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Jun 9, 2005 06:11 PM

Littleneck clam ramen @ Tanto, San Jose

  • m

How far the mighty can fall! The clam ramen at the San Jose branch of Tanto (on the border of Saratoga) had been one of my absolute favorite ramen bowls around. After reading Cary's report of bad clams, I stopped by here on Monday for a quick lunch to taste for myself.

The combination was in the same style as before, not the smokier and richer version served at the newer Sunnyvale branch. However, the execution was off. Served too hot, the noodles started off fine but had turned much too soft by the end of the bowl. The broth was more dilute with less than half the flavor it had in better days. If I hadn't known it was supposed to be clam stock, I'm not sure I could have id'd it. I could see the bits of garlic but none of the flavor hit the palate. The nine clams in the shell were sweet and tender and there was a good amount of tasty wakame. It was served with a nice warm onigiri.

With good quality toppings, average noodles, and below average broth, I rank this below the median. Whereas it had once been #3, now it's down to #19. If I were eating at Tanto, SJ, I might order this again. I would ask for "hard" noodles and keep my fingers crossed about the broth.


1. Ramen Halu, San Jose
2. Santa, San Mateo
3. Ryowa, Berkeley
4. Himawari, San Mateo
5. Ryowa, Mountain View
6. Maru Ichi, Mountain View
7. Tanto, Sunnyvale
8. Do-Henkotsu House of Tokushima Ramen, San Jose
9. Gen Ramen, Fremont
10.BY Grill, San Francisco
11.Masa’s Sushi, Mountain View
12.Oyaji, San Francisco
13.Maru Ichi, Milpitas
14.Tomoe, San Rafael
15.Ringer Hut, San Jose
16.Tazaki Sushi, San Francisco
17.Ogi-San Ramen, Cupertino
18.Kaimuki Grill, San Mateo
19.Tanto, San Jose
20.Okazu Ya SF (Noriega), San Francisco
21.Ramen Club, Burlingame
22.King’s Garden Ramen, Newark
23.Sushi Bistro, San Francisco
24.Lakuni, San Mateo
25.Iroha, San Francisco
26.Manpuku, Berkeley
27.Tanpopo, San Francisco
28.Sushi Yoshi, Newark
29.Suzu Noodle House, San Francisco
30.Oidon, San Mateo
31.Katanaya, El Cerrito
32.Sapporo-ya, San Francisco
33.Tokyo Ramen, Milpitas
34.Hotei, San Francisco
35.Bear’s Ramen House, Berkeley



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  1. I might have to visit the Sunnyvale branch.

    Your report seems to coincide with what I experienced. Weak broth. Noodles losing it's firmness quickly. Clams were okay.

    Tanto is a good izakaya place though, with good small plates. I wouldn't go for the ramen.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Cary

      First and only time I had a half decent clams ramen was when the owner and original chef (Ryo-san) was still working at the SJ Tanto location, and he personally prepared the ramen himself.

      Ryo-san is now at the Sunnyvale Tanto, but without the counter seating where you can interact with the chef, the personal touch will be rather lacking.

    2. Man you've eaten a lot of ramen. Got rankings for place in SoCal?

      1. Thanks for compiling such a detailed ramen ranking list, Melanie. Out
        of your top entries on it, are there any you would recommend as having
        a flavorful but lighter broth?

        I love ramen but am getting to the age where seeing lots of "floaties",
        eg full flecks of pork fat, makes me lose my appetite.

        Haru gives you the option of straining the broth, I've had it that way
        and its pretty good. Just wondering if there are any other places that
        are a little bit 'heart-healthy'..