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Jul 17, 2008 05:25 PM

Asuka Ramen, Bush Street, San Francisco

We have a new ramen restaurant in San Francisco. It's been open 2-3 weeks, and is on Bush near Taylor.

I've only been once, but thought I'd mention my initial observations:

I thought that the broth in the shio ramen was decent. The noodles had good tooth but were a tad gluey. I think it's the best broth that I've had in SF, but doesn't compare to my favorite ramen -- Santouka in Los Angeles.

The piece of roasted pork had that funk that I don't always love with char-siu but that probably doesn't bug everyone. I think it was more my issue than something flawed with the soup. My friend had "spicy miso ramen" which was basically ground pork with a spicy miso broth -- it was good but I'm not sure that it was great. I want to go back and try some more things and see how consistent the broth is.

I've held off on even mentioning it, because I haven't tried the best we have here for comparison (ie., Santa, Ramen Halu, etc), but since no one else has reported I thought we should get the conversation started. Has anyone else been?

883 Bush St
San Francisco, CA 94199
(415) 567-3153

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  1. Thanks for the report. Here's the menu for those interested.

    Tablehopper says they are still doing a soft opening and the menu will expand over time.

    Here's a little from 7x7 with a photo

    Asuka Ramen
    883 Bush St, San Francisco, CA

    8 Replies
    1. re: rworange

      Thought I'd add a quick report from a Monday night visit to Asuka by a visitor from Vancouver. It was our last evening and we wanted something close by so based on Fig Newton's post and our walkby look on the way to Canteen, we headed to Asuka about 6:45 pm. We were seated immediately by the friendly waitstaff in a half-full room that seems to promote table sharing if you are on your own or a party of two, though we got a "private" table by the door. We ordered shoyu ramen (7.50), jajamen (chili miso sauced ramen with cucumbers and no broth, kinda like a Japanese version of dandan noodles, $7), wakame salad ($4) and pirikara nasu (a spicy eggplant dish $7). We thoroughly enjoyed everything, found the portions to be more than adequate and were in and out in under an hour without feeling the least bit rushed. Re comments I've read elsewhere about the portion sizes being too small, that was not an issue, and we found the ramen to be firm and not at all gluey and the broth rich, subtle and not at all greasy. The one thing they might improve is the quality of the food pictures on the wall (washed out) or maybe lose them altogether? Also FWIW all but one staff member BOH and FOH appeared to be of Japanese descent. To top it off, they had plum wine in a petite bottle ($3.50) called Choya, a brand I've not seen in Vancouver that was very tasty and the perfect size for one. It even had a preserved plum in it which made an ideal dessert bite. We would definitely return. I'm going to try to add a couple of pictures I snapped...

      1. re: grayelf

        Okay let's try that again...

        1. re: grayelf

          Thanks for the report. I'm guessing that jajamen is a Japanese version of zha jiang mian rather than dan dan mian.

          1. re: Xiao Yang

            Ah, that sounds better... it didn't have much peanutty/sesame-ish to say for itself. Thanks!

            1. re: grayelf

              That would make it a Japanese take on a Korean take of a Northern Chinese dish.

              1. re: Xiao Yang

                They do have a couple of identified Korean items on the menu: Kalbi and kalbi ramen so that makes sense.

            2. re: Xiao Yang

              fyi dan dan mien variations at Japanese ramen shops are called tantan men or to that effect. You can find such interpretations at Kahoo (San Jose) and Himawari (San Mateo).

        2. Thanks for the postings! We were going to ACT and decided to try out Asuka based on this thread. We had Tonkotsu, Tantanmien (spicy miso), and poke, and the verdict is thumbs up.

          The tonkotsu broth was milky and good (though not fatty like Santa's), meaty in flavor and I found my lips getting sticky probably from the gelatin in really porky broth. The tantanmien was good as well - the broth had a sesame-oil flavor and not very miso-y, with fresh spinach leaves - the only complaint is it could be thicker - we found a corn starch ball that did not quite melt. The noodles had good bite, and the bamboo shoots were tasty. The portions are large for the normal size, and positively humongous for the super size. For someone who prides on finishing every last drop of broth for all ramen outings, we could not finish the normal size and had to leave about half of the broth of the super size, which is a first!

          The poke was very good - cool cubes of tuna in a spicy sesame oil "dressing" with very thin daikon sticks and seawood salad on the bottom with little caviar like fish eggs on tops - good till the last bite!

          Unfortunately prime time Saturday night and we were the only diners for the duration of our visit. My pet peeve has always been Asian places that are more downmarket than they could've been due to the complete lack of decor, and Asuka is no exception. The aforementioned food pictures have got to go, and painting the walls something other than the pale lime green would help, as would dimming the lights, and losing the KFOG background music.

          In any event, while their food is good enough to stay, I am worried that having no diners on Saturday night does not bode well for longevity.

          1. If you would like to try jajamen where the chili miso + ground pork topping and quick-fried vegetables (yasai itame) are added to your choice of ramen broth ... go to Ramen Club in Burlingame.

            And, I recently experienced the same problem with "atmosphere" that Maple observed. For me, it was at Sanuki Udon, in the Miyako Mall in SF Japantown. Following K K's recommendation, I expected crowds but found that my son and I were the only diners at about 6:30.

            We enjoyed a great meal, but we left worrying the shop won't survive.

            Ramen Club
            723 California Dr, Burlingame, CA 94010

            Sanuki Udon
            22 Peace Plz, San Francisco, CA 94115

            1. Last month I was driving by when a parking space materialized in front and I figured this was as good a time as any to try Asuka Ramen. Signs promoted the price reduction on ramen bowls, dropping the price a buck for most to $6.50. In addition there’s a combo for $10 that includes gyoza. I ordered this with the tonkotsu (pork bone) ramen.

              The gyoza looked nice on the plate, but tasted quite dreadful. Mealy-textured filling of "mystery meat" were enclosed in too-soft wrappers. Nicely browned though. I pushed these aside.

              No better was the tonkotsu ramen. The broth was a pleasant, lightly porky stock, but lacked any Japanese tare. Dried out pork slices had grill marks on them but were flavorless and tough. The hard-boiled egg smelled of sulfur and had an unappetizing gray ring around the yolk. Soggy noodles and sloppy presentation too.

              Maybe the quality has gone down from earlier reports as eateries everywhere try to economize on ingredients and staff. But for now, I don’t see any reason to eat here. Based on this performance, Asuka weighs in as #60 on the ramen rankings.

              1. Ramen Halu, 375 Saratoga Ave Ste M, San Jose
              2. Santouka @ Mitsuwa Hokkaido Festival, 675 Saratoga Ave, San Jose
              3. Santa, 805 S B St, San Mateo (pre-move)
              4. Himawari, 202 2nd Ave, San Mateo
              5. Maru Ichi, 368 Castro St, Mountain View
              6. Izakaya Mai, 212 2nd Avenue, San Mateo
              7. Ajisen Noodle, 47890 Warm Springs Blvd, Fremont
              8. Ryowa, 859 Villa St, Mountain View
              9. Tanto, 1063 E El Camino Real, Sunnyvale
              10. Do-Henkotsu House of Tokushima Ramen, 4330 Moorpark Ave, San Jose (closed
              )11.Gen Ramen, 47890 Warm Springs Blvd, Fremont (closed)
              12.Hana Japanese Restaurant, 101 Golf Course Dr, Rohnert Park
              13.Izakaya Restaurant, 1335 N 1st St, San Jose
              14.BY Grill, 3226 Geary Blvd, San Francisco (closed)
              15.Norikonoko, 2556 Telegraph Ave, Berkeley
              16.Hana, 4320 Moorpark, San Jose
              17.Dohatsuten, 799 San Antonio Rd, Palo Alto
              18.Katanaya, 430 Geary Blvd., San Francisco
              19.Masa's Sushi, 400 San Antonio Road, Mountain View
              20.Gochi, 19980 Homestead Rd, Cupertino
              21.Oyaji, 3123 Clement St, San Francisco
              22.Halu Restaurant, 312 8th Ave, San Francisco
              23.Sanmi, 3226 Geary Blvd, San Francisco
              24.Maru Ichi, 530 Barber Lane, Milpitas
              25.Hatcho, 1271 Franklin Mall, Santa Clara
              26.Kahoo, 4330 Moorpark Ave, San Jose
              27.Tomoe, 810 3rd St, San Rafael (closed)
              28.Ringer Hut, 1072 Saratoga Ave, San Jose
              29.Noodle Theory, 3242 Scott St, San Francisco
              30.Watami Shabu Shabu and Ramen, 5344 Geary Blvd, San Francisco
              31.Kumako, 211 E. Jackson Street, San Jose
              32.Japanese Restaurant Hoshi, 246 Saratoga Avenue, Santa Clara
              33.Ramen Club, 723 California Dr, Burlingame
              34.Ryowa, 2068 University Ave, Berkeley (after ownership change)
              35.King Won Ton, 1936 Irving St, San Francisco
              36.Tazaki Sushi, 3420 Judah St, San Francisco
              37.Ramen Rama, 19774 Stevens Creek Blvd, Cupertino (closed)
              38.Ogi-San Ramen, 10789 Blaney Ave, Cupertino (closed)
              39.Kaimuki Grill, 104 S El Camino Real, San Mateo
              40.Tanto, 1306 Saratoga Ave, San Jose
              41.Okazu Ya SF (Noriega), 2445 Noriega St, San Francisco
              42.King's Garden Ramen, 39055 Cedar Blvd, Newark (closed)
              43.Sushi Bistro, 445 Balboa St, San Francisco
              44.Genki Ramen, 3944 Geary Blvd, San Francisco
              45.Mitsuwa Hokkaido festival booth, 675 Saratoga Ave, San Jose
              46.Lakuni, 325 E 4th Ave, San Mateo
              47.100% Healthy Desserts, 1155 Taraval St., San Francisco
              48.Mifune, 1737 Post St, San Francisco
              49.H2A Noodle, 42318 Fremont Blvd., Fremont (closed)
              50.Iroha, 1728 Buchanan St, San Francisco
              51.Miraku Noodles, 2131 N Broadway, Walnut Creek
              52.Manpuku, 2977 College Ave, Berkeley
              53.Tanpopo, 1740 Buchanan Street, San Francisco
              54.Sushi Yoshi, 39261 Cedar Blvd, Newark
              55.La Shang Niang Ramen (OEC), 42 Dixon Rd, Milpitas
              56.Oidon, 71 E. 4th Avenue, San Mateo
              57.Taraval Okazu Ya, 1735 Taraval St., San Francisco
              58.Suzu Noodle House, 1581 Webster Street, San Francisco
              59.Fresh Taste, 2107 El Camino Real, Palo Alto
              60.Asuka Ramen, 883 Bush St, San Francisco
              61.Sapporo-ya, 1581 Webster St, San Francisco
              62.Tokyo Ramen, 678 Barber Lane, Milpitas (closed)
              63.Kamakura, 2549 Santa Clara Ave, Alameda
              64.Mama-san!, 312 8th Ave, San Francisco (closed)
              65.Katana-ya Ramen, 10546 San Pablo Ave, El Cerrito
              66.Hotei, 1290 9th Ave, San Francisco
              67.Bear's Ramen House, 2521 Durant, Berkeley

              11 Replies
              1. re: Melanie Wong

                There's a new ramen place in Mt. View. It took over the space that Hattoriya was in. I don't remember the name but the sign outside says (I think) noodles and japanese tapas.

                I had a great bowl of ramen the other week. I'll see if I can get back there and at least get the name and menu, but would love to hear how it stacks up by someone with a more educated opinion than my own...
                Ha! I'd say nevermind about my post but it makes it interesting... I'm referring to #17 on your list. I'm impressed you've reviewed it so quickly!

                1. re: margieco

                  Oh yes, Dohatsuten on the Palo alto-mtn view border. The ramen is quite solid for a nonspecialist. Those guys are good cooks overall and now that it's been open longer, probably getting more consistent. If you remember the details of your meal, I hope you'll post to the thread to build up the intell.

                  1. re: Melanie Wong

                    I'll go back and try it again so I can post the details. I do remember I was starting to feel sniffly and got the basic ramen with salt broth. It was really satisfying.

                2. re: Melanie Wong

                  That is so sad, Melanie, but thanks for the update. We might have done a "lazy meal" there again and been disappointed. Too bad none of your high rated places are near our hotel -- we have a lot of ramen at home that is pretty good so likely wouldn't travel too far for it in SF :-).

                  1. re: Melanie Wong

                    Melanie - wondering if you have an updated Ramen list for 2011? I'm an NYC ramen fiend and trying to find the best places in SF and surrounding areas. Your list is a fantastic start for me. Just wondering if you plan on updating etc. Thanks!

                    1. re: Scotty100

                      Ramen 2011
                      if you like bold, creamy broths, consider
                      Santouka toroniku
                      Ramen Dojo shoyu
                      Himawari tan tan
                      if lighter and less salt, then maybe Kahoo, Shalala, Suzu, Halu, Dohatsuten could work
                      oh and Ippudo wasn't better than the bay...was there a chef change?

                        1. re: Melanie Wong

                          Excellent chowhounding Melanie! Thank you very much...I look forward to checking some of these places out.

                          Ankimo - thanks also for your heads-up.

                          1. re: Scotty100

                            Melanie,would there be a cut off point be on your list , where you'd say, below this ranking I really don't recommend this place?

                            1. re: redrover

                              Probably around the #30-#35 range is the cut off point. And it's important to keep in mind that the rank is based on a specific ramen bowl or combination at each place. Few places make all of their stocks equally well, so YMMV if you order something else.

                              1. re: Melanie Wong

                                What do you think of Hapa Ramen at the ferry building? I walked past it today...looked decent. But I notice it is not on your list.

                                Hapa Ramen
                                ferry building, San Francisco, CA

                    2. Stopped by the other night and was sad to learn that they will be closing at the end of August. :( I will miss my katsu curry and wantanmin.

                      Asuka Ramen
                      883 Bush St, San Francisco, CA