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By Collin Breaux | Twitter: @collin_breaux

Based on the reactions of Hiro Yamanouchi and Joshua Cheng, Ramen Shack is a resounding success.

The new restaurant opened in downtown San Juan Capistrano on Thursday at 31761 Camino Capistrano, on the northwest corner of Camino Capistrano and Verdugo Street. Service during the soft opening was dine-in only. A line of about a dozen people waited outside before the doors opened, and quickly filled most of the tables after their orders were taken. More customers gradually dropped by and had to wait for seats to open up.

Ramen Shack offers numerous ramen dishes, including the Quiet Storm. Photo: Collin Breaux

Cheng, from Irvine, said the food is “amazing.”

“You can really tell the amount of time and effort he puts into making his ramen,” Cheng said. “It’s an amazing craft, and I’m so proud he’s able to create such a great bowl of ramen.”

Cheng, who ate with Yamanouchi, heard about the opening through social media.

“It reminds me of Japan. They have one of the best dipping noodles I’ve had,” Yamanouchi, from Los Angeles, said. “I can tell the noodles are homemade. They have a lot of texture—nice and warm. Rich broth.”

Hiro Yamanouchi (left) and Joshua Cheng enjoy ramen bowls during Ramen Shack’s soft opening on Thursday, Sept. 16. Photo: Collin Breaux

The ramen spot has been anticipated by ramen enthusiasts and members of the local community for the past few months as word got out about the coming eatery. Ramen Shack is owned by chef and Orange County native Keizo Shimamoto, who stayed busy Thursday preparing orders.

Shimamoto honed his craft in Japan and New York before opening Ramen Shack, developing a dish called the Ramen Burger. The Ramen Burger attracted attention on social media, and is essentially what it sounds like—a beef patty placed between two ramen noodle buns.

Besides the Ramen Burger, other menu items at the new restaurant include the Quiet Storm (which includes a 13-ingridient broth, soy sauce, and spinach) and Capistrano Miso (featuring a soy milk broth, tofu, and scallions).

Hungry customers fill up the bar at Ramen Shack during the restaurant’s soft opening on Thursday, Sept. 16. Photo: Collin Breaux

“I remember coming here for field trips in elementary school, going to the Mission. There’s kind of a special place here. I always remembered it as a kid, even driving down the 5 (Freeway),” Shimamoto said in June during an interview with The Capistrano Dispatch. “To move back here and come see how the town is growing and you have all these really nice restaurants—Heritage and Mayfield—I instantly felt like, oh, this could be the next culinary destination.”

Ramen Shack’s opening means yet another new restaurant in the downtown area, which is quickly becoming a diverse culinary hub. Irish pub Paddy’s Station, the bakery FKN Bread, and barbecue spot Heritage Barbecue have all opened downtown within the past year or so, among other places.

Soft opening hours vary for now. Ramen Shack opens at 4 p.m. on weekdays and 11 a.m. on weekends. The restaurant is at Capistrano Plaza, which is owned by local developer and resident Dan Almquist. Visit ramenshack.com for more information.

Collin Breaux covers San Juan Capistrano and other South Orange County news as the City Editor for The Capistrano Dispatch. Before moving to California, he covered Hurricane Michael, politics and education in Panama City, Florida. He can be reached by email at cbreaux@picketfencemedia.com.

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