The Best Japanese Restaurant in Southern California – Restaurant Reviews #7 (Meiji Seimen) — Steemit

Restaurant:
Meiji Seimen
1113 Baker St Suite E
Costa Mesa, CA 92626

Hello and Welcome to another edition of Restaurant Reviews!
Today, we’re taking a look at a local Japanese Udon Shop that I consider to be one of the best Japanese Restaurants in all of Southern California.

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ABOUT THE RESTAURANT

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Meiji Seimen is a small Japanese hole-in-the-wall restaurant that specializes in udon and soba but also serves a variety of authentic, home-made dishes. The interior is comfortable and cozy and can probably seat around 27 people. Although many people don’t know about this restaurant, there can be a bit of a wait on busy nights due to the small interior. Meiji is, personally, one of my top 3 favorite restaurants in all of Southern California and is a hidden gem that can very well be considered one of the best Japanese restaurants in this area.

Onto the food…

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APPETIZERS

1. Takowasa ($3.50)

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Description:

Raw octopus with wasabi and wasabi zuke (wasabi pickles)

Review:

Meiji was actually the place I first tried this dish, and it instantly become one of my favorite appetizers. The octopus is fresh and soft and there’s a strong kick from the wasabi that’ll probably clear your sinuses. The flavor and crunch from the wasabi pickles really match well with the raw octopus and creates that textural balance I’m always looking for in dishes. If you’re a fan of sushi and raw dishes, you will definitely love this.

Result:

Simple, but flavorful and is also very cheap in price! 9.5/10.

2. Braised Pork Belly ($8)


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Description:

Pork Belly braised in a soy sauce marinade served with Japanese mustard, shishito pepper, and a soft boiled egg.

Review:

The runny yolk and the glistening fat on the pork belly says it all for this dish. The pork belly is fall apart tender and really just melts in your mouth as soon as it hits your tongue. The soy sauce marinade isn’t too salty and has the perfect amount of flavor to not detract too much from the natural umami flavor of the pork belly. Be prepared to fight for the egg though because there’s only half of one and it’s one of the best soft boiled eggs I’ve ever had.

Result:

Rich, fatty, and all sorts of good. 9/10.

3. Grilled Ox Tongue ($8)

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Description:

Thick slices of grilled ox tongue salted and topped with lemon and green onions.

Review:

A lot of people tend to be a bit wary of beef tongue, but it’s really one of the best parts of the cow. I really appreciated the thicker cuts of the tongue meat, and the texture had that nice meaty chew like a good piece of steak does. It was seasoned nicely and the lemon and green onions added a pleasant brightness to the dish. My only gripe with Meiji’s beef tongue was that I wish it had a bit more chargrilled and smoky taste to the meat like it does in some other restaurants I’ve been to that serve Beef Tongue.

Result:

Solid, but there’s probably other places that execute this dish a bit better. 8/10.

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ENTREES

1. Karaage (Fried) Chicken Bowl ($5)

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Description:

Japanese fried chicken marinated in soy sauce, sake, ginger, and garlic served with rice, pickled red ginger, and shishito peppers.

Review:

As most of us probably have, I’ve tried a lot of fried chicken in my life, and I still feel safe in saying that this is one of the best fried chicken I’ve ever had. The batter is light and crunchy and the meat, from the marinade, is super juicy and tender inside. There’s a slightly sweet soy sauce that’s poured over the chicken and rice that enhances the taste of the marinade and brings out that umami flavor. Absolutely the best Karaage Chicken I’ve ever had.

Result:

Just get this. You won’t regret it. 10/10.
P.S. Make sure to get the rice bowl and not the just the Karaage Chicken (they’re both good, but a bit different and I personally like the chicken in the rice bowl more)

2. Nabeyaki Udon ($12.50)

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Description:

Hot Udon Noodle soup served in a clay pot with greens, fish cake, shiitake mushroom, shrimp tempura, chicken thigh, and a poached egg.

Review:

This is the perfect thing to eat when you’re sick or it’s cold outside because it’s the type of dish that warms your heart (and stomach) like a nice cup of hot cocoa on a rainy day does. Be careful though because this bowl comes out piping hot in the clay pot.

The soup is pleasant and flavorful and has a more traditional fish-stock like taste from the dashi. There’s a lot of bits and pieces of things in the noodle soup like chicken, shrimp tempura, and greens, but the real unexpected star is the shiitake mushroom. The mushroom has a very real explosion of flavor that is a bit meaty, and very aromatic. I wish the udon came with more of those mushrooms because that mushroom may very well be the definition of umami.

Result:

If you want a ‘feel-good’ home-y, hearty dish, I highly recommend this. 9/10.

3. Curry Udon ($10)

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Description:

Hot Udon Noodles in a runny curry sauce with onions, greens, tofu skin, and slices of beef.

Review:

My first reaction to this dish was wow. I was thinking that this would just taste like traditional Japanese curry with udon noodles instead of rice, but the flavor was actually completely surprising. The sauce was lighter and more runny than traditional Japanese curry but still managed to remain flavorful and hearty. The udon noodles had that ‘bouncy’ texture, and the slices of beef added some meaty flavor to the curry sauce. I know I already said that they had a few of the best things ever, but this is undoubtedly the best curry udon I’ve ever had.

Result:

Best Curry Udon Around. 9.5/10.

4. Shigure Soba ($10.50)

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Description:

Cold Soba Noodles with Minced Pork, Grated Radish, and Alfalfa Sprouts

Review:

Before Meiji, I didn’t even know these types of dishes existed in Japanese cuisine, but I’m glad to have discovered them because the shigure soba here is one of my favorite dishes at this restaurant. This soba has the perfect balance between the meatiness of the minced pork, and the refreshing light taste of the grated radish. The sauce seems to be ponzu based and has an amazing depth of flavor when added to the minced pork. Even though it’s a cold dish, it’s somehow able to replicate the hearty meat flavors normally found in hot dishes while still being light and refreshing.

Result:

So simple, but so good. 10/10.

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OVERALL RATING

Meiji Seimen was a restaurant my girlfriend and I just kind of stumbled into without expecting too much, but it completely blew us away. When we first tried this place, it seemed like only local Japanese people ate at this spot, but there seem to be more and more people coming to this restaurant every day. I’ve recommended this spot to all of my friends and they all agree that Meiji serves some of the best Japanese food you can find in Southern California. If you’re ever in the area, I highly recommend you check this place out.

Meiji Seimen was a restaurant my girlfriend and I just kind of stumbled into without expecting too much, but it completely blew us away. When we first tried this place, it seemed like only local Japanese people ate at this spot, but there seem to be more and more people coming to this restaurant every day. I’ve recommended this spot to all of my friends and they all agree that Meiji serves some of the best Japanese food you can find in Southern California. If you’re ever in the area, I highly recommend you check this place out.

Food: 9.5/10
Service: 8/10
Value: 9.5/10

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