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.
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.
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.
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.