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Jul 21, 2009 03:31 PM

Santouka Ramen will open in Bay Area?

saw a hiring ad. in bay spo, but not much detail info....

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  1. According to a small sign posted at the food court in Mitsuwa Market in San Jose, they will be opening up in the space they temporarily occupied last year: Hopefully, this installation will not be temporary.

    3 Replies
      1. re: Dave.Pitinga

        I'm pretty sure it's a permanent opening - i.e. they're actually opening a store here. In fact, I just called Mitsuwa San Jose and spoke to a guy who said they will be opening in a couple of weeks in the location indicated in the link above. While we had a hard time understanding each other, he clearly said that Santouka Ramen is (and I quote) "not temporary."

        Anyone know how Santouka Ramen compares to Ippudo?

        1. re: hong_kong_foodie

          I like Santouka better - I love the distinct seafood-y note of its broth, the ultra-fattiness of their special pork, and the texture of the noodles. To be honest, I wasn't blown away by Ippudo (noodles too thin and soft for me), and am in the minority that prefers Setagaya when the ramen wars rage on the Manhattan board. Santouka's my favorite though - I always go when I visit my folks in SoCal - am pretty excited about them opening nearby.

    1. September 17th - target opening day as per one of the clerks..

      3 Replies
      1. re: j q rizz

        Yes, they have models of their ramens and other dishes on display now. The grand opening will be September 17-19. The opening is also posted on the Mitsuwa website: I'm looking forward to a bowl of that shio ramen that they are famous for.

        1. re: Dave.Pitinga

          Here's a few pics of the booth almost ready to open. I loved their special pork ramen when I had it in Torrance, probably the best I've had so far.

          1. re: DezzerSF

            Just had the ramen in Torrance about a week ago. Always love this place when I'm in SoCal and am so happy it's opening here, though I wish they'd have a few more branches a bit further north. Halu is going to be shaking in their boots and poor Kahoo ramen in the same shopping complex -- don't know what they'll do. :-) I was in Mitsuwa yesterday and it looks as though they will have a ton of seating just like in their complex in Torrance. Only wish we could get another restaurant or two inside...

      2. So did anyone make it to the grand opening today? I'm planning on going tomorrow for dinner.

        4 Replies
        1. re: Humbucker

          Just came back from a very satisfying meal at Santouka Ramen. It was definitely good and clearly better than anything else we currently have in the bay area, but they're still working out some kinks and learning how to deal with the endless deluge of customers.

          In terms of the ramen, the tonkotsu broth was milky and well flavored with a seafood-based sweetness, the noodles were firm and chewy, and the prices were very reasonable (e.g. $8.50 total for a large bowl of ramen, if I remember correctly). The only thing that was a miss - and a big one, to be honest - was the chashu, which was a bit tough and definitely not the buttery, melt-in-your-mouth cuts of pork that Santouka is famous for. But of course, this was day one, and if what we had today is any indication of what is to come, we can certainly expect some really good ramen from this shop.

          One important piece of advice: GET THERE EARLY. They are open everyday but close early at 7:30pm (and really start cordoning off the line at 7:15pm) so if you show up any later, you might not be able to get the ramen!

          1. re: hong_kong_foodie

            Typical new Asian restaurant opening syndrome, there are always glitches.

            I remember Kahoo when they first opened, their soy sauce ramen literally had almost no dashi in it, making it taste pretty bad wacky. After a few months they ramped up quick (that was when the former Do-Henkotsu/Tokushima Ramen 2nd chef was still there, he went back to Japan earlier this year I hear)

            And Maruichi Ramen Mountain View...when they first opened, it was not that good. Wasn't until they introduced the kuro ramen thereabouts, when they finally got things together.

            But it sounds like Santouka's glitches are a lot fewer and better than the competition.

            Santouka is definitely excellent ramen for what we can get our hands on. I was lucky that I had a preview of it through last year's Hokkaido Fair (which I suppose was a soft test launch to see response), and got it also as instant noodle form from my brother in law (who got it as a gift from Japan 7-Eleven).

            Since we are all bored of the Santa's, Halu's, Maruichi's, and Ryowa's by now, I'm sure this is a very welcome addition to the Bay Area (and about time). Too bad this is part of a food court, and not a standalone ramen house with later hours. Looks like they've upgraded to porcelain type bowls instead of the styrofoam type that was used during the Hokkaido Fair.

            1. re: hong_kong_foodie

              I had the special pork (toroniku) ramen on the first day as well and found the chasu just as buttery as what I had in Torrance. The rich porky broth was very creamy with big umami taste. The only miss was the softer than ideal noodles, but I attribute it to opening day jitters.

              1. re: DezzerSF

                Adding photos of the toroniku ramen.

          2. Grand opening of Santouka Ramen in the Mitsuwa Market Thurs 9/17/09. It's on the Left once you're inside. We got there at 5:10pm no line, but by 7pm the line was really long.

            CASH ONLY!!

            Look at the plastic food in the glass case so you can look at the food & read the description.

            They are famous for their Shio Ramen (salt) w/ the creamy, fatty, milk-color broth.
            #1 salt flavor ramen Reg (Medium) size $7.95
            #2 small $6.95
            #3 Lg $8.95

            rice w/ salmon row (sic) $3.99
            Rice w/ leek $1.99
            Rice w/ natto $1.99
            Rice w/ pork $2.49

            Ramen & Salmon Roe Rice Bowl $11.94 - I'll try next time.
            flavors of ramen you can pick: salt, soy sauce, soybean paste

            Extra pork soy sauce flavor Reg $9.45/S $8.45/L $10.45

            etc., etc.

            They ran out of rice by 5pm. I got the Reg (medium) size Salt Flavor ramen $7.95 and really liked it. Broth is flavorful, noodles are nice & chewy, but not too chewy. There's no bean sprouts, but a few bamboo shoots, 1 red Japanese pickle (yes, u can eat it, just be aware there's a pit!), some wood ears thrown in the broth.

            Friend's friend said first 100 ppl get FREE ramen or something like that. That was earlier. Supposedly it'll be Fri & Sat too. Just GO & expect long lines!!

            CASH ONLY!! One ATM by the tables.

            Hokkaido Fair going on now thru 9/20/09

            Curry bun by Pullman Bakery $2.80 or 2 for $5
            milk flavor ice cream - vanilla or pear. Pear was nice & refreshing, not too fruity tasting. $2.75 CASH ONLY
            I saw the Minamoto Kitchoan Japanese Sweets on the Right side of the Entrance! Fukuwatashi senbei cookie $2.5 - same as SF. Rabbit cake box $20, loquat jelly $4. Saw a box of chocolate cinnamon cookies reg $10, 40% off $5.80 - should have bought - cute box!
            black sesame cookie w/ chocolate reg $10, 40% off $5.80 or so. Should have bought!

            1. Just got back from Santouka. I had a large bowl of the much vaunted shio ramen with extra pork. I wanted to get the toroniku ramen that comes with the special pork on the side, but they're having some supply problems right now and only the ramen is available, so no sides or set meals.

              I thought the ramen was just okay, but I have somewhat idiosyncratic tastes. I would say that the broth was very balanced tasting, in between Maru Ichi's unremarkable tonkotsu and the powerful smokiness of Ramen Halu's. Personally, I prefer the stronger, off-balance flavors of miso or sesame based ramen. I couldn't quite detect the seafood sweetness that others refer to. Also, the noodles got a little too soft after sitting in the broth for a few minutes. I did like the way they cut the chashu into thickish slabs, as opposed to the thin rounds found elsewhere. At every other ramen place I've been to a regular bowl is more than enough to satifsy me, but the large at Santouka was just right.

              My favorite ramen is still Kahoo's kotteri (or their tantanmen when I want something REALLY thick and hearty), but I'll give Santouka another try for their miso ramen and their toroniku.

              As a side note, I wonder if some of the savoriness of Santouka's broth has anything to do with that big box of ArmourĀ® Lard I saw when I peaked into the kitchen...

              5 Replies
              1. re: Humbucker

                I've heard rumors that Santouka's broth is made in Japan, frozen, then shipped to the U.S. branches...

                1. re: Wendy_san

                  I'm a devotee of Santouka here in LA...can't wait to compare the two when I'm in San Jose in two weeks. On that note, I'd love to host a dinner for a few friends at a great izakaya in the South Bay. Is there anything good? if not Japanese, any other awesome Asian that can compete with SoCal?

                  1. re: burglover

                    South Bay's best bet that is 100% Japanese is Hoshi in Santa Clara for izakaya fare. Might not be as good as the stuff exilekiss writes, but it's probably the best we have up here. The competition in Sunnyvale and Cupertino focus more on fusiony styles.

                    You can also try En in Santa Clara or Sumiya in San Jose for izakaya and yakitori respectively.

                    1. re: burglover

                      I like Tanto in San Jose, which is mentioned in the following article: I believe that their clam ramen scored high marks from Melanie Wong at one point in time.

                  2. re: Humbucker

                    Finally, it seems that the six-month period of statistical observations is over at Santouka and they are no longer rationing roasted pork jowl on a daily basis. So one can get a bowl of "toro shio" for dinner (they used to run out daily around 1:30-2 PM). Of course, ramen is probably not the best food metaphor to use for that dish, which is more like a fondue or shabu-shabu for melting the fat remaining in the roasted pork jowl, once the patron adds it to the piping hot broth (Shio? Tonkotsu? Both? Who cares; it's good.). This just might be the best bowl in the SOSF area, though the young crew at Orenchi in Santa Clara is also turning out a great product, as hkoide noted in a recent posting.