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Mar 22, 2010 12:36 PM

Ramen Dojo San Mateo (coming April 2010)

Many of you remember Santa Ramen's original spot (up the street from Everyday Beijing) before they moved across Nijiya.

So it looks like a new ramen place will open there, called Ramen Dojo, supposedly April sometime.

Apparently they are going to specialize in spicy ramen, specifically Sutamina Ramen (aka Stamina Ramen). Couldn't find too much info about the bowl, except one or two places in LA offer that, as does one ramen joint in NY. One of the bowls was a spicy miso ramen with what looked like Japanese Chinese stir fried veggie mix (cabbage, bean sprouts) on top.

If you drive by and see more, please report back.

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  1. I saw this, obviously someone hoping to cash in on good ramen karma at that site! Though they have some of the darkest tinted windows I've seen, from what I could see the place looked pretty finished inside. I hope it turns out to be an interesting option - I don't find myself drawn to Santa anymore and it'd be nice to have another ramen choice in SM.

    1. Went there tonight, not knowing if they were open yet, but they were. Only one person at the counter and then us at a table for two (the place seats 24 with another 7 or 8 at the counter). Another party of two came in later. But this is bound to change -- I think this place will become very popular as it's the only restaurant in the Bay Area that serves this style of ramen, at least as far as I know.

      The ramen soup base is made up of ground chicken, ginger, shiitake and dried shrimp with added chili oil that makes it turn red. You can get shouyu, miso or tonkotsu flavor and a spiciness of mild, regular or extra hot. I do not generally like spicy food and the mild spicy was just fine for me. My husband had regular spicy and liked that too. All bowls come with shredded red pepper, quail egg, and roasted garlic and bbq pork slices (chashu) and they are priced at 8.95. Extra toppings (there are many to choose from) are about $2.50 each. Right now this is all that is on the menu. Hopefully they will offer some appetizers in the future.

      Noodles are excellent with kata yude texture (al dente). Ramen Dojo is a really good addition to the ramen scene.

      No beer license yet and the only drinks available or Calpico, Ramune, Iced Coffee and Iced Oolong tea.

      2 Replies
      1. re: Wendy_san

        Thanks for the report. The folks from Santa own this too but sounds like the execution is much better.

        1. re: Wendy_san

          I tried it today, and came away pretty impressed. I had the tonkotsu (as mentioned, referred to here as "bitter pork"), regular spicy. It had a lot of the same umami that the old Santa pork base had, with a nice fishy undertone from the shrimp. Noodles were plentiful and al dente, shredded pepper and whole garlic cloves were a nice touch. For $8.95, it certainly constitutes a better value than the ramen at the newer location.

        2. I tried Ramen Dojo on Friday too. As I walked up to the door, I checked this thread to see what Wendy had ordered and saw that Deeg67 had just posted on lunch. Since you had the tonkotsu (bitter pork), I ordered the shouyu (soy sauce flavor) as that had been my favorite stock at Santa. I went with “regular spicy” and asked for the noodles “firm”.

          The place looks quite nice now, as it had been kind of rundown toward the end of Santa’s tenure. Still casual with the same lay-out, but freshly appointed with clean, modern lines and dark woods. Were there any tenants in between? Here’s the menu:

          The presentation looks great and the quality exceeds what I was served my last visit to Santa. This feels like where the owner’s love and passion are focused now. A lot of care has gone into designing and building this bowl of noodles.

          While the three basic stocks are the same as Santa plus the extra spice hit, the toppings are next generation. The roast pork is made with the belly cut, two thickish slabs per serving. Rather plain though and looking more like boiled meat with some singeing on the rind, the cold serving temperature made the texture firmer and greasy tasting. But this is a major improvement over Santa’s cha shu or stringy stewed pork. I loved the dollop of chicken gravy, what looks like the lava flow in the upper right section of the bowl. Made with ground chicken, shitake mushroom, ginger and dried shrimp, the gravy diffuses in a slow swirl at a snail’s pace. Its umami payload hits some spoonfuls and not others, breaking through and changing up the chili oil monotones.

          The runny-yolked quail egg may be small, but it's a big step-up over Santa’s plain old hard-boiled egg. I think I’ll order extra of these petite gushers next time. The fresh, raw Chinese chives were a surprise, as I’ve only had these sautéed before which brings out more flavor. Yet, raw is probably best here, as the springy greenness added welcome high tones to the aroma and taste. Some crunchy kikurage (wood ear fungus) contributed crunch, and to my liking, no bamboo shoots as a standard topping. Also truly delectable, the squishy, dark brown, fried-till-sweet whole garlic cloves are Dojo’s one-uppance on the kuro (black) garlic oil craze.

          Noodles were more than firm, actually too hard at the core, so now I know I don’t need to make a special request. But they did soften up somewhat with time in the hot stock rendering them supple, smooth and chewy.

          Ordered at regular strength, the spicy heat continued to grow as the chili flakes, shredded Korean-style red pepper and sesame-chili oil steeped in the stock. This made it difficult to assess the stock, and while exciting and stimulating to try out, I didn’t want to drink much of it. With the high salt and flavor quotient, I might add some cabbage next time for balance. I’m not sure that shoyu is the best back drop for this spicy style of ramen, and I might enjoy the miso or tonkotsu on a future visit more.

          Open less than a month, Ramen Dojo weighs in at Number 8 on the personal ramen ranking. I’ll be returning to try the other offerings and expect that Dojo will climb in the ratings.

          1. Ramen Halu, 375 Saratoga Ave Ste M, San Jose
          2. Santouka @ Mitsuwa Hokkaido Festival, 675 Saratoga Ave, San Jose
          3. Himawari, 202 2nd Ave, San Mateo
          4. Orenchi Ramen, 3540 Homestead Rd, Santa Clara
          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. Ramen Dojo, 805 South B St, San Mateo
          9. Ryowa, 859 Villa St, Mountain View
          10. Tanto, 1063 E El Camino Real, Sunnyvale
          11. Santa, 1944 South El Camino Real, San Mateo (post-move)
          12. Do-Henkotsu House of Tokushima Ramen, 4330 Moorpark Ave, San Jose (closed)
          13. Sumiya, 2634 Homestead Rd, Santa Clara
          14.Gen Ramen, 47890 Warm Springs Blvd, Fremont (closed)
          15.Hana Japanese Restaurant, 101 Golf Course Dr, Rohnert Park
          16.Izakaya Restaurant, 1335 N 1st St, San Jose
          17.BY Grill, 3226 Geary Blvd, San Francisco (closed)
          18.Norikonoko, 2556 Telegraph Ave, Berkeley
          19.Hana, 4320 Moorpark, San Jose
          20.Ozumo, 2251 Broadway, Oakland
          21.Dohatsuten, 799 San Antonio Rd, Palo Alto
          22.Katanaya, 430 Geary Blvd., San Francisco
          23.Masa's Sushi, 400 San Antonio Road, Mountain View
          24.Gochi, 19980 Homestead Rd, Cupertino
          25.Oyaji, 3123 Clement St, San Francisco
          26.Halu Restaurant, 312 8th Ave, San Francisco
          27.Sanmi, 3226 Geary Blvd, San Francisco
          28.Maru Ichi, 530 Barber Lane, Milpitas
          29.Hatcho, 1271 Franklin Mall, Santa Clara
          30.Kahoo, 4330 Moorpark Ave, San Jose
          31.Tomoe, 810 3rd St, San Rafael (closed)
          32.Ringer Hut, 1072 Saratoga Ave, San Jose
          33.Noodle Theory, 3242 Scott St, San Francisco
          34.Watami Shabu Shabu and Ramen, 5344 Geary Blvd, San Francisco (closed)
          35.Where’s Buta by Elgin Espiritu and June Lee, Eat Real Festival, Oakland
          36.Kumako, 211 E. Jackson Street, San Jose
          37.Japanese Restaurant Hoshi, 246 Saratoga Avenue, Santa Clara
          38.Ramen Club, 723 California Dr, Burlingame
          39.Ryowa, 2068 University Ave, Berkeley (after ownership change)
          40.King Won Ton, 1936 Irving St, San Francisco
          41.Tazaki Sushi, 3420 Judah St, San Francisco
          42.Ramen Rama, 19774 Stevens Creek Blvd, Cupertino (closed)
          43.Ogi-San Ramen, 10789 Blaney Ave, Cupertino (closed)
          44.Kaimuki Grill, 104 S El Camino Real, San Mateo (closed)
          45.Tanto, 1306 Saratoga Ave, San Jose
          46.Okazu Ya SF (Noriega), 2445 Noriega St, San Francisco
          47.King's Garden Ramen, 39055 Cedar Blvd, Newark (closed)
          48.Sushi Bistro, 445 Balboa St, San Francisco
          49.Genki Ramen, 3944 Geary Blvd, San Francisco
          50.Mitsuwa Hokkaido festival booth, 675 Saratoga Ave, San Jose
          51.Lakuni, 325 E 4th Ave, San Mateo
          52.100% Healthy Desserts, 1155 Taraval St., San Francisco
          53.Mifune, 1737 Post St, San Francisco
          54.H2A Noodle, 42318 Fremont Blvd., Fremont (closed)
          55.Iroha, 1728 Buchanan St, San Francisco
          56.Miraku Noodles, 2131 N Broadway, Walnut Creek
          57.Manpuku, 2977 College Ave, Berkeley
          58.Tanpopo, 1740 Buchanan Street, San Francisco
          59.Sushi Yoshi, 39261 Cedar Blvd, Newark
          60.La Shang Niang Ramen (OEC), 42 Dixon Rd, Milpitas
          61.Oidon, 71 E. 4th Avenue, San Mateo
          62.Taraval Okazu Ya, 1735 Taraval St., San Francisco
          63.Suzu Noodle House, 1581 Webster Street, San Francisco
          64.Bushido Izakaya, 156 Castro St, Mountain View
          65.Fresh Taste, 2107 El Camino Real, Palo Alto
          66.Asuka Ramen, 883 Bush St, San Francisco
          67.Sapporo-ya, 1581 Webster St, San Francisco
          68.Tokyo Ramen, 678 Barber Lane, Milpitas (closed)
          69.Kamakura, 2549 Santa Clara Ave, Alameda
          70.Mama-san!, 312 8th Ave, San Francisco (closed)
          71.Katana-ya Ramen, 10546 San Pablo Ave, El Cerrito
          72.Hotei, 1290 9th Ave, San Francisco
          73.Bear's Ramen House, 2521 Durant, Berkeley

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

          Ramen Dojo
          805 S B St, San Mateo, CA 94401

          2 Replies
          1. re: Melanie Wong

            Read this thread, and I was feeling a bit lousy because of my allergies and thought of Dojao - a nice antidote by all accounts. Unfortunately, they do not provide take-away containers ! They will only serve take-away if you have your own container.

            I'll try it out another time in person and report back.


            1. re: osho

              I overheard an exchange about this with some customers. I didn't quite get the full jist of it, thanks for the rest of the story.

          2. Hey ramen geeks, here's your shout-out in "7x7",
            Just ignore the San Francisco provincialism/attitude. This reviewer needed to learn more about Japanese food. Glad she got out of the City to widen her culinary horizons.