Restaurant of the Week: Onishicho

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Onishicho, 504 E. Foothill Blvd. (at Sumner), Pomona

I remember Onishicho when it was Classic 66 Burgers, where I ate a downscale Sunday afternoon lunch a decade ago and from my booth half-watched a reality show on the TV mounted behind the counter. The restaurant, midway between Towne and Garey avenues on Foothill, later became a Chinese fast-food spot, with two or three iterations, one of them gone in the wink of an eye.

Since 2015 it’s been Onishicho, a Japanese restaurant specializing in ramen. This is why we love the crazy-quilt of Southern California, where otherwise-bland restaurant buildings can prove endlessly adaptable depending on the tenants or market forces. Reader Megan Gearhart alerted me to the latest incarnation and said it was doing a brisk business.

On a cold, rainy night last week, I was driving home, thought it’d be a perfect night for ramen and made for Pomona. I pulled into the lot, stepped inside and was shown to a booth that may have been the one I sat in a few years earlier.

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The interior has been cleaned up and made over considerably. It may be a little stark and brightly lit, but Japanese fans, lanterns and umbrellas add color, as do green vertical blinds.

The menu consists mostly of ramen and teriyaki, no sushi. I asked the difference between the No. 1, Tonkotsu Ramen, and the No. 2, Tonkotsu Shoyu Ramen, and was told the second one was saltier. (A friend subsequently told me “shoyu” means “soy sauce.”) I went with No. 1 ($8) and the straight noodle recommended by the server.

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The bowl arrived with slices of pork belly, green onions, a hard-boiled egg, pickled ginger and the noodles in broth, throwing off steam. I’ve had ramen only three or four times before, in Little Tokyo, on Sawtelle, at Noodle World Jr. and, recently, in Chinatown at the well-regarded Ramen Champ. Onishicho’s broth did not rival Ramen Champ’s, although I don’t have the expertise to tell you why, but there’s no need to set the bar that high. This was good ramen, close to home.

It was filling too: There was an option to get a combo with curry rice or teriyaki, and at first I regretted not getting the latter. But after draining the bowl, I was full.

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Service was polite and friendly; my server, eyeing my humble glass of water, insisted on bringing me a cup of hot matcha tea, and it was good. I expect to return.

I’m fairly sure there is no other place specializing in ramen in the Inland Valley, and to find this in Pomona, in a former fast-food outlet on old Route 66, is a bonus.

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  • DebB

    Thanks for reviewing this place. I keep seeing it as I drive by, and wondering what it’s like. I’ll try it soon!

    • davidallen909

      You’re welcome. You were the first one to point it out to me, and I don’t think it had opened yet.

      • DebB

        I finally tried Onishicho yesterday with my niece, and we both enjoyed it! We both had the Tonkotsu Ramen – she had straight noddles, I had wavy – and both went away happily full. I liked the coconut-y broth, the ginger and, surprisingly (to me), the egg. I wasn’t quite as excited about the pork belly. The free gyoza appetizer was pretty good, too. I’ll definitely go back and try more items!

        • davidallen909

          Hey, I didn’t get a free gyoza! (But I did get free green tea.)

  • John Clifford

    Inspired by your weekly restaurant reports, and having a good deal of lunches that I can eat out, I’ve decided to start a lunch dining blog. It’s a little bit different as I’ll be dining each week at an establishment on Garey Avenue in Pomona. I’m starting from the south and my first entry is on the southern-most eatery on Garey at the 60/71 Freeways, In-N-Out.

    If interested, you can follow my exploits at: http://eatinggarey.blogspot.com/

    • davidallen909

      You’re off to a good start. Keep it up! When you get to Samo’s or DeAnda or Mexico Lindo, you can leave your links as comments on my own restaurant posts on them.