Lunch at Ton-Chan (San Gabriel, CA)—CLOSED

After taking care of some personal business, we stopped at Golden Deli to have pho. As usual, the place was packed and there was a waiting list (15-20 minutes, the lady said). Then, we noticed right next door a Japanese restaurant, called Ton-Chan, that specializes in Tokyo tonkotsu ramen. So rather than wait, we decided to give this place a shot. We’re glad we did because the ramen was excellent. The tonkotsu broth was really good, very milky and porky. There are only three variations: shio, shoyu and miso, though this is not traditional. Plus, you can dictate the heat level, anywhere from no spiciness to a whopping 6 (more on this later), another departure from convention, probably to appeal to chili heads more than anything. All of us ordered the miso. They all come with toasted nori, green onions, a half a boiled egg, and meltingly tender (and fatty) chasiu.

According to the waiter, the tonkotsu is made fresh every day, using a whole pig. Regarding the quality of the broth, I’d rank it pretty high. Like I said, it had the requisite milkiness and porkiness of flavor that you associated with the best ones, though not so extreme that it could be off-putting to some. You can choose two additional toppings for free. The egg was perfectly cooked: the whites were firm and the yolk just past runny, slightly hardened from the hot broth. The chasiu evidently was sliced from the sacrificial pig. And the ramen noodles had good texture.

Sapporo miso ramen
Sapporo miso ramen (with optional corn and baby bok choy)

Regarding the heat levels, the range is from 0 to 6, with 6 being classified as “my eyes are tearing.” If you can put away a double order of 6-level ramen, it’s yours free, a challenge that, if you succeed, will get your picture posted on the wall board. There were only a handful of pictures. Like I said, this adding of chile paste is not traditional. I suffered through the “4” that I ordered, sweating bullets and burning my tongue. Be forewarned that as you increase the heat level of ramen, your tongue increasingly loses its ability to discern subtle flavors.

Complimentary at meal’s end is a delicious dessert called an-nin, silken tofu topped with lychee syrup.

The restaurant opened in December of last year, so word hasn’t spread very much yet. It won’t take long.

So this strip mall has Ton-chan, Golden Deli, and Southern Mini Town. If Newport Seafood had stayed here (they moved down the street on Las Tunas), it could arguably be the best food haven in the San Gabriel valley.

Ton-chan (** CLOSED **)
821 W Las Tunas Dr
San Gabriel, CA 91776

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