Marufuku Ramen, the Bay Area’s well-known purveyor of authentic Japanese ramen, featuring a silky, smooth, 20-hour Hakata-style broth, has recently opened a new location in Irvine’s Los Olivos Marketplace.
While Orange County is already supplied with a wealth of top-notch ramen joints, Marufuku’s approach differs when it comes to the Hakata-style tonkotsu broth, which is the centerpiece of the entire Marufuku experience.
The attention to detail at Marufuku does not end with the broth, but rather begins. One slurp, and you will understand.
The key process behind Marufuku’s luscious tonkotsu broth is a 20-hour cook time. In order to fully extract the umami flavor, this authentic broth is made by slow boiling pork bones. This slow-cooking process results in a combination of oily broth featuring a thick, milky layer of umami.
Filling a ramen spoon with this broth will showcase the different layers of fat and umami intermingling as clear and dark layers that seem to glimmer with every shift of movement. If you look closely, you can find shiny bubbles of flavor that will reflect back at you, just before disappearing in a satisfying mouthful of decadence.
Swimming in this thick hakata-style broth are specially selected “ultra-thin artisanal noodles.” Here, guests can dictate their own experience from the style of ramen, to the choice of protein and even the firmness of the noodle itself.
The two main protein choices on Marufuku’s menu are chashu pork and chicken paitan. The melt-in-your-mouth chashu pork, which is simmered pork belly, provides a much richer mouth-feel, and all-around more fatty flavor.
If you go, a trusted order would consist of Marufuku’s fried squid legs, known as Geso Fry, served with a delightful mayo, followed up by the popular Hakata Tonkotsu, featuring chashu pork, a seasoned soft boiled egg, green onions, kikurage mushrooms and bean sprouts.
If you like spice, you can go medium spice and get extra spices on the side. The spice served is cayenne pepper, which does not alter the flavor of the food.
Originally opened in San Francisco, Marufuku Ramen is the product of Bay Area natives Eiichi Mochizuki and Koji Kiura. The new location becomes the fifth, and the only Southern California-based location for the Marufuku chain.
“I am extremely proud of our team’s ability to execute this restaurant opening, even in the most unpredictable times,” Mochizuki said. “We look forward to serving Southern California with our Hakata-style-Ramen!”
Quietly opened in December, patrons have not been able to get the true, sit-down ramen experience anywhere recently. Now, as Orange County reopens in the Orange Tier, Marufuku at the Los Olivos Marketplace location offers plenty of outdoor seating, and indoor capacity is expected to be increasing as regulations ease.
Sitting in Marufuku’s patio under the tall palm trees lining the Los Olivos Marketplace, it dawned on me that this giant bowl of amazingly delicious ramen was the first sit-down ramen experience I’ve had in more than a year.
Overwhelmed by the flavor of the broth upon first bite, I looked at this over-sized bowl of ramen piled with huge slabs of pork belly, and a soft simmer egged. I wondered how I would finish this gigantic portion – embarrassed that I might have taken on more than I could chew.
Then I realized – the ramen was so delicious it actually made me forget for a split second – that to-go containers existed.