Marufuku Ramen, the Bay Area’s well-known supplier of authentic Japanese ramen with a silky, smooth 20-hour Hakata-style broth, recently opened a new location on the Los Olivos Marketplace in Irvine.
While Orange County is already stocked with an abundance of top-notch ramen joints, Marufuku’s approach differs when it comes to the Hakata-style tonkotsu broth that is at the heart of the entire Marufuku experience.
The attention to detail at Marufuku doesn’t end with the broth, it begins. One sip and you will understand.
The key process behind Marufuku’s luscious tonkotsu broth is a 20-hour cook time. To fully extract the umami flavor, this authentic broth is made from slow-boiling pork bones. This slow cooking process results in a combination of an oily broth with a thick, milky layer of umami.
When you fill a ramen spoon with this broth, the various layers of fat and umami are presented as clear and dark layers that seem to shimmer with every movement. If you look carefully, you can find shiny taste bubbles reflecting in you just before they disappear in a satisfying sip of decadence.
Specially selected “ultra-thin artisanal noodles” float in this thick Hakata-style broth. Here the guests can determine their own experiences, from the ramen style to the choice of protein and the firmness of the pasta.
The two main proteins on Marufuku’s menu are chashu pork and chicken paitan. Melt-in-the-mouth chashu pork, which is made from boiled pork belly, has a much richer mouthfeel and an all-round greasier taste.
If you go, a trustworthy order is marufuku fried squid legs known as geso fry, served with a delicious mayo, followed by the popular hakata tonkotsu with chashu pork, a seasoned soft-boiled egg, spring onions, kikurage mushrooms, and bean sprouts.
If you like spices, you can go medium-flavored and get extra condiments on the side. The spice is cayenne pepper, which does not change the taste of the food.
Originally opened in San Francisco, Marufuku Ramen is the product of Bay Area indigenous people, Eiichi Mochizuki and Koji Kiura. The new location is the fifth and the only location in Southern California for the Marufuku chain.
“I am very proud of the ability of our team to make this restaurant opening even at unpredictable times,” said Mochizuki. “We look forward to serving Southern California with our Hakata-style ramen!”
The guests, who quietly opened in December, haven’t been able to experience the true ramen experience while sitting anywhere recently. Now that Orange County reopens at the Orange Tier, Marufuku has plenty of outdoor seating at Los Olivos Marketplace and indoor capacity is expected to increase as regulations ease.
As I sat on Marufuku’s terrace under the tall palm trees in Los Olivos market square, I realized that this huge bowl of incredibly delicious ramen was the first ramen experience in more than a year.
Overwhelmed by the taste of the broth on the first bite, I looked at this oversized bowl of ramen stacked with giant pork belly platters and a soft simmer. I wondered how I was going to finish this gigantic serving – embarrassed that I would have accepted more than I could chew.
Then I realized – the ramen were so delicious that I forgot about them for a split second – that there were to-go containers.