My Meal Cost: $15.87 plus tip. Health Rating A. Yelp 4 stars
The Lovely Mrs. C is out of town visiting her sister in Northern California. So I have a few days to explore and catch up on some personal stuff as well as completing a "honey do" list given me before she left (did I remember to water? hmmmm). Since the heat spell of last week seems to have subsided for the moment, I decided to try a place that I had been intrigued by for some time.
Onishicho is located on Foothill Blvd, between Garey and Towne (which it has to be to be included as being in Pomona) just across the street from Mr. D's Diner (a future entry I'm sure). This is in an old fast food place that had, and still has, a drive-thru window. The signage makes that name hard to figure out since they've replaced the "i's" with a knife and fork and the "o" with a clock face. Confusing and intriguing. But since Ramen is an old standbye on a cold day it seemed to be a good idea even for a day that, while not cold, is at least not hot.
The interior has booths and tables and is nicely appointed if not really fancy. There are some Japanese elements around the room but the soft drink dispenser in the dining room makes it immediately feel as if it's an order at the counter type of place. But it's not! Upon being seated "take a seat anywhere" you're brought a menu.
When I arrived at about 12:30 on a Saturday afternoon, about half a dozen tables were occupied. By the time I was finished about 1:30, the place was empty.
On yelp there were comments about the wait staff not speaking English. I must say that my waitress seemed to struggle with language, but a little patience and the right attitude created a good experience. Just be prepared, it might mean pointing at the photos in the menu and gesticulating options, let it be part of the fun.
Perusing the menu, it is mostly Ramen dishes with a number of appetizers such as gyoza, tempura, and spring rolls. They also have bentos (a divided Japanese "lunch box" with a variety of items, which would have been my go-to for lunch but for this post I wanted to try the ramen). The ramen's can be customized with extra toppings or taken as-is. Some have flat noodles, some have straight noodles, some have wavy noodles and some you can specify which type of noodle.
Since this was my first time there, I decided to go with a combination which included any style ramen, fried rice, and a salad. I also ordered diet coke. There are other combinations as well. For my ramen, I chose spicy miso. There are also vegetarian options including a veggie ramen.
First came the salad. A nice mixture of greens with small pieces of tofu and tomato tossed with a somewhat sweet creamy sesame dressing. One of the condiments on the table was a shaker of sesame seeds so I was able to add extra sesame but it wouldn't be required, it was quite good as it came. Also on a separate plate was a mound of fried rice with a small amount of pickled ginger. The rice was a little bland and a little dry. However it did make a good counterpoint to the ramen, so it worked.
The ramen had tofu, really tender chunks of beef, green onion, corn, bamboo shoots, thin pieces of some kind of mushroom, and a boiled egg which had been soaked in soy sauce, giving it a gray color (one person on yelp called this an old rotten egg, but it's just not something you might be used to, and the color could be off-putting, but it was quite good, with a little saltiness). This one came with straight noodles and a large piece of nori (dried seaweed).
The ramen was quite good. It would have been a little too spicy for the Lovely Mrs. C, but I didn't find it uncomfortably hot. Everything blended and eating the noodles and toppings the heat was very background, however, using the spoon to drink some of the soup, it was spicy enough to send me to the fried rice or pickled ginger for a cool down.
Knowing that, unlike Italian spaghetti, you're supposed to slurp ramen noodles, I did so (you always want to be culturally correct whenever possible), which makes it a lot easier to eat with chop sticks.
They have a drive-thru for to-go orders, or they will deliver, for when you just have to have that ramen fix. I anticipate that this will be a place that I will return on a cold rainy day for the comfort of steaming hot soup/ramen.