At the spur of the moment, my daughter asked if we wanted to go out and have ramen for lunch. Sounded like a good idea. Since she’d never been to Ramen Fujisan, that’s where five of us headed. Located along Valley Blvd in San Gabriel where there are more strip malls than you can shake a stick at (and therefore lots of places to eat), Fujisan is the rare ramen restaurant. I’d been there once before and liked their tonkotsu ramen.
This time around, I decided to have the “strong” broth (I chose the “medium” before). Ever on the lookout for truly porky tonkotsu broth—and being frequently disappointed—I was truly pleasantly surprised. The first few sips is like tasting the essence of porky pig, almost gamey in its funkiness. But as my taste buds adjusted, i realized how much I was enjoying it. I also realized that other versions I’ve had were pretenders, either watered down for American tastes or not done properly. Combined with perfectly cooked firm noodles (and here you can order them “hard,” “regular” or “soft”), this may be the best tonkotsu ramen I’ve had the pleasure of eating. The pork belly (you can also ask for pork loin) slice, shredded tree ears, green onions and a single toasted nori square were fine enough, but secondary to the two main stars. An egg, which can only be ordered at extra cost, was the lone underachiever, having been sliced in half and therefore the yolk congealed from the hot broth. A wonderful ramen otherwise (☆☆☆½).
The option to specify the spiciness level has gone by the wayside, replaced by a single add-on choice called “spicy miso.” You used to be able to pick on a scale between “none” to “extra spicy.” Also gone is the macho challenge called Eruption of Mt Fuji in which the goal is to finish a ramen bowl at the spiciest level in 20 minutes, either costing you $30 if you failed or getting your tab picked up the restaurant plus a $10 restaurant certificate if you won. Winners had their photographs posted on the bulletin board. But this game has been replaced by another. If you finish a large bowl of Mt Fuji Ramen, equivalent in volume to 4-5 regular bowls, within 20 minutes, you get the same reward or penalty as before. Once you win, you can’t challenge again. Of course, you can lose $30 a pop as many times as you want.
Ramen Fujisan (**CLOSED**)
529 E Valley Blvd, Ste 138-B
San Gabriel, CA 91776