Continuing the theme of eating a bit healthier (in relative terms), we headed North to Mesa Kearny for some Ramen action. Ramen? In San Diego??? Dude, isn't there a whackload of great Mexican food here? Why go for ramen? Yah, I know. That is all true; but with kiddies in tow, Mexican food doesn't work so well with them. When I mentioned Japanese food for dinner, I had them at Yakiudon. Besides, we were completely exhausted after an 11-hour stay at Sea World. Gawd. Honestly. 11 hours? Why does Viv insist on wanting to see everything??? At the end, the kids were in a bad mood and so was I. It seemed like a good bet to go with something familiar and not covered in syrup, butter or bacon. Much like all the places we've been to so far, we heard that there might be a lineup and an absence of parking spots for Tajima. Surprisingly, we experienced neither. Finally, something going my way after an excruciating day. I was so hungry at the end of our Sea World visit, Shamu was looking like sashimi.
Despite not being a ramen joint, Tajima is known for its ramen and they actually serve it late into the night (and morning on weekends). The deal here is you choose your noodles, soup base and whatever additions to the standard Ramen with chashu. I went for the Pork Belly and added an egg as well. When it arrived, it looked pretty good and one slurp of the soup - fantastic! Wow, I wasn't expecting that at all. The soup had depth and plenty of flavour. Sure it was slightly salty; yet that is expected with ramen. Good meat flavour though. The thin noodles were al dente and mostly remained that way to the very end (which wasn't long since I was hungry). The chashu wasn't exactly super moist; but it was tender enough. Now, the pork belly was delicious. It was not overly fatty while still being fall-apart tender. The egg was done right with a soft yolk and enough seasoning. Honestly, this ramen could work in Vancouver.
Not everything was a bed of roses though. Our Okonomiyaki was pretty average at best. We appreciated that they jam-packed enough filling to make 2 orders; yet it was too dense and doughy. I actually thought it could've used more oil in its preparation, it was a bit dry as well. With the abundance of cabbage and veggies, the whole thing fell flat taste-wise despite the sauce and bonito flakes. I had to resort to using sriracha to liven it up, much like how Bob Blumer does in his Tabasco commercials (however, Tabasco is weak compared to sriracha). For the kiddies, they had their favourite which is of course, the Yaki Udon. This was decent with plenty of ingredients such as cabbage, carrots, sprouts, pickled ginger and pork to go with the udon noodles. However, the pork could've stood to be less fatty though. In terms of flavour, the noodles were very mild which suited the kids fine. If it were me, it needed a bit more seasoning. The noodles were also on the softer side with the veggies still being crisp.
Lastly, Viv didn't feel like ordering a full dish of anything and went for a side order of Kimchi Fried Rice. Lo and behold, the plate of rice was pretty large. Too bad there was very little kimchi flavour though. It was pretty bland and lacking any form of kick. I suggested she add some sriracha and that seemed to do the trick. The fried rice kind of summed up the food here at Tajima - it's okay. However, the ramen is where it's at. It is easily comparable to other places where good ramen is not hard to find.
- The ramen is pretty good
- Reasonable pricing
- Friendly staff
- The rest of the food is average
- Wow, that's not many spaces in the parking lot...