

The Bay Area is a big sprawling wasteland of awesome food, that rivals Los Angeles in its expansiveness.
Sadly however, up in the hyped-up food scene of San Francisco (“the city”), no one really talks about the South Bay. San Jose is a bad bad word. It’s a shame, cause just a 45 minute drive south, you’re in the mecca of Kayoko’s Three Major Food Groups, which is, as you know, the reason she moved back to California.

1. Sushi
2. Pho
3. Burritos

Pho can interchangeably be “noodle soup”, as ramen would fall into this category. As would dan dan mein. Or Sichuan-style egg noodles with sliced pork and pickled mustard greens. Or Cantonese-style egg noodles with pork/shrimp wontons and roasted duck. Ad infinitum.

Noodles + Soup FOREVER.

Throughout the years, I’ve tried most of the ramen spots in San Jose, as it’s usually the Saturday lunch of choice in the Akabori Household (fast and cheap). Although Orenchi only just opened in 2010, it is definitely in my top three favorites in the Bay Area.

Orenchi Noren

Orenchi translates to “my house” in Japanese slang. It was opened by the folks who run Sumika, which is a yakitori joint in Los Altos (also South Bay).

There is always a looooong line out front, especially on weekends.

My House

This day, we waited about 30 minutes. Kunio was not pleased.

Explosive Poster
Orenchi’s very enthusiastic poster that resembles those you would find outside food shops in Japan. Big bold colors and typeface and the requisite EXCLAMATION POINT!!!!!

A nice note from Chef Maruyama:

Nice Menu Note

We started with Kirin on tap and I had an oolong hai:

Beers + Oolong Hai

Enter karaage (fried chicken):

Chx Karaage

Chicken is organic, yada yada.

Chx Karaage

Hideko got the shoyu (soy sauce) ramen:

Shoyu Ramen
Spinach, menma (bamboo shoots), a slice of cha-shu (roasted pork belly), naruto (fish cake) and scallions.

Look at all the grease balls in the soup! This gives the soup an all-encompassing, mouth-covering roundness that is crucial for good ramen broth.

I always get the shio (salt) ramen, as I enjoy a more refreshing broth, as opposed to the heavy tonkotsu (pork stock):

Shio Ramen
Chashu, mekabu, wakame, tororo-konbu, yuzu, scallions.

Bouncy, squiggly egg noodles, which are my ramen noodles of choice:

Noodles by Yama-chan

There is yuzu (Japanese citrus) in the soup, which adds to the clarity of the soup. I can’t get enough of it.

And, the best part…

Cannot Remember Name of this Wakame
…Tororo-konbu aka slimy seaweed!

I always order a side of soy-marinated soft-boiled egg for $1.

Side Egg

It’s usually yolky and boiled to soft-porn perfection, but this day’s egg was a total failure:

Overboiled

And let me share with you the BEST KEPT SECRET on Orenchi’s menu. Behold: the side of takana gohan:

Takana Gohan

Yup, carbs with a side of carbs, please–this is how we roll. Kunio declared this as Orenchi’s “point” (ポイント, or strongest) dish. It is a heaping pile of pickled takana (mustard greens) over a steaming bowl of rice. For THREE DOLLARS AND SIXTY CENTS. Read $3.60.

Takana Gohan

AMAZING!

And, game over.

Orenchi Over

Stay tuned as I’ll be writing about another fave South Bay ramen joint. In a supermarket.

Map

ORENCHI
3540 Homestead Road
Santa Clara, CA 95051
T: 408.246.2955

FAT MAP

One Comment

  • Posted August 12, 2011 at 4:52 pm

    i love orenchi! let me know the next time you come down here so i can join ;)

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