LOCATION: 2073 W Avenue K, Lancaster, CA 93536
During my most recent business trip out to California, my friend Angel was talking about a new ramen place that had recently opened up in Lancaster called Ramen Boy. I had already been to two other ramen places in the area, so I was interested to give this new one a shot to test it out. One weeknight after work, my friends Shehzad, Hoang, and I were trying to eat at another place in town, but a 2.5 hour wait until their next available table deterred us from sticking around. Ramen Boy emerged as a viable backup plan, so we hopped back into our cars and headed that way.
The offerings on the Ramen Boy menu spanned from various types of ramen to rice bowls to Japanese small plates (gyoza, chicken katsu, edamame, etc.). The main ramen choices were based with either chicken broth or pork broth, with a large number of accompanying toppings available to help customize your ramen. I’ve recently been on more of a pork broth-based ramen kick, and that’s what led me to choose the Donkotsu Paitan, with toppings of pork char siu, soft-boiled egg, bean sprouts, scallions, wood ear mushrooms, seaweed, corn, and ginger.
Within the dining area, it was relatively spacious with an interesting setup: booths lining the two walls of the restaurant and then a racetrack-shaped bar top in the center that could accommodate up to 14 people. At the middle of this racetrack was an ornate artificial flower display, meant to replicate a Japanese cherry blossom tree. I thought that it was a nice touch, and complemented the décor on the walls already made in the traditional Japanese art style.
One other item we had also tagged onto our order was a plate of chicken karaage. At the other two local ramen restaurants I’d been to, I also ordered the chicken karaage to start things off. So to keep things consistent, I wanted to do the same thing at Ramen Boy. It didn’t take very long at all for the chicken to arrive from the kitchen, and being that we were pretty hungry, we wasted no time digging in.
This particular chicken karaage seemed like the individual pieces had been battered and then fried to a golden brown. For me personally, I felt like the chicken was battered probably a little too much; that off-balance proportion of batter to chicken made some of the pieces have more of a spongy texture than crispy. It’s not necessarily that the chicken tasted bad, but my impression of chicken karaage is that it should be nice and crispy bites of chicken. This particular rendition didn’t deliver for me.
Our ramen arrived at the table about midway through us eating the chicken karaage. In addition to what already came in my Donkotsu Paitan, I ordered an extra helping of pork char siu as well as some fried garlic chips. I guess it’s standard practice at the restaurant to serve those items on the side instead of directly within the ramen itself, so I transferred both the pork char siu and garlic chips into the bowl.
One sip of the broth told me just how much umami flavor was layered into the broth, the richness of it also soaking into the ramen noodles and other ingredients. I really enjoyed just how the pork char siu seemed to melt in your mouth, even without the broth having tenderized it even further. The extra helping was definitely the right call, and the garlic chips helped to provide an additional strong flavor to complement the existing umami flavor from the broth. Before long, my bowl was completely empty, certainly a sign of how satisfying the ramen was down to the last drop of broth.
As it turns out, we ended up seeing Angel and his wife Julie at the restaurant while we were there; it was funny the way things worked out. I think overall I left Ramen Boy with a pretty positive impression, with the closest comparison I could draw being Love Ramen, which is also in Lancaster. The ramen itself is fairly even between the two, but Love Ramen takes it on the chicken karaage and Ramen Boy wins on the pork char siu. With a chill ambiance and relatively reasonable pricing on the ramen bowls, Ramen Boy is a good addition to the local ramen scene that is worth checking out.
Let’s now take a look at the Ramen Boy Dish Spotlight. Asterisks (*) below mark my recommended dishes.
** Donkotsu Paitan **
Pork broth with ramen noodles, pork char siu, soft-boiled egg, bean sprouts, scallions, wood ear mushrooms, seaweed, corn, and red ginger. Pictured with extra pork char siu and garlic chips.
And finally, here are my rankings for Ramen Boy:
Food: 4 / 5
The ramen itself was pretty good, with good depth of flavor and a nice array of toppings that definitely made it feel like a hearty bowl of food. There is also a good selection of different options to choose from, based on both pork broth and chicken broth. But the chicken karaage missed the mark for me, which dragged this rating down a bit.
Atmosphere: 4 / 5
The inside of the restaurant itself was decorated pretty nicely, culminating in the artificial cherry blossom tree centerpiece in the middle of the dining space. The table layout did leave a lot of open space in the middle of the dining area, but that appeared to allow for the waitstaff to use a handcart to deliver food to each of the tables.
Service: 4 / 5
Our waiter did stop by the table a few times throughout the meal to check and see how we were doing. From a food standpoint, I thought that it didn’t take very long for our stuff to be prepared and come out from the kitchen either.
Price: 4.75 / 5
All of the ramen bowls were priced right around $10, which I thought was very reasonable from a food perspective. The additions of my extra pork char siu and garlic chips brought the bowl to just over $12. The good-sized portions provided also helped bolster this rating a bit.