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Jul 19, 2008 02:34 PM

First Time at Genki Ramen, SF

Many moons ago, “singleguychef” had asked whether I’d tried Genki Ramen in San Francisco. Indeed I had, but at that time I felt I should give it another go before posting about it. My first visit was a warm Indian summer day in October 2007 when I tried the cold ramen, but I’ve not returned yet. Since it’s now summer and the season for cold ramen again, I thought it best to report now and not wait any further.

Stepping inside, I immediately noticed how much more spacious the room was than typically crowded and cramped noodle houses tend to be. Not just that I was the only customer, but the tables feel as if they’re spaced further apart. Contemporary in décor, this sense of style extends to the tabletop setting. Also, the complimentary pickled vegetables matched the logo colors and were cut into fanciful shapes.

Image of Genki tabletop -

Cold ramen has not tended to be the best foot forward in most of the examples I’ve tried. And, in this regard, Genki was no different. The knife work on the veggies was precise if cut a bit too big. I made a point to avoid the hard and pale cherry tomatoes. The noodles were ok in texture but nothing special. Served icy cold, it was hard to discern any flavor in the julienned roast pork (char siu). The dressing served on the side had a nice acidic tang and a bit of sesame but didn't taste particularly Japanese to me. The dressing didn’t unify the ingredients and this dish never really come together for me.

Image of cold ramen -

Since the noodles themselves weren’t terrible, I would be willing to return for one of the soup preps. But I’m in no hurry to get back. With so many new places cropping up, it may be a while before that happens. Genki takes slot #34 on the ramen ranking.

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 (closed for remodeling)
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.Genki Ramen, 3944 Geary Blvd, San Francisco
35.Mitsuwa Hokkaido festival booth, 675 Saratoga Ave, San Jose
36.Lakuni, 325 E 4th Ave, San Mateo
37.100% Healthy Desserts, 1155 Taraval St., San Francisco
38.Mifune, 1737 Post St, San Francisco
39.H2A Noodle, 42318 Fremont Blvd., Fremont
40.Iroha, 1728 Buchanan St, San Francisco
41.Miraku Noodles, 2131 N Broadway, Walnut Creek
42.Manpuku, 2977 College Ave, Berkeley
43.Tanpopo, 1740 Buchanan Street, San Francisco
44.Sushi Yoshi, 39261 Cedar Blvd, Newark
45.La Shang Niang Ramen (OEC), 42 Dixon Rd, Milpitas
46.Oidon, 71 E. 4th Avenue, San Mateo
47.Taraval Okazu Ya, 1735 Taraval St., San Francisco
48.Suzu Noodle House, 1581 Webster Street, San Francisco
49.Sapporo-ya, 1581 Webster St, San Francisco
50.Tokyo Ramen, 678 Barber Lane, Milpitas (closed)
51.Kamakura, 2549 Santa Clara Ave, Alameda
52.Mama-san!, 312 8th Ave, San Francisco (closed)
53.Katana-ya Ramen, 10546 San Pablo Ave, El Cerrito
54.Hotei, 1290 9th Ave, San Francisco
55.Bear's Ramen House, 2521 Durant, Berkeley

Genki Ramen
3944 Geary Blvd, San Francisco, CA 94118

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  1. Thanks for the report. Looking forward to your take on the newly-opened Halu in Inner Richmond.

    1. Melanie, I didn't even realize there was a thing like cold ramen. For cold noodles I always think of somen noodles, which I think are lighter than ramen. But good to know. Yeah, Genki is OK and nice environment with the whole Pop bar atmosphere, but noodles are just OK. Next time I might go for cold ramen, but San Francisco gets so cold in the summer that oftentimes you can just eat a bowl of warm ramen. :)

      2 Replies
      1. re: singleguychef

        Man, it was so cold in SF today, I nearly froze to death walking 2 blocks in a light dress and sandals. I would have liked to soak my feet in a hot bowl of ramen!

        I think you need to be south of San Mateo to get the full refreshing benefit of cold ramen in hot weather. Do try Maru Ichi in Mountain View for this dish, I understand it's on the menu again for the season.

        1. re: Melanie Wong

          We like Genki pretty well and go there probably every couple of months. On a hot day not long ago, my husband got the cold ramen dish and it was delicious.

      2. very good list, I think I will use this as reference for my upcoming trip

        1 Reply
        1. re: irbaboon

          The rankings are based on the best of the bowls I tried at each spot, if I've had more than one order. So you may want to look up the past posts on these restaurants to find out the specialties, as there can be dramatic differences between the quality of one stock or another. For example, at Ringer Hut, only get the nagasaki champon, everything else is pretty dreadful. Also, the relative quality drops off very fast below the top 5 places. If your only option is a ramen joint that rates #20 or less, you should really think about eating something else besides ramen.

        2. I agree with the middling ranking, I wanted it to be better but chalked it up to the weekend crush. Very friendly staff though.

          1. Adding a link for Genki's new website with an online ordering function. It mentions that the chashu is made with pork cheek . . . anyone tried this?

            And here's the original site,

            4 Replies
            1. re: Melanie Wong

              I don't see the pork cheek reference, but I see they are still spelling tonkOtsu with an 'A'

              "House made boiled pork, half boiled egg, bamboo shoots, green onion, and red ginger in a tonkAtsu base"

              Both times I've been there I mentioned this to the server. Oh well.

              1. re: drewskiSF

                Oh well.

                From home page of .net site,

                "More about us!

                Try our most popular Chashu ramen: pork cheek that is slow-cooked until it is meltingly tender in a red ginger tonkatsu (garlic pork) broth with an assortment of vegetables. You can customize all broths to adjust to your preferred spice level. Our chefs are serving food catered to your liking. Don’t be afraid to pick up the bowl and pour down every last sip!"

                1. re: Melanie Wong

                  I'm pretty sure that Genki is Chinese-owned, which would explain the mistake. Also, they define tonkotsu (豚骨) as "garlic pork" when it actually means "pig bone".

                  1. re: Melanie Wong

                    OIC. i was staring intently at the menu page :)