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Feb 7, 2007 06:37 AM

Question about Ryowa Ramen (Berkeley)

Hello Bay Area hounds,

My husband Antonius, our 6 year old, and I can't take the absurdly frigid weather in Chicago any more and we've got to get out of here. A quick trip to the Bay Area may keep us relatively sane! We're in pretty good shape as far as planning our meals out there (I lived in Berkeley for 7 years, been back fairly frequently, plus I regularly lurk on your board). But I do have a few questions to ask, and here's one.

Our son has a severe allergy to tree nuts and peanuts. Peanut OIL, oddly enough, is not a problem for him (according to his allergist, the problematic protein is not present in ordinary peanut oil, only in cold-pressed peanut oil). However, one bad allergic reaction he experienced was after eating Thai fried chicken -- we later learned that the restaurant deep fries cashews as a garnish for some of its dishes, and the chicken is deep fried in the same oil. The tiny amount of cashew left behind in the oil and transferred to the chicken was enough to trigger an attack.

Now, we're hoping to get to Ryowa or another ramen house during our visit -- reallly good ramen specialists are in short supply in Chicago. The descriptions of Ryowa in Berkeley by Melanie Wong and other hounds sound great, both the ramen itself and the kara-age.

As far as I know, a ramen place wouldn't be frying any nuts in the oil used for frying the chicken -- is that right?

Our son can happily make a whole meal out of an order of gyoza and will surely slurp up some noodles as well, so even if we avoid the kara-age he'll be all right. But I know he would love the chicken, if he can eat it.

Sorry if this sounds too obsessive, but with his potentially-fatal allergy the only way for us to eat out at the range of ethnic places we want to patronize is to find out as much information beforehand as possible (and to raise the issue with servers too, of course).

thanks in advance, food comrades.


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  1. The Berkeley Ryowa Ramen has fried chicken?

    3 Replies
    1. re: Robert Lauriston

      I'm going by this 2005 post by Melanie:

      "The eye-opener for the other hounds was the fried chicken served with a nutty dipping sauce and a mass of shredded cabbage with poached breast meat and kewpie mayonnaise. The dark meat was so juicy and deliciously marinated, and fried to a satisfying crunch. Non-pork eater, El, said he'd be back soon for this dish again."

      1. re: Robert Lauriston

        Kara-age is the Japanese version of Chinese-style fried chicken. Ryowa in Mountain View was the first place where I really "got it". Maybe because juicy succulence and the garlicky marinade used is so much like my mom's version. Sadly, she recently told me that she gave away her electric skillet and won't be frying chicken any more, so I hope Ryowa's version still shines.

        Ryowa's dipping sauce tastes like sesame to me, and the broth for the original ramen is rich with sesame too. But still important to inquire to be sure peanuts aren't included.

        1. re: Melanie Wong

          Thanks, Melanie, and we will indeed inquire. I had some fabulous kara-age last October at an izakaya in Vancouver and I'm looking forward to having another good rendition at Ryowa.

      2. Last time I was there (Berkeley Ryowa - a couple months ago) they were still serving it.

        1. Ryowa's 'special fried chicken' is a dish I get random cravings for. When it is good, it is spectacular. Sometimes it is just okay (tough and greasy).
          But, regarding nuts, the dipping sauce is quite 'nutty'. This could be sesame seeds or peanuts. I'm just guessing. I've never asked. Those with nut allergies should stay away, I imagine.
          I've never eaten any fried nuts or seem other nut products in the food at Ryowa (beyond the sauce in question).
          Also, the regular gyoza are great ut the special shrimp gyoza are even better...and they have an entire wall of manga (japanese comic books) that are just perfect for kids...especially if they read japanese.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Food_Dude

            Thanks, Food Dude. I noticed Melanie's wording of "nutty" for the dipping sauce and thought it might just be a descriptor for the sesame oil component (sesame is not a problem) but in any event it's easy for our little guy to just not use the sauce, as you advise.

            Thanks for the tip on the shrimp gyoza, and the manga sound great! we might be there all afternoon... :-)