Eating in Rosemead: Hakata Ramen/Shin-Sen-Gumi

     A month or so ago, I posted a list of Rosemead restaurants:

     I knew at the time that it was not a complete list (which doesn't take away from the effort it took to compile the list in the first place).  One restaurant that's not on the list is Hakata Ramen Shin-Sen-Gumi:

     I came across their website completely by accident, and could not believe that I had never heard of this Rosemead restaurant before.  The name comes from a group of samurai who called themselves (surprise) "Shinsengumi."  The name roughly translates as "newly selected group."  An extremely simplified version of their history is that they wanted to demonstrate that even people born into what we would call "working class" families could enter the samurai class.  They pledged themselves to uphold the Tokugawa shogunate, which was unfortunate, considering that, by the time the Shinsengumi was formed, the days of the Shogun were numbered.  [And so, like a lot of Japanese samurai stories, the story of the Shinsengumi ends with all the protagonists in the story dying young (either getting killed in glorious battle or killing themselves in glorious sepaku)].

     Anyway, Shin-sen-gumi is also the name of a small chain of Japanese restaurants that mostly specialize in noodle dishes.  The one in Rosemead (8450 Valley Blvd, on the southeast end of the 888 shopping center) specializes in ramen noodles.

     In some ways, it's a natural fit for Rosemead.  After all, just consider the large number of Vietnamese "pho" restaurants in town!  The difference is this restaurant's business plan is to give you an authentic Japanese ramen experience.  That means lots of shouting in Japanese when you enter, when you order, when your order is delivered, when your bill is delivered, and when you leave the restaurant.  (The wait staff seemed to all have Japanese names on their nametags, but I'm not completely convinced that they're all actually Japanese.  Regardless, they all spoke English, so don't let the fear of a language barrier keep you from visiting).

    Being a ramen place, we ordered ramen.  I went with the char siu topping.  My wife went with the won ton.  With each order, you have the choice of how firm or soft you want your noodles, whether you want oil added to your sauce, how strong you wanted your broth to be, and whether or not you want ginger added to your soup base.  I went with the heavy-duty version of everything, except for my noodles.  I like them medium--neither undercooked nor all mushy.  My wife went mostly the same as me, except lighter on the soup base.  We thought both of our ramen dishes were absolutely delicious.

     When my wife and I visited (W night, about 8pm), the place was filled, although we only had to wait a few minutes to be seated.  Being crowded, and with youthful Japanese music playing overhead, talking required almost shouting across the table.  But it was still an unexpected experience for Rosemead.

      As I said, they're a small chain.  Also, their name is not unique (I recall seeing a "Shinsengumi" restaurant right north of Artesia Blvd, just after the freeway ends.  But that restaurant is not part of this chain).