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Good Ramen in San Francisco?

makaroon Nov 2, 2006 03:52 AM

I've been looking for a good ramen restaurant in SF for years... So far, I've liked Suzu in Japan town, but would love to know if anyone has any recommendations, especially for one serving a good tonkotsu ramen. Thanks!!

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  1. Melanie Wong RE: makaroon Nov 2, 2006 05:25 AM

    Have you tried Katanaya downtown? No tonkotsu but the shoyu stock is very meaty tasting and rich. Here's more info -

    8 Replies
    1. re: Melanie Wong
      makaroon RE: Melanie Wong Nov 2, 2006 05:43 AM

      No, I haven't - thanks for the suggestion - will definitely give it a try! I'm also very excited as it appears to be open late (until 2am)!

      Do you know if its related to the Katana-ya that used to be on Judah and 6th/5th avenue next to Pomelo which I was very sad about having closed a year or so ago (although Tikka Misala which replaced it is really quite good)?

      1. re: makaroon
        Melanie Wong RE: makaroon Nov 2, 2006 05:52 AM

        Yes, the same chef is here. I had never been to the old place but had heard about the greasy, meaty broth for years. Those who have been to both say the taste is just the same. Please let us know what you think!

        1. re: Melanie Wong
          makaroon RE: Melanie Wong Nov 17, 2006 07:13 PM

          I finally tried Katana-ya, and wanted to report that it was a definite improvement over Suzu. I ordered the shio ramen with chasiu pork and the noodles 'katame' which was great. My only minor complaint was I thought the broth was a little on the salty side. We also ordered the gyoza and the karaage. I thought the house-made gyoza was much better than the karaage.

          Will definitely be going back to Katana-ya whenever I need a ramen fix!

          Thanks, Melanie for the suggestion!

      2. re: Melanie Wong
        srr RE: Melanie Wong Nov 2, 2006 06:27 AM

        Trust anything Melanie Wong has to say about ramen. Also do a search for her ramen rankings. It has served me well.

        1. re: srr
          ML8000 RE: srr Nov 2, 2006 05:51 PM

          Indeed, as a non-major ramen fan Melanie's ranking is beyond impressive.

        2. re: Melanie Wong
          Kato RE: Melanie Wong Nov 2, 2006 01:53 PM

          #10 on the Ramen list, BY Grill has closed.

          1. re: Kato
            Melanie Wong RE: Kato Nov 2, 2006 05:42 PM

            Yes, thank you, that's been noted on more recent iterations of the rankings. Have you had a chance to try its replacement, Sanmi? It serves ramen at lunch time but I haven't made my way there yet.

            1. re: Melanie Wong
              Kato RE: Melanie Wong Nov 5, 2006 02:57 AM

              Nope, it's nearby but I don't walk that way much.

              I've noticed that Nagano, the sushi place on Geary (between Arguello and 2nd Avenue) recently put up a banner saying it offers ramen. At the very least, BY Grill's brief life must have prodded Nagano's into pushing ramen.

        3. n
          niki rothman RE: makaroon Nov 2, 2006 10:36 AM

          Mifune (Japan Center) now serves ramen. It is very good. I also had it in Suzu Noodle House there but it was nowhere near as good - smaller portion, less meat, weak broth. Mifune broths are good/rich - porky, and the price is low and serving size large.

          1 Reply
          1. re: niki rothman
            Melanie Wong RE: niki rothman Nov 2, 2006 05:40 PM

            Here's a link to my post on the ramen at Mifune.
            I found it quite undistinguished and way down the list though better than my two outings to Suzu, but your mileage might vary.

          2. jupiter RE: makaroon Nov 2, 2006 10:31 PM

            since Melanie and others turned me on to the Katana-ya, i have been there often.

            My standard now is the Ramen Domburi combo for lunch and being a ramen newbie that hates miso broth, i have to say, i prefer the salt broth over the soy broth. (thanks for the tip chowfun Derek) The soy is just way to salty for me. The Salt broth is very meaty and rich and has a good deep flavor to it.

            I still order the noodles cooked hard and they always come out perfect.

            I have tried the bbq pork domburi (yumm), unagi domburi (bleah) and tonkatsu domburi (yumm again)

            Also, if you order the domburi/ramen combo, they will always put less bbq pork in the ramen.

            1 Reply
            1. re: jupiter
              Melanie Wong RE: jupiter Nov 5, 2006 04:10 AM

              Ramen broth is heavily salted to be more like a condiment for flavoring the noodles rather than for consumption as soup. Shoyu flavor, in particular, is usually too salty to drink much of it.

            2. a
              artemis RE: makaroon Nov 5, 2006 04:01 AM

              is there such a thing as a vegetarian broth at ramen places?? i love melanie's posts but i don't eat mammals... 'porcine richness' is not going to do it for me.

              the broth names don't seem to indicate their origin... jupiter says the "salt broth is very meaty." is the soy broth meat-based too? is there a broth based on bonito?

              4 Replies
              1. re: artemis
                Melanie Wong RE: artemis Nov 5, 2006 04:05 AM

                Vegetarian ramen does exist. Ryowa in Berkeley and Mountain View, Ringer Hut in San Jose, and Ramen-rama in Cupertino have had it on the menu.

                If you're looking for a broth based on bonito with no meat, you'll have a better chance of finding that with udon rather than ramen.

                1. re: Melanie Wong
                  Cary RE: Melanie Wong Nov 5, 2006 04:32 AM

                  Although, true vegetarians won't eat fish as well.

                  1. re: Cary
                    artemis RE: Cary Nov 5, 2006 05:27 PM

                    thanks, melanie!

                    and i never claimed to be a "true" vegetarian.

                    1. re: artemis
                      Cary RE: artemis Nov 5, 2006 05:43 PM

                      I wasn't implying that you were. It was just a fair warning to those who don't know about the use of fish stock in Japanese broths.

              2. i
                isaac1972 RE: makaroon Nov 17, 2006 09:09 PM

                I ate at the downtown Katanaya for the first time this weekend, and found it WAY greasier than the one in the Sunset. Some people go in for that sort of thing, but I'm not a fan, especially if there's no oolong to break down the fat.

                My friend Jon says there's no excuse for a ramen place not to have corn ramen as an option. How hard is it to keep some frozen corn on hand? Sheesh.

                1. t
                  tako RE: makaroon Nov 17, 2006 11:54 PM

                  When we went to Katanaya last weekend, we did not see the chef from when Katanaya was on Judah. And yes, it was greasier than what i remembered from the old venue. The noodles were a bit thick and heavy, without a nice bounce in the mouth. However, all in all an okay bowl of ramen.

                  1. a
                    annalou RE: makaroon Nov 18, 2006 02:50 PM

                    Oyaji (http://www.oyajirestaurant.com/menu.p...) near the Presidio also has fabulous ramen although the types are limited.

                    5 Replies
                    1. re: annalou
                      Melanie Wong RE: annalou Nov 19, 2006 07:07 AM

                      Assuming the Judah Katanaya ramen chef is still around, you might find it interesting to know that Oyaji's chef/owner is said to be his brother. Some find a familial resemblance between the pork bone stocks. (g)

                      1. re: Melanie Wong
                        umeboshi RE: Melanie Wong Dec 18, 2006 10:30 PM

                        Katanaya is no longer there. The chef has moved on and yes, they are brothers. (Oyaji's owner being the older)

                        1. re: umeboshi
                          augustiner RE: umeboshi Dec 18, 2006 11:10 PM

                          katanaya is closed down?

                          1. re: augustiner
                            umeboshi RE: augustiner Dec 19, 2006 07:36 PM

                            As far as I recall it's no longer there. Maybe they moved? One thing i know for sure is the chef has moved on.

                            1. re: umeboshi
                              Melanie Wong RE: umeboshi Dec 20, 2006 04:44 AM

                              You're referring to the restaurant that opened this summer? I just called Katanaya and it's indeed open for business at this moment (9:45pm on Tuesday night) and serving ramen. Don't know if the same ramen chef is there.

                              (across from ACT)
                              430 Geary (@ Mason)
                              San Francisco
                              Open daily

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