ryowa ramen in mt. view is simply awful(review & pics)
you win some, you lose some. sorry guys, ryowa ramen (mountain view) was absolutely awful - apologies to anyone who really likes the place... maybe i was just there on a really, really off day. i decided to check out ryowa after hearing my silicon valley friend mention it "years ago." since then, according to him, it may have changed owners.
on a random lunch day there during my trip to the bay, we had the ryowa and the butter corn ramen. frankly, they were bland and near-inedible, with the "ryowa" oozing an overwrought sesame flavor and the shio tasting like little more than saltwater. what surprised my friend, a longtime mountain view resident, the most was the simply awful gyoza that was undercooked and mealy. although he liked the fried rice. but let's face it. it's pretty hard to mess up fried rice.
amazingly, the place was PACKED during lunch. it must be the neighborhood, although why anyone would eat here at all (as opposed to maru ichi, which is just a couple of blocks down the street) i can't quite comprehend...
I second that the gyoza there is aweful. Last time I ate there, I ordered the gyoza and found not just slightly undercooked but actual raw cold pork inside. Since then I've stopped ordering any gyoza at ramen shops as most of them are not that great to begin with. Some even use pre-packaged gyoza.
As for the Ryowa ramen, the broth looks more like miso soup than the broth I had last time. Also, previously the menu did not specify "sesame flavor" so maybe indeed there's been some change. I should re-visit to see whether indeed it has gone downhill.
Also note that Ryowa is an old name similar to Santa. They used to be the only games in town before the current crop of Halu, Maru Ichi, Himawari's, and even Gen (gone already) popped up.
Let's just say that Ryowa of 2006/2007 and even from 2005, was nothing like the same place I tried in early 2000 which at least did still remind me a little bit of a visit to Yokohaha Ramen Museum's basement. Portions have shrunk and bit and quality certainly has nosedived. Even the $1 upgrade to "special machine pulled fresh noodle" (is no longer mentioned on the menu but they will offer it if you request it) doesn't help this bowl anymore.
On most given lunch days, the crowds are mostly tech workers nearby, very very few Japanese compared to a few years ago, and mostly Chinese and Taiwanese expats (Cantonese and Mandarin speakers). Maybe that explains the presence of (tea) marinated eggs.
I actually like the Ryowa Ramen broth's sesame flavor. Probably because my tongue loves strong flavors. I also like Ryowa's noodles better than Maru Ichi just because they seem more like stereotypical ramen noodles, whereas Maru Ichi's seemed more like spaghetti to me (not springy, more starchy). However, I am no ramen expert.
I would definitely agree that everything else (except the chicken karaage) is better at Maru Ichi.