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Best ramen between SFO and Berkeley?

Lina Jun 5, 2009 09:25 AM

I'm coming to the Bay Area soon and cannot wait for the opportunity to hit up some ramen (London is seriously lacking). So much so that I'd love to get some on my way home from the airport.

Where should I go? Any obvious choices between SFO and the East Bay or relatively nearby? I don't know much about the No Cal ramen scene but have about 10 days to try and learn everything, so any suggestions would be appreciated.

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  1. k
    kc72 RE: Lina Jun 5, 2009 09:35 AM

    Here is one poster's personal rankings http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/622369

    4 Replies
    1. re: kc72
      Melanie Wong RE: kc72 Jun 8, 2009 12:25 AM

      Thanks for dredging that up. I'll mention again that the rankings are not for the restaurants overall, but for specific, individual bowls of ramen ordered at each. Even the top ramen places around here have clunkers on their menus, so if you stray from their specialty, it's a whole different and lesser experience.

      1. re: Melanie Wong
        Lina RE: Melanie Wong Jun 16, 2009 02:44 PM

        Thanks for pointing that out, Melanie. I'd love to get a tonkotsu ramen so it looks like Himarwari might be the place to go on this list. Did I mention not a single place in London serves tonkotsu ramen? Criminal.

        1. re: Lina
          Melanie Wong RE: Lina Jun 16, 2009 04:02 PM

          Lina, glad you posted this. I would not go to Himawari for tonkotsu, the best stock there is the shio, which I love. If pork bone soup is your desire, then head to Santa. With the caveat that I've not been to the new location, it should be quite satisfactory, made in a classic style with the red ginger garnish. You might want to try to convince your "chauffeur" to order the shoyu stock there, which is my favorite broth at Santa, so that you can taste it too.

          1. re: Melanie Wong
            Lina RE: Melanie Wong Jun 22, 2009 10:13 AM

            I went to Santa and was very pleased. I was sort of hoping for a life-changing bowl of ramen, which it wasn't, but it was still great. I think maybe after travelling for 20 hours no ramen is going to be life changing. I had the pork ramen and also got to try some of the miso one. No one in my party went for the shoyu one, unfortunately. May try and stop in again on the way back to the airport to give it another go. Thanks again for the advice!

    2. wolfe RE: Lina Jun 5, 2009 09:37 AM

      Here is the Melanie Wong ramen ranking. The highest ranked on your journey is #14.
      14.Norikonoko, 2556 Telegraph Ave, Berkeley
      Edit: kc's Melanie list is newer than my Melanie list and Norikonoko is now #15 but still the first between SFO and Berkeley via the Bay Bridge.

      1. s
        srr RE: Lina Jun 5, 2009 10:02 AM

        Drive just a little out of your way (about 10 min.) when you get off the plane at SFO and go to Santa Ramen in San Mateo. Definitely worth the detour.

        Santa Ramen Japanese Restaurant
        1944 South El Camino Real, San Mateo, CA

        2 Replies
        1. re: srr
          Lina RE: srr Jun 5, 2009 03:30 PM

          The Curmudgeon has just informed me that he is willing to make a detour for any of the following:
          3. Santa, 805 S B St, San Mateo
          4. Himawari, 202 2nd Ave, San Mateo
          6. Izakaya Mai, 212 2nd Avenue, San Mateo

          Is this the same Santa Ramen in a new location? I cannot tell you how excited I am to have a good bowl of ramen. Had a some today in London that was excellent by London standards and mediocre at best by any other.

          1. re: Lina
            sfbing RE: Lina Jun 5, 2009 04:17 PM

            Santa Ramen moved from S B St. to a larger and more comfortable location. The other bonus is that there is a Nijiya Supermarket there for all your Japanese grocery shopping needs.

            Tip: You can specify how hard you want your noodles cooked at Santa, which really is the way it should be at a ramen-ya.

            Santa Ramen Japanese Restaurant
            1944 South El Camino Real, San Mateo, CA

        2. wolfe RE: Lina Jun 7, 2009 04:40 PM

          Here's one that doesn't seem to be on Melanie's list but has some nice things said about it and is not that far out of your way, Asuka Ramen.

          1 Reply
          1. re: wolfe
            pumakat RE: wolfe Jun 23, 2009 12:26 AM

            Katana-ya....it's the best. a tiny unassuming little place with amazing pork ramen.

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