They’re starting off on the right foot because Ikkousha Ramen started off with tiny bowls of ramen which was a lot smaller than probably almost all their competitors, yet they still managed to charge $9. “Smaller than the rest, but cost more than even the best” should have been their tagline, but that approach potentially didn’t go off so well. So a year later that price came down just like it did with Mizuki, Yotaro, and some other places that started off with pricey ramen that came up short of their high priced aspirations.
“Getting it right from the beginning can never beat first impressions because people aren’t so critical of you if price yourself reasonably. “
The sad part is that these businesses that start high, and later reduce themselves solely to price point by pricing their ramen extremely cheap at happy hour are doing themselves in. I say that because if you can get something at 50% off or ridiculously low prices like $3.99-$5.00 (vs. your normal prices of $8-12) during happy hour, why would you ever want to pay the higher price, well you don’t. Seeing this sort of tactic, you might sense their desperation in trying to get people in solely on the premise of cheap ramen which is not the way to do it, and when businesses do that, they’re most likely hurting for business (think of some of the businesses on Groupon). Cutting your margin to go for volume isn’t the sort of Hail Mary that is going to save them, and it should be no surprise to you that both of the places I was referring to are no longer in business.
Luckily Menya Keishi didn’t go down that path because they priced their product right from the start like an OG. Getting it right from the beginning can never beat first impressions because people aren’t so critical of you if price yourself reasonably.
This space was originally and for a quite some time Bentoss a bento (from Japan) box take-out restaurant, so the spot is tiny because the original place wasn’t a dine in sort of spot. What both businesses did do was make good use of space which the Japanese are pro’s at because a broom closet here in the states is the space reserved for “dining for two” in Japan.
The same branding and graphics get carried on over from Ikkousha, but beyond that, they knew how to define their store front with large signage that you can’t miss when the main draw here in the area is Mitsuwa Market.
The shoyu ramen fell short of my hopeful expectations although they did have a good choice of noodle, properly prepared chicken (not overcooked), but the menma didn’t match and the broth was not a memorable one. It was not totally horrendous, but I’d rather pay an extra 1.40 or $2 more for one of the other good ramen shops in the area. Within a couple of block radius which is in walking distance (like anybody walks), you have Ikkousha (across the street), Santouka (next door), and Zetton (a little over a block away).
“The average price of ramen in the area is $8.50, so if you want to carve out a new market which is on par with the pricing meant for the masses like most fast food chains do, you’ll do what Menya Keishi did.”
The Price is Right
Live to eat, or eat to live? As for me, it’s live to eat, but many people just eat to live. They can eat the same thing day in, day out which is why the price can be critical when positioning yourself in a crowded ramen market. Appealing to a large part of the market where they’re price conscientious is an opportune opportunity when the average price of ramen in the area is $8.50. So if you want to carve out a new market which is on par with the pricing meant for the masses as most fast food chains do, you’ll do what Menya Keishi did. They’re on part with the Flame Broiler which charges on average $6.65-7.25, In’n’Out $5.65-$6.70, and Chipotle $6.50-$7.50 to name a few, and the only thing that can thwart their plans is how well the product is received and how the parking works out. That small lot can get really congested during peak hours/days because of Mitsuwa and the other businesses that are their immediate neighbors.
The Noodle Competition
What is Menya Keishi up against? Not just ramen, but noodle restaurants in general. I know there’s a huge influx of ramen spots, and I love ramen, but it’s a high-carb meal. Throw in some gyoza and some fried rice, and you have carb upon carb. That sort of diet is maybe why that Greek Adonis-like physique I have wanted has alluded me for several years. With that many carbs and most likely a healthy dose of sodium, ramen isn’t the best dining options for us supposedly health-conscious Californians, but in Mississippi, they’ll have seconds.
To add to that, this is California, and we have noodles from all around the world. Some of my favorites are pho (Vietnamese), bun bo hue (Vietnamese), hu tieu (Vietnamese), boat noodle soup (Thai), beef noodle soup (Taiwanese), and galbitang (Korean, not really noodles, but it’s a soup with some noodles) which only account for my Asian noodle intake. Throw in pasta/Italian, and you stack any of those up against Menya Keishi, and you just might say fuhgeddaboutit.
Pros: The price, a nicely done interior, and the potential convienence of being a quick spot to drop in a grab some ramen (that’s if the parking isn’t an issue).
Cons: The small parking lot can potentially be a parking issue and the lackluster broth (I only tried the shoyu, but I’ll try others soon).
Type of Ramen Offered: chicken based broth with shoyu, shio, miso, spicy miso, or tsukemen.
Address: 675 Paularino Avenue, Suite C, Costa Mesa, CA 92626
Yelp: 4 stars, 96 reviews