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Kakuni Ramen at Hana Japanese Restaurant in Rohnert Park

Melanie Wong May 24, 2009 11:40 PM

Four years ago, I posted about at a trip to the sushi bar at Hana Japanese Restaurant near the Doubletree in Rohnert Park. http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/38521

At that time I noted some cooked dishes on the menu that had more appeal than the sushi. I recently returned to try the braised pork belly. For lunch only, Hana serves ramen, just one kind, with kakuni (braised pork belly) and a soft poached egg topping the noodles, $12.

My waitress noticed me studying the sake list and asked if I needed assistance choosing one. I declined saying that I had too much yet to do that afternoon to partake, then she indicated that I could order a half-taste, rather than the full 4 oz. tastes shown on the menu. Sold! I went with the dry-ish Akita ginjo sake for $5. The small glass overflowed to the black lacquered masu, and I’m sure was more than 2 ounces, so a good deal. I also ordered a pot of hot tea. A small dish of edamame was complimentary.

Tea, Akita ginjo sake, complimentary edamame -
http://www.flickr.com/photos/melaniewong/3557692762/

Unlike the places that specialize in ramen and whip out an order in a flash, a bowl of noodles here takes a bit longer even though the place was clearing out. I didn’t mind, as I had the chance to observe the sushi chefs breaking down fish for the case. The whole tai looked particularly glorious and fresh. A couple large work bowls full of racks and discarded fish parts went back into the kitchen, and I found myself hopeing that these found their way into the ramen stock recipe.

My bowl of ramen was presented on a lacquer tray with a shaker of Japanese pepper. It may seem small, but the narrow bowl was quite deep and has a larger capacity that it looks. The wavy noodles started out relatively firm but soon turned too soft in the hot stock. However, that’s the only real complaint I can make about this bowl.

The promised soft cooked egg was hidden under the sheets of toasty nori, submerged below the surface. Slightly colored whites from the seasoning liquid and jelly-like not quite set deeply colored yolks, the halved egg was near perfection in texture and subtle flavor. Two thick slabs of braised pork were rimmed with fat and looked more like loin cuts than belly. I asked my server about this and she assured me they were pork belly. Not marbled or striated with enough fat for my taste, I’d ask for a fatty portion next time. Yet, for lean meat, this was not dried out or stringy. The tender flesh pulled apart easily and was well-flavored from the braising. The other toppings were good too. Wakame, fresh spinach leaves, and chopped scallions floated over the noodles. The best part of this bowl was the shoyu stock. Meaty with roasted pork and poultry tones, the stock also had a sweet and briny ocean breeze of seafood flavors swirling through the complex brew. Remarkably light textured, restrained in salting and non-greasy, Hana managed to take away much of the fat and salt, yet still create a ramen stock that’s very flavorful, well-balanced and authentic tasting.

Kakune ramen -
http://www.flickr.com/photos/melaniewong/3557692752

For this showing, Hana Japanese earns the #12 slot in the ramen ranking.

PERSONAL RAMEN RANKING
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.Katanaya, 430 Geary Blvd., San Francisco
18.Masa's Sushi, 400 San Antonio Road, Mountain View
19.Gochi, 19980 Homestead Rd, Cupertino
20.Oyaji, 3123 Clement St, San Francisco
21.Halu Restaurant, 312 8th Ave, San Francisco
22.Sanmi, 3226 Geary Blvd, San Francisco
23.Maru Ichi, 530 Barber Lane, Milpitas
24.Hatcho, 1271 Franklin Mall, Santa Clara
25.Kahoo, 4330 Moorpark Ave, San Jose
26.Tomoe, 810 3rd St, San Rafael (closed)
27.Ringer Hut, 1072 Saratoga Ave, San Jose
28.Watami Shabu Shabu and Ramen, 5344 Geary Blvd, San Francisco
29.Kumako, 211 E. Jackson Street, San Jose
30.Japanese Restaurant Hoshi, 246 Saratoga Avenue, Santa Clara
31.Ramen Club, 723 California Dr, Burlingame
32.Ryowa, 2068 University Ave, Berkeley (after ownership change)
33.King Won Ton, 1936 Irving St, San Francisco
34.Tazaki Sushi, 3420 Judah St, San Francisco
35.Ramen Rama, 19774 Stevens Creek Blvd, Cupertino (closed)
36.Ogi-San Ramen, 10789 Blaney Ave, Cupertino (closed)
37.Kaimuki Grill, 104 S El Camino Real, San Mateo
38.Tanto, 1306 Saratoga Ave, San Jose
39.Okazu Ya SF (Noriega), 2445 Noriega St, San Francisco
40.King's Garden Ramen, 39055 Cedar Blvd, Newark (closed)
41.Sushi Bistro, 445 Balboa St, San Francisco
42.Genki Ramen, 3944 Geary Blvd, San Francisco
43.Mitsuwa Hokkaido festival booth, 675 Saratoga Ave, San Jose
44.Lakuni, 325 E 4th Ave, San Mateo
45.100% Healthy Desserts, 1155 Taraval St., San Francisco
46.Mifune, 1737 Post St, San Francisco
47.H2A Noodle, 42318 Fremont Blvd., Fremont (closed)
48.Iroha, 1728 Buchanan St, San Francisco
49.Miraku Noodles, 2131 N Broadway, Walnut Creek
50.Manpuku, 2977 College Ave, Berkeley
51.Tanpopo, 1740 Buchanan Street, San Francisco
52.Sushi Yoshi, 39261 Cedar Blvd, Newark
53.La Shang Niang Ramen (OEC), 42 Dixon Rd, Milpitas
54.Oidon, 71 E. 4th Avenue, San Mateo
55.Taraval Okazu Ya, 1735 Taraval St., San Francisco
56.Suzu Noodle House, 1581 Webster Street, San Francisco
57.Fresh Taste, 2107 El Camino Real, Palo Alto
58.Sapporo-ya, 1581 Webster St, San Francisco
59.Tokyo Ramen, 678 Barber Lane, Milpitas (closed)
60.Kamakura, 2549 Santa Clara Ave, Alameda
61.Mama-san!, 312 8th Ave, San Francisco (closed)
62.Katana-ya Ramen, 10546 San Pablo Ave, El Cerrito
63.Hotei, 1290 9th Ave, San Francisco
64.Bear's Ramen House, 2521 Durant, Berkeley

THE RAMEN KING AND I: How the Inventor of Instant Noodles Fixed My Love Life
http://www.andyraskin.com/appearances...

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Hana Japanese Restaurant
101 Golf Course Drive, Rohnert Park, CA 94928