Sherman's Food Adventures: Menya Ultra (Mira Mesa)

Menya Ultra (Mira Mesa)

Initially, I wasn't planning to check out Menya Ultra while I was in San Diego.  You see, I wasn't exactly staying anywhere close to it and it required me to drive in possibly rush-hour traffic.  However, when I was in the Bay Area, my uncle was raving about the place non-stop.  So after switching hotels from Downtown to Escondido, we decided to head over to the Mira Mesa location.  Pro tip, make sure you put your name on the Yelp wait list before you leave the house.  So what exactly is Menya Ultra?  It is a chain out of Odate City in Northern Japan where their first locations in the US have been in San Diego.

Before we got to the ramen, we started with the Nagoya Fried Chicken with house made sweet soy and black pepper.  Think KFC (Korean Fried Chicken) and you will get the gist of it (but it isn't KFC because purists will argue this).  I would say the batter on this was pretty light and beautifully crunchy.  Beyond that, the chicken leg meat was juicy and bursting with natural sweetness.  What made this dish was the impactful glaze where it was salty, sweet and peppery.  A real flavor explosion.

My daughter went for her favorite with the Miso Ramen.  The pork broth was accented by housemade Miso, fish flavored oil and garlic oil.  On top, we found pork chashu, bean sprouts, green onion, wood ear mushroom, grated ginger, roasted sesame seeds and red pepper.  The fermented flavor of the miso really came through with a deep salty richness (without actually being salty).  There was plenty of umami and aromatics.  Noodles were al dente and the chashu was sliced thin and tender.

My son and Viv both had the Tonkotsu Ajitama Ramen with the same pork broth base (of course without the miso).  This way, we could really get the porkiness of the broth as well as background taste of the fish oil.  Broth was rich but not thick, so it could be completely drinkable (which my son did and finished it).  Being fatty enough the chashu easily melted in his mouth.  Ajitama egg was custardy and marinated just enough where we could taste the mirin, but was not salty.

For myself, I went for something different in the Paiko Tantan Men.  This broth was much more robust with the addition of miso, sesame paste, chili oil and vinegar.  Mildly spicy, the broth had depth and umami with the nuttiness of sesame.  A little dollop of seasoned minced pork added more body to the dish.  This completely flavored the chewy noodles. For my choice of protein, I chose the chicken cutlet which was a touch dry, but still delicious.  So was it worth the drive to visit Menya Ultra (as per my uncle)?  I would say yes.  The ramen was really good with the broth being the highlight.  Loved the richness without being too thick while the flavors were pronounced without being salty.  Service was on point too.

The Good:
- Flavorful broth that was not overly salty
- Well-prepared components
- Excellent service

The Bad:
- A little rushed since they are super busy
- Always a lineup, but you can get on the Yelp waitlist  


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