Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > San Francisco Bay Area >
Apr 27, 2007 01:45 PM

KAHOO RAMEN - quite possibly the best shoyu in the bay (review & pics)

well here it is. my official take on kahoo ramen. keep in mind that i drove all the way up to the bay area in anticipation of trying out do-henkotsu and their fabled tokushima ramen. (i missed that sucker by like, 2 weeks!) and then i saw melanie's less than stellar take on kahoo ramen and was fairly disappointed, thinking i should skip it altogether and just go to the established superstars - santa, halu, etc...

maybe it was because my lunch at ryowa was so immensely unsatisfying that, despite being full, i still managed to trek it over to kahoo for a 2nd lunch. ryowa from like 12:30 -1pm, then kahoo from 1:30 until they closed for the lunch hour lol). needless to say, i TOTALLY came to regret even eating at ryowa ramen and not being properly hungry for kahoo, because the shoyu ramen (not the miso, not the vegetable, that other people seem to have disliked), was really THAT GOOD.

subtle, sweet, and light, made from chicken feet, pork bone, wafu dashi (bonito, aji or katsuo dried fish) and a sprinkling of fat, it reminded me of cutting edge tokyo shoyu ramen, all the rage these days. the flavors are subtle, maybe too subtle for a lot of people, but it's not supposed to be tonkotsu and it's not supposed to be hearty or overdone, at least not when done this way.

also, i really dug the pork belly cuts they used for the chashu, which wound up somewhere between chashu and buta kakuni (the stewed pork they serve at maru ichi and santa), without the heady shoyu and mirin marinade.

toss in the fact that the chef is NOT the old guy, but rather the young guy, one Sou Nakano, and you've got yourself a ramen shop with a lot of potential and quite possibly the best shoyu ramen in california.

pics, etc:

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Is Sou Nakano the guy from Wakayama, who used to work at Akane Los Altos's kitchen?

    I agree with the shoyu ramen. First time I had a sip of my friend's bowl, it was less than stellar (they probably forgot to add dashi to it). It has subsequently been better and better. My first two visits they didn't even add horenso (spinach) to the bowl, until the 3rd visit. Shio is also strong in its own right. I must say that both soups are overall very light, definitely not the place to go if you want to pass out from a broth of fatty bones.

    Before you hounds flock here in droves, a heads up that the service here is getting a bit spotty with one of the waitstaff, who doesn't hesistate to interrupt your conversations with other people (if you are not alone) and ask if you are done, when you still have broth in your bowl but no noodles or toppings. They obviously don't want you to take your time here. With service issues like that, as good as they are right now I'm not terribly inclined to go out of my way to come back that often.

    Miso ramen here seems to be the new weak link, and anything that includes the stir fried vegetables that seem to spoil the subtle flavors of the ramen broth. The mini rice bowls are very nice, but sadly last time I went, they gave me one teba (chicken wing) in the bowl as opposed to two during my first visit. Talk about downsizing... the minced pork over rice is great though (pork soboro).

    9 Replies
    1. re: K K

      unless i heard him wrong he said he's from okayama prefecture (close =)... i think he did mention he used to be at akane - can a bay area local confirm or refute this?

      1. re: rameniac

        Ahhh I guess I heard wrong then on where he is from. :-)

        The ramen chef is friends with the #2 sushi chef at Akane who I know and have talked to many times (whose wife works at Tanto).

      2. re: K K

        I totally agree with you Ken. I had the shio, shoyu, and spicy miso last night along with an order of the karaage (I was in pain afterwards). After going back and forth between the shio and shoyu, I ended up preferring the shio by the slightest margin.

        The miso while spicy was way too busy and not nearly as subtle and refined as the shio and shoyu. It's not for me.

        The karaage was good. It tasted as if it had been pre-marinated.

        It'll only be a matter of time before the lines start stacking up the sign up sheet goes up near the entrance.

        1. re: Porthos

          Wow, you ate THREE bowls of ramen AND karaage in one sitting?!?! That's quite a feat!

          1. re: Humbucker

            Not to mention true chowhound dedication. Bravo! Or brava as the case may be...

            1. re: Humbucker

              No, I had 2 bowls and half the order of karaage. And maybe a 1/4 of the third bowl. It's a tough job but was good too.

              1. re: Porthos

                Fred, I nomiate you to be Raman King, and no that's not a mispelling!

                I can probably handle 2 Kahoo bowls (non miso) and barely walk out alive but 2.25 + a karaage bowl? That's lethal... Did you consume all of the broth from the 2 bowls?

                Your Kahoo decadence sounds like a bad Mexican dinner with a 100% cream top milkshake.

                The best karaage I've had so far is at Sumika in Los Altos. Can't beat that Petaluma Farm organic chicken flavor with Maru-san's receipe...

                1. re: K K

                  Nope, could not consume all the broth from the 2 bowl. I'd say I finished about 60-70% of the miso broth and 70-80% of the shio broth. Any more and I would have cost me a visit to the emergency room.

                  I've been meaning to try Sumika. Have you had Santa's dinner karaage? That may still be my favorite just because it's so incredibly juicy.

                2. re: rameniac

                  The Kahoo experience was pushing my max. The only other time I ate that much was a bowl of Santa's tonkotsu with extra noodles, a second regular bowl of tonkotsu, and an order of karaage. That put me pretty much at the max. I can't imagine 12 refills.

          2. It's official. The word is out on Kahoo. We just got back from Kahoo and the line was 8 deep, 10 minutes long at 1pm on a Sunday. I indulged in a bowl of shio ramen with extra noodles. The egg was runny and custardy in the middle, the pork was sweet and delicious, and the broth subtle and wonderful.

            The staff handled the crowd well with no noticable compromise in quality.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Porthos

              Had dinner there two Sundays ago at aroud 7pm. Line was 3 tables ahead of me. Waited about 12-15 min to get seated for a part of 3.

              I got the shoyu ramen, boyfriend got the special which was the cold shoyu noodles and friend got the kimchi pork.

              The shoyu ramen was really good! The broth was dark and tasty, not salty at all. I didn't add anything to it as it was fine on it's own. The noodles were ok. They were a bit too firm for my taste but as they sat in the broth they cooked a little more. I wish they would have put in more noodles. There was half an egg in there, more soft than hard boiled in my opinion. They had one small piece of nori and a ton of green onion, I mean A TON! I'm sure I could have scooped some out and used it for another meal. Very small pieces of pork that were too fatty for my taste. I'm not sure if they ran out of meat or what but I only counted 4 pieces in my ramen and two of those were fatty.
              The broth is the standout. I ate the entire bowl down to the last drop.
              What I didn't like was that the bowls looked smaller and the price was higher than Do-Honketsu (sp?).

              The cold shoyu noodles was just cold shoyu ramen. Not as good as the hot ramen. It came with two pieces of pork on the side which were good. No pork in the actual broth. The kimchi pork was good. Nicely spiced, very strong kimchi flavor. They put the mayonaise on the side and there were a good amount of thinly sliced pork throughout.

              The only bad thing is that my friend found a hair in her rice. The hair was short and curly and looking around, no one there had curly hair. We tried not to think too much about it. We told them and they brought her more rice, but it was from the same big rice cooker. She didn't eat the rest of the rice and they didn't offer to comp or discount her meal.

              But the shoyu was good!