In the third of my ramen-rating adventures, we shuffled right on in to Orenchi Beyond, surprised to find only two people ahead of us at 6 p.m. Orenchi Beyond is an offshoot of the very well-regarded Orenchi Santa Clara location, known for its 90-minute waits that people apparently giddily drive to from miles away. The Valencia spot opened its doors in late 2014, and I remember seeing long lines a couple of years ago. The space is invitingly open, and you can see the cauldrons bubbling away in the steamy, glass-enclosed kitchen.
Besides ramen, there are a lot of snacky-type bar food choices to toss back with your sake or beer, including karaage, tonkatsu sticks, and salmon carpaccio. Since I was with the BF, we started out with an order of gyoza.
Hanetsuki gyoza – the famed “gyoza with wings,” that it seems everyone is doing these days. A light, lacy sheet covers the dumplings and adds some crispiness. Sadly, we found these gyoza underdone – the skins themselves were doughy, too soft, and the pork filling rather bland. We didn’t finish them. We have never not finished a plate of gyoza.
Next, we tried the spicy chicken karaage advertised on a little table tent – it comes with a big frosty tin cup of Sapporo, which I let the BF have, while I sipped on their canned house sake – which happened to be the most expensive item of our dinner. It was tasty.
The tender chicken came in a rather gloopy, red slick that wasn’t so much spicy as just sweet. It tasted of red pepper, but the heat just wasn’t there.
BF got the Orenchi ramen.
This certainly looked promising. Tonkotsu (long simmered, pork bone broth) with soft boiled egg, green onions, seaweed, mushrooms, bamboo shoots, and pork “berry.” Yeah, all right, Engrish is funny! But there were maybe only two slices of pork berry in the broth. The broth itself was light, not super unctuous as with most tonkotsu broths I’ve tried. But because it’s a shiyo (salt) broth, we both found it too salty. The noodz themselves were hefty, chewy, and actually just right.
I went off-script and ordered the Miso Mayo Gohan.
A rice bowl topped with a very lightly boiled, almost raw, cold egg, pork belly, green onions, and a thick miso sauce. The egg gets mixed into the hot rice, creating an agreeable sort of porridge punctuated by scallion and seaweed slivers. Unfortunately, the pork belly, while inoffensively written this time, and plentiful, was dry, and the rest of the dish lacked flavor. I tried to correct with some togarishi but to no avail.
The only dish we finished was the chicken karaage. That just ain’t right.
I really wanted to love it. I want to be part of the ramen cognoscenti! Maybe the heyday of the Valencia spot is over? Or maybe it’s our lack of culinary experience with ramen, or we’re just uncouth boobs, brutes with burned-out taste buds. I’m waiting for people to tell me what I got wrong here, please, truly! But as the old saying goes: I know what I like. And sadly, I wouldn’t go back.
Onward and upward.
174 Valencia Street
Other Ramen reviews:
Hells Ramen, no fury , May 18, 2019
Rating the Mission’s Ramen, Coco’s Ramen, April 27, 2019