These O.C. ramen shops are serving soul‑satisfying bowls brimming with addictive noodles, complex broths, and can’t-get-enough toppings.
1 Hokkaido Ramen Santouka
665 Paularino Ave, Costa Mesa, 714-434-1101;
14230 Culver Dr, Irvine, 949-733-1101
With stands inside Mitsuwa Marketplace in Irvine and Costa Mesa, the import is a cult favorite, and for good reason.
A Breakdown of the Tokusen Toroniku Bowl
1 // Noodles
Made from wheat flour and kansui (alkaline water), wavy ramen noodles cling and absorb the flavorful broth, allowing you to enjoy the soup with every slurp.
2 // Fish Cake
Thin slices of steamed fish cake with a texture akin to crabmeat are emblematic of the Naruto whirlpools in Japan. The pink spiral toppings add a touch of whimsy to every bowl.
3 // Broth
All of Santouka’s broths are pork-based, but other ramen shops might use chicken, beef, or even vegetables as a base. The long-simmered broth is then seasoned with salt, soy sauce, or miso paste.
4 // Plum
A dime-size pickled plum is the cherry on top of Santouka’s ramen bowls. The tart, acidic flavor is surprisingly potent; we don’t recommend eating it in one bite.
5 // Pork Cheek
Decadent, roasted slices of this rare cut of meat are served a la carte with the Tokusen Toroniku bowl. This offering is unique to Santouka, as most shops solely offer pork chashu (marinated pork belly).
2 HiroNori Craft Ramen
2222 Michelson Drive, Irvine
Don’t miss the melt-in-your-mouth, charred chashu pork or the vegan ramen at this sleek, modern joint. Just make sure to beat the lunch and dinner rush, as seating is limited.
Chef and co-owner of HiroNori and a native of Japan
How did you get into ramen?
I grew up eating my mom’s shoyu and miso ramen in Fukushima, Japan. We lived in the countryside, so my family and I would drive two to three hours to try other ramen.
Why did you move to the U.S.?
I came here as a student. I couldn’t speak English, and I didn’t have any money, but I wanted to open my own ramen shop. I went from being a dishwasher at one restaurant to being the manager and head chef of Silverlake Ramen in L.A.
What’s it like to open your own shop in O.C.?
We have a factory space that I manage with my partner (Tadanori Akasaka) where we make our noodles. If there’s anything I want to change, I just make a call and it changes. I’m always at the store listening to customers and improving our recipe.
6404 Irvine Blvd, Irvine, 949-596-7036;
18315 Brookhurst St., Fountain Valley, 714-962-8971
Have it your way with checkbox-style ordering and countless topping options such as green chile butter bombs, spicy miso, and flavored eggs.
4 Huntington Ramen
1325 E. Chapman Ave., Fullerton, 714-213-8228;
7391 Warner Ave., Huntington Beach, 714-715-3631
Come for the wide array of vegan-based broths including the “Vegan Ecstasy,” which has the same creamy flavor of a tonkotsu (bone) broth, the result of using pan- and deep-fried veggies as a base.
5 Motto Ramen
16412 Beach Blvd, Westminster, 714-902-1586
Brave the “Motto Red,” an extra spicy broth at this Westminster hot spot that uses dried Thai chile peppers to elevate the heat.
5 More To Try
891 Baker St., Costa Mesa,
A robust menu with a variety of soup bases and appetizers, including pan-fried gyoza, makes this Costa Mesa noodle bar a local favorite.
18687 Brookhurst St., Fountain Valley,
Get the seafood bowl at this Fountain Valley shop. Served with jumbo shrimp, mussels, and lobster, the spicy miso broth is balanced with cilantro and lime.
1891 N. Tustin St., Orange, 714-998-1940;
6970 Beach Blvd., Buena Park, 714-670-6567
Try the Tonkotsu Black at this Orange noodle house. It’s the signature bowl featuring a 10-hour-marinated pork bone broth and black garlic oil.
9 Ramen Tokudai
515 N. Main St., Santa Ana,
Cozy up at this noodle stand in Santa Ana’s McFadden Public Market. If you crave heat, get the spicy tonkotsu broth or ask for the house chile pepper oil on the side.
10 What’s Up Men
512 N. State College Blvd., Fullerton,
Choose from pork- and chicken-based broths and satisfy your late-night craving at this college town hang in Fullerton, open until 1 a.m.