|Photo by my lunch date Joz|
Mitsuwa Marketplace in Costa Mesa is hosting a food fair right now (they stretch the word "fair" to mean they're offering a couple special, limited-time-only dishes) and this time, pop-up shop Nidaime Tsujita is serving up tsukemen, or "dipping noodles."
With this style of ramen, popular in Japan but a rarity in the States, the noodles and the broth are served in separate bowls. One benefit of this: The noodles won't get soggy during your meal. Using your chopsticks, you're to dip the noodles into the broth (which is actually more like a gravy) before taking a bite.
The result: mouthgasm. The spaghetti-like noodles are perfectly al-dente and the broth, made with pork and chicken bones, seafood and vegetables, is rich, slightly creamy and enhanced with a tangy kick thanks to the slices of lime. It's delicious, yet intense--you'll have no urge to gulp down the rest of the soup once the noodles are gone. The chashu is tender, oily and fatty, the way chashu should be.
The guys at the counter are masters at upselling you on the soft, oozing hanjuku egg to accompany the dish. Don't hesitate. Just go for it.
Lines can be long, so head over there before or after the lunch rush. And hurry, the fair ends on Sunday, Nov. 7.
Nidaime Tsujita Ramen inside Mitsuwa Marketplace, 665 Paularino Ave., Costa Mesa, (714) 434-1101; www.mitsuwa.com