Halloween 2006 - Pumpkin Ramen @ Halu in San Jose
With some business to take care of in the South Bay on Friday, I gave Ramen Halu a call to see if the pumpkin ramen might repeat for Halloween this year. Yes, the pumpkin ramen is the special through the end of the month, only 20 orders available at lunch and again at dinner time.
Arriving at 1:30pm, Halu was busier than I've seen it for a long time. Of course, I was worried that it had already sold through and I was girding myself for begging for some of the noodles allocated for dinner time. But no worries, supply was not a problem. Again, most of the lunchers seemed to be getting their "usual" and ignoring the pumpkin special. I ordered the "large" for $9.50, asked to add an egg to that, and my server explained that wasn't necessary since half an egg was already included (though not mentioned on the menu description). Glad I asked and got this piece of info, as my bowl was served sans egg though readily corrected when I pointed out the error.
The composition was a little different from 2004's edition. Instead of a chunk of stewed kabocha, a couple fried kabocha chips add crackle to the toppings, plus the addition of the luscious seasoned egg half. The noodles were the thick Halu ramen variety cooked a bit softer than usual. The broth, again a combination of pork, chicken and seaweed stocks, was richer and heavier, much more distinctly porcine with a meaty sweetness. The shaved onions were sweeter and less strong this time. Dotted with clingy bits of melted parmesan cheese, these had wonderful savoriness and juicy crunch that contrasted beautifully with the natural sweetness and tenderness of the pumpkin noodles. The corn niblets sauteed in butter had a good carmelized sear for more flavor.
But enough deconstruction, all in all, a gorgeous bowl of soup noodles that I enjoyed to the very last drop. Don't miss it this year!
Image of pumpkin ramen -
PERSONAL RAMEN RANKING
1. Ramen Halu, 375 Saratoga Ave Ste M, San Jose
2. Santa, 805 S B St, San Mateo
3. Ryowa, 2068 University Ave, Berkeley
4. Himawari, 202 2nd Ave, San Mateo
5. Maru Ichi, 368 Castro St, Mountain View
6. Ryowa, 859 Villa St, Mountain View
7. Tanto, 1063 E El Camino Real, Sunnyvale
8. Do-Henkotsu House of Tokushima Ramen, 4330 Moorpark Ave, San Jose
9. Gen Ramen, 47890 Warm Springs Blvd, Fremont
10.BY Grill, 3226 Geary Blvd, San Francisco (closed
)11.Norikonoko, 2556 Telegraph Ave, Berkeley
12.Hana, 4320 Moorpark, San Jose
13.Katanaya, 430 Geary Blvd., San Francisco
14.Masa's Sushi, 400 San Antonio Road, Mountain View
15.Gochi, 19980 Homestead Rd, Cupertino
16.Oyaji, 3123 Clement St, San Francisco
17.Maru Ichi, 530 Barber Lane, Milpitas
18.Hatcho, 1271 Franklin Mall, Santa Clara
19.Tomoe, 810 3rd St, San Rafael (closed)
20.Ringer Hut, 1072 Saratoga Ave, San Jose
21.Izakaya Mai, 212 2nd Avenue, San Mateo
22.Kumako, 211 E. Jackson Street, San Jose
23.Ramen Club, 723 California Dr, Burlingame
24.Tazaki Sushi, 3420 Judah St, San Francisco
25.Ramen Rama, 19774 Stevens Creek Blvd, Cupertino
26.Ogi-San Ramen, 10789 Blaney Ave, Cupertino
27.Kaimuki Grill, 104 S El Camino Real, San Mateo
28.Tanto, 1306 Saratoga Ave, San Jose
29.Okazu Ya SF (Noriega), 2445 Noriega St, San Francisco
30.King's Garden Ramen, 39055 Cedar Blvd, Newark (closed)
31.Sushi Bistro, 445 Balboa St, San Francisco
32.Mitsuwa Hokkaido festival booth, 675 Saratoga Ave, San Jose
33.Lakuni, 325 E 4th Ave, San Mateo
34.100% Healthy Desserts, 1155 Taraval St., San Francisco
35.Mifune, 1737 Post St, San Francisco
36.H2A Noodle, 42318 Fremont Blvd., Fremont
37.Iroha, 1728 Buchanan St, San Francisco
38.Miraku Noodles, 2131 N Broadway, Walnut Creek
39.Manpuku, 2977 College Ave, Berkeley
40.Tanpopo, 1740 Buchanan Street, San Francisco
41.Sushi Yoshi, 39261 Cedar Blvd, Newark
42.La Shang Niang Ramen (OEC), 42 Dixon Rd, Milpitas
43.Oidon, 71 E. 4th Avenue, San Mateo
44.Taraval Okazu Ya, 1735 Taraval St., San Francisco
45.Suzu Noodle House, 1581 Webster Street, San Francisco
46.Sapporo-ya, 1581 Webster St, San Francisco
47.Tokyo Ramen, 678 Barber Lane, Milpitas (closed)
48.Kamakura, 2549 Santa Clara Ave, Alameda
49.Mama-san!, 312 8th Ave, San Francisco
50.Katana-ya Ramen, 10546 San Pablo Ave, El Cerrito
51.Hotei, 1290 9th Ave, San Francisco
52.Bear's Ramen House, 2521 Durant, Berkeley
So I just got back from Ramen Halu to sample this year's pumpkin ramen. I found myself tonight without any dinner plans, so figured this was a good a time as any to sample the seasonal special. I got there about 10 minutes before 6, and already there were about a group of ten people waiting. I didn't really worry about not getting a seat, b/c I was dining solo, and usually the counter seats stay open so I read a magazine at my car.
The doors opened, and everyone streamed in. I quickly ordered, and soon my bowl came.
The ramen has already been aptly described by Melanie but I'll add in some extra thoughts. The egg, as usual was cooked the way I like it: the yolk golden with just a slight custarded texture meaning it hasn't been overcooked, and the egg white, soft and not rubbery. There are green and white onions in the broth. The white onions are not usually found in Halu's broths, but in the pumpkin ramen bowl, the bite and sweetness of the white onions, along with the sweetness of yellow corn, and the healthy mound of parmesan cheese, produces a nice mixture of sweet, salty flavors with creamy and crunchy textures in my mouth. Frequent diners will notice that the noodles aren't as firm as the Halu (their square-thick noodles) but they retained roughly the same texture the whole bowl through. All in all, a good bowl of noodles on a slightly cool, windy San Jose night.
Glad you enjoyed it! It was interesting to look back at the reports from 2005 and Carblover's photos. Last year the noodles were wider and fettucini-like. This time, the noodles are back to the way I had first had them in 2004, but cooked a bit softer.
I love Halu's egg. I always order it as part of my bowl. The amazing thing is how consistent it is, always that golden custardy yolk, the tender white, and the refinement of the seasoning.
re: Melanie Wong
I went to Ramen Halu this Saturday, so that my friend, who loves the pumpkin ramen, could get her fix this year. I had the Halu, but I also always order the egg, and was again taken by how fabulous and custardy it was.
The idea of parmesean cheese in a bowl of ramen kind of squicks me, but I tried some of the pumpkin noodles, and the flavor was very nice. And the nori bats in my friend's bowl were particularly impressive this year.
re: Debbie M
Ha! For me, once I got over the idea of butter corn as a typical ramen topping, the step to parmesan cheese wasn't that hard. Halu uses good, freshly grated parmesan and it melts beautifully clinging to the tiny bits that drift to the bottom of the bowl so that it was easier to pick them up with chopsticks.
I thought the white onions were better this year than my earlier trial. I would have liked a bit more of the deep-fried shallots though.
re: Melanie Wong
Well, in Japan you see corn as a component in a lot of dishes where you wouldn't think it belonged, so that one didn't bother me. But parmesean in dashi?
It probably is good, and if I made to Ramen Halu more than 2-3 times a year, I'd be more open to trying it, but I don't want to give up my sure thing -- char-siu Halu w/egg!
re: Melanie Wong
We went for lunch today -- yum! They're only serving the pumpkin version through the end of the month, which is tomorrow, and if I remember the sign correctly, they're not open for lunch on Tuesdays. Though didn't it used to be Wednesdays they were closed for lunch? I'd call to check if I were you.