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Jan 6, 2008 12:14 PM

Berkeley’s Ramen House Ryowa – A new ballgame

Various reports of decline at Ryowa in Berkeley uncovered a change in ownership and operation of the Berkeley location, as of September 2006.

Ramen House Ryowa’s ABC license info -

My favorite dish here had been the Hiyashi Chuka, a cold ramen salad available during the summer season only. I returned to try it in August on a warm evening.

First, the good news. The thick “special” noodles are just as excellent, cooked to a perfect al dente and chewiness.

However, the chashu was tired and dried out. The salad was assembled haphazardly, lacking the exacting proportions and presentation of the past. Note the chewed up egg half. The knife work has headed south as can be seen in the clunky pieces of cucumber in the photo. Spongy instead of crisp, the jellyfish was tasteless. The dressing was overly acidic and nothing like the spicy sesame-laced sauce used to be. And, lastly, the whole thing was water-logged, diluting what little flavor was there.

Image of hiyashi chuka -

So, it’s a whole new ballgame at Ryowa Berkeley and it drops to #25 in the rankings. I’m still hopeful that some of the soup stocks may still deliver as a partner to the housemade noodles and will return to try them some time.

Last visit to Ryowa Berkeley for tsukemen (August 2005) –

1. Ramen Halu, 375 Saratoga Ave Ste M, San Jose
2. Santa, 805 S B St, San Mateo (pre-move)
3. Himawari, 202 2nd Ave, San Mateo
4. Maru Ichi, 368 Castro St, Mountain View
5. Ryowa, 859 Villa St, Mountain View
6. Tanto, 1063 E El Camino Real, Sunnyvale
7. Do-Henkotsu House of Tokushima Ramen, 4330 Moorpark Ave, San Jose (closed)
8. Gen Ramen, 47890 Warm Springs Blvd, Fremont (closed)
9.BY Grill, 3226 Geary Blvd, San Francisco (closed
)10.Norikonoko, 2556 Telegraph Ave, Berkeley
11.Hana, 4320 Moorpark, San Jose
12.Katanaya, 430 Geary Blvd., San Francisco
13.Masa's Sushi, 400 San Antonio Road, Mountain View
14.Gochi, 19980 Homestead Rd, Cupertino
15.Oyaji, 3123 Clement St, San Francisco
16.Sanmi, 3226 Geary Blvd, San Francisco
17.Maru Ichi, 530 Barber Lane, Milpitas
18.Hatcho, 1271 Franklin Mall, Santa Clara
19.Kahoo, 4330 Moorpark Ave, San Jose
20.Tomoe, 810 3rd St, San Rafael (closed)
21.Ringer Hut, 1072 Saratoga Ave, San Jose
22.Kumako, 211 E. Jackson Street, San Jose
23.Izakaya Mai, 212 2nd Avenue, San Mateo
24.Ramen Club, 723 California Dr, Burlingame
25.Ryowa, 2068 University Ave, Berkeley (after ownership change)
26.Tazaki Sushi, 3420 Judah St, San Francisco
27.Ramen Rama, 19774 Stevens Creek Blvd, Cupertino
28.Ogi-San Ramen, 10789 Blaney Ave, Cupertino (closed)
29.Kaimuki Grill, 104 S El Camino Real, San Mateo
30.Tanto, 1306 Saratoga Ave, San Jose
31.Okazu Ya SF (Noriega), 2445 Noriega St, San Francisco
32.King's Garden Ramen, 39055 Cedar Blvd, Newark (closed)
33.Sushi Bistro, 445 Balboa St, San Francisco
34.Mitsuwa Hokkaido festival booth, 675 Saratoga Ave, San Jose
35.Lakuni, 325 E 4th Ave, San Mateo
36.100% Healthy Desserts, 1155 Taraval St., San Francisco
37.Mifune, 1737 Post St, San Francisco
38.H2A Noodle, 42318 Fremont Blvd., Fremont
39.Iroha, 1728 Buchanan St, San Francisco
40.Miraku Noodles, 2131 N Broadway, Walnut Creek
41.Manpuku, 2977 College Ave, Berkeley
42.Tanpopo, 1740 Buchanan Street, San Francisco
43.Sushi Yoshi, 39261 Cedar Blvd, Newark
44.La Shang Niang Ramen (OEC), 42 Dixon Rd, Milpitas
45.Oidon, 71 E. 4th Avenue, San Mateo
46.Taraval Okazu Ya, 1735 Taraval St., San Francisco
47.Suzu Noodle House, 1581 Webster Street, San Francisco
48.Sapporo-ya, 1581 Webster St, San Francisco
49.Tokyo Ramen, 678 Barber Lane, Milpitas (closed)
50.Kamakura, 2549 Santa Clara Ave, Alameda
51.Mama-san!, 312 8th Ave, San Francisco
52.Katana-ya Ramen, 10546 San Pablo Ave, El Cerrito
53.Hotei, 1290 9th Ave, San Francisco
54.Bear's Ramen House, 2521 Durant, Berkeley

2068 University Ave, Berkeley, CA 94704

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  1. Could you explain why you have ranked the ramen at Tazaki Sushi as better than Ramen Rama?

    1. That makes me sad, but does make me feel better about the rankings as I tried it over the summer and did not find the ramen I had (can't remember what it was) worth returning for.

      1. Hi Melanie, thanks for your extensive list. Since I don't get ramen often, I defer to experts like you to get an idea of where to go to first when I do get my ramen cravings.

        BTW, was wondering why you didn't have Genki Ramen on Geary on your list. I feel it's somewhat comparable to Katanaya in Union Square. I haven't been to Genki lately, but assume it's still good. What do you think?

        1. Unfortunately, I can confirm this decline. The broth in my miso ramen was tepid and insipid, the half of a hardboiled egg stone cold, the bamboo shoots metallic-tasting. I don't even want to think about the places that Melanie has ranked below this. Do I really have to drive to the South Bay for good ramen now? --PR

          1 Reply
          1. re: Prabhakar Ragde

            If you're in the Berkeley-Oakland area, Norikonoko (Telegraph just south of Dwight) ramen is good, the room a little cramped but inviting, the staff very friendly. Too bad about Ryowa--it was convenient for an inexpensive, warming dinner after a movie at one of the downtown Berkeley cinemas.