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Jul 27, 2006 04:46 PM

What is YOUR top ramen list?

In the shabu shabu topic, the discussion is digressing into ramen favorites. However, that is going to get lost there. So what are YOUR ramen favs?

... you might give Melanie some new ideas. Thoughts on places to avoid would be useful too.

Melanie Wong's List

Porthos List

My List

1. Original Ramen @ Ryowa Ramen House, Berkeley

OK, so I only tried one bowl so far ...

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  1. My top 5:
    1, Halu
    2, Halu
    3, Halu
    4, Halu
    5, Halu

    1. Ramen hit its popularity fad with me a few years ago, back when Ryowa MV was really really good (and now they've gone downhill). This is the same with other fads like bubble/pearl milk tea, where the bubble literally has burst and the market quite saturated.

      I remember when I first started getting into this 6 years ago, there weren't as many ramen shops as there are today. Everyone else seems to be trying really hard to cash in on the fad since, or offer their own special bowl but sadly only a handful of those efforts are worth the while.

      I don't have a ranking, but these are ones that I still like:

      Maruichi - from the group of folks who brought us Sushi Maru, Sushi Tomi/Tomi Sushi and Hana. I remember when they first opened they had a rough start. Until they offered kuro ramen this was not worth the while. Earlier this year they had a limited offering of a spicy aka (red) miso ramen that was quite decent. I give them extra points for the latest cold noodle offering which is rather refreshing. The Milpitas branch is not worth the visit.

      Do Henkotsu (Tokushima) - I admit I'm biased with this place, even though I went earlier this week and their standards slipped. I've been going here since they opened in was it 2001 or 2002. I do appreciate what they are doing, which is quite different than the usual place. They even offer their own take of Chinese dishes (stir fried pork with leeks/vegetables etc), and their menu keeps expanding. Niku Iri (must be pork belly strips) or spare rib ramen is always my staple. I fondly refer to this place amongst my cohorts as "bacon ramen".

      Santa - probably been around the longest of all the ramen-ya's. Broth is their forte here. Tonkotsu broth is always great, but I hate the pink ginger. Not too huge on the noodles which are more like cappellini. Their cha shiu is terrible, and roasted pork isn't anywhere as good as other places. My current fave is the curry ramen. The long wait and small kitchen (1 man operation with 2 helpers doing side dishes) = a horrendous wait during peak hours for a bowl of ramen. This bumps it down to #3 and lower if I were meaner. For the same amount of wait, you could drive down to Maruichi, perhaps head over to Himawari, and maybe even Halu and perhaps score a table and perhaps even finish munching on a bowl and still come back to Santa and laugh at the people in line!

      Halu - I think I've only been maybe 4 times tops. Nice place, and while it might be worthy of #1 title, it still falls so short of ramen from other parts of the world.

      If anyone plans on traveling anytime soon to these geographical locations:

      Waikiki - if these two ramen-ya's are still around, hit up Tenkaippin for the chicken kotteri ramen heart stopping goodness, and the one across the street from there (for Sapporo style ox tail ramen). I'm sure there are other good ramen-ya's on the strip or nearby.

      Shin Yokohama Ramen Museum in Japan (Yokohama) - maybe not the best ramen in all of Japan, but if you're a ramen freak you have to check this place out. Multiple styles from various regions/prefectures. Exhibit on first floor, and goodies in the basement.

      The above 2 or 3 world spots might not represent the ultimate best in ramen, but will give you an idea what the Bay Area is lacking. So depending on your perspective, if you like what we have don't travel and eat ramen elsewhere :-)

      1. 1. Santa-I love a fatty, rich broth.
        2. Himawari-Their shio broth is strong.
        3. Maruichi-Not my favorite, but my grandma and I like the booths, kimchee, and watching the noodle maker.
        4. Minca (nyc)-Re-opens for a late night shift and has an interesting menu with some other ramen options.
        Want to try-Do Henkotsu.

        My ramen list on yelp-

        1. Okay, so my ramen ranking list would be less by shop and more by bowl. Also, I don't really get to SJ so have never gone to Halu. And I think my list reflects more my own personal hankerings and palate than trying to subjective about whose bowl is more traditional, etc. So IMHO:

          1. Asari shio ramen @ Himawari
          2. Original ramen @ Ryowa, MV
          3. Tonkotsu ramen @ Santa (the stewed pork isn't great tho with it)
          4. Crab Omlette with shoyu broth ramen @ Himawari
          5. Shio with stewed pork ramen @ Himawari
          6. Pork ramen @ BY Grill (don't know if they do this anymore)
          7. Miso ramen @ Maru-ichi, MV
          8. Tonkotsu ramen with stewed pork @ GEN Ramen
          9. Miso ramen with extra spicy @ Santa
          10. Tonkotsu ramen @ Himawari
          11. Miso ramen @ Santa
          12. Miso ramen @ Suzu
          13. Kyushu ramen @ Tanpopo

          These are just horrible....
          14. Mabo tofu ramen @ Suzu
          15. Miso ramen @ Iroha
          16. Miso ramen @ Hotei
          17. BBQ Ribs and Kim chee ramen @ Ramen Club
          18. Miso ramen @ Mama-san

          2 Replies
          1. re: vliang

            interesting. i like the mabo tofu ramen at suzu. but it might be because i don't think of it as a "real" ramen but a different dish -- the mabo sauce completely overpowers the broth. i like the noodles there, and i have never had any alkaline effect (that others have reported) when eating there.

            i went to genki ramen when they first opened well over a year ago. i thought the soup wasn't very good and noodles were soft and plain -- overall not very noteworthy. maybe they have changed. i didn't like BY Grill either -- it didn't taste like a "Japanese" ramen -- maybe because of the noodles.

            i like oyaji ramen -- i don't think of it as exceptional, but very good noodles and soup. There are a couple new ramen places on Geary in outer richmond past park presidio. i remember not liking any of them -- again, thick noodles which aren't my type.

            still looking for a good ramen place in san francisco. nothing is as good as santa, himawari or ryowa. i like katana-ya and oyaji. sapporo-ya is not very good and tampopo is just okay. definitely want to try the new sozai.

            1. re: cornflower55

              genki's strength is definitely their crepes

          2. How is this for the perfect ramen-shabu segue?

            "GENKI RAMEN and SHABU" opening soon on the north side of Geary between 3rd and 4th Aves.

            6 Replies
            1. re: TomG

              I was on 3rd ave drinking just the other night and didn't see that. Are you sure it was between 3rd and 4th? I must have been standing right in front of it.

              1. re: umetaro

                Yep! Drinking on 3rd Ave will do that to you. The storefront that previously rented Korean videos. Now has a 30 foot "Grand Opening" banner. Damn I'm glad I didn't say observant, intelligent,etc.

                1. re: TomG

                  Ah, I saw it on my way home. I tend to ignore those "grand opening" banners... the chinese restaurant next to my house has been "grand opening" for the last four months. Also, I'm sure if it said "sushi" anywhere on the sign I would have spotted it immediately.

                  1. re: umetaro

                    Another new Japanese(apparently non sushi)restaurant is scheduled to open in the old WeBeSushi/BY location this Saturday.

                  2. re: TomG

                    Hey TomG,
                    Did you happen to pass by and check out whatever replaced BY?

                    1. re: umetaro

                      We were going to try it last night, the remodel looked inviting, but the menu was suspect, opted for Indian. Will do lunch there latter this week.