Super Corokke - Costa Mesa
This hole-in-the-wall is one of those places where pretentiousness is non-existent, and the food speaks for itself. The lady that owns it operates it. She's taking orders up front and giving them to a few hispanic women in the back who, in turn, faithfully churn out good grub to the steady stream of loyal patrons. Make no bones about it, it's no Shinsengumi. Expect no flash or pizazz. Instead, you will get consistency and comfort food.
The restaurant itself barely seats 10. Stacks of tattered Japanese magazines leans precariously on one corner. Condiments of various bottled sauces are grouped together in bundles on each table. Pepper, hot chili paste, salt, soy...the usual suspects, but most importantly, tonkatsu sauce. This vaguely sweet, sour and pungent sauce has the tang of Lea and Perrins, the depth of soy, and the consistency of syrup. You use it for Super Corokke's namesake dish, corokke. Corokke, is a breaded potato patty which is filled with all kinds of goodness, which is then deep fried.
I got the Corokke Combination to go recently. Simply a mound of hot rice, a salad consisting of iceberg lettuce and citrusy soy dressing, a macaroni salad laced with a tangy mayonnaise and corn nibblets, and a choice of two corokkes. I chose the Popeye, which had a filling of spinach and bacon, and the Curry, which had ground beef with curry. The corokkes were plucked out of the heat lamp case by the owner as soon as the kitchen staff got my rice and fixings ready. A bowl of miso soup also got packed with the meal. Total? $4.80 plus tax. Some tonkatsu sauce and chili paste came packaged with my order.
Now, it's not a spectacular meal mind you. This is definitely not going to blow your socks off. The corokkes are admittedly bland until you dunk it in hot sauce and squirt a little of the tonkatsu sauce. But with every bite, you kind of get addicted and suddenly you want more. One of these days, I'm going to take advantage of their "After 8 pm, 50% off offer", where every corokke is half price 30 minutes before they close up. That amounts to 50 cents per corokke.
They have other items I still need to try. I was drooling over superb looking rice bowls and noodles that other diners were noshing.
675 Paularino Ave
Costa Mesa, CA 92626
UPDATE: Sometime in the Spring of 2006, the owner of Super Corokke, the nice woman I spoke of in this post, passed away. The space has since been occupied by a new Japanese take-out place called Bentoss.