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Jun 11, 2010 12:56 AM

Ajisen coming to SF Westfield

I was rushing through the basement of Nordstrom Center when I noticed a Coming Soon sign for Ajisen Ramen. Does anyone have the scoop on when they're hoping to open? It looked completely boarded up, so I'm assuming it's going to be awhile.

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  1. It was first noted a couple of weeks ago Who knows what's going on behind that facade? It could be soon.

    1 Reply
    1. re: soupçon

      Early August according to the Ajisen website. Can't wait.

    2. I'm not familiar with this place. What are the best things to try?

      2 Replies
      1. re: The Librarian

        Ajisen is an international chain. Here's a thread from last year on the Fremont, CA location.

        1. re: The Librarian

          don't order the "hot" ramen, the heat (chiles) will hide all the natural flavors. i prefer the pork broth. forget what they call it at ajisen.

        2. I went by today. A message and telephone number for recruiting employees has been added to their billboard sign, so I assume something is happening behind that facade.

            1. re: soupçon


              SF Weekly's piece says that the SF location is the first in Northern California. Maybe the first for the LA franchisee ( There's been one in Fremont, CA for a few years now, . Or maybe there's another story behind the Fremont branch?

              1. re: Melanie Wong

                The Ajisen LA website lists the new SF branch, but not the Fremont restaurant:

                1. re: Cicely

                  The website also confuses "tonkatsu" (pork cutlets) with "tonkotsu" (pork bones) when describing their soup -- quite a common mistake among Chowhounds, but unusual for a ramen purveyor.

                  1. re: Tripeler

                    Is there an Ajisen site in Japanese that shows the world-wide locations?

                    1. re: Melanie Wong

                      On the Japan site I found a huge list of overseas locations.
                      The locations in the U.S. (including Fremont) are shown here


                      There are a huge number of locations in China and throughout Asia.

                      1. re: Tripeler

                        Thank you, so it looks like Fremont is an "official" branch. I had sort of wondered if there might be an infringement like with the China's Little Sheep chain or Hui Lau Shan.

                        1. re: Melanie Wong

                          Yes, but the new SF branch is still not indicated on the Japan website.

                          1. re: Melanie Wong

                            The little sheep in Fremont is not the same chain as the one I went to in Hohhot? When I saw the sign from a passing bus I must admit I got excited about the find. Melanie - can you give the scoop?

                            1. re: boris_qd

                              If you mean the one in Union City on the Fremont border, it's an "official" branch. But you might object to the prices if you've been to the mother ship.

                    2. re: Cicely

                      Right, which is the basis for my question.

                      There's another website,, but I can't get beyond the splash page.

                2. i had a late lunch at ajisen on thursday, the day after opening. it was about 4 PM and there was ample seating and a LOT of staff running around. i overheard someone next to me who had been there for the grand opening the day before, and he said it was a mad house. i ordered the premium pork, largely based on melanie wong's report on the fremont location last year.

                  i was astonished at the mound of pork that came with my bowl, considering the fact that this is a huge chain restaurant. and the pork was extremely tender and juicy. super thin shavings (not belly cut...shoulder?) of lush pork over finely chopped scallions and cabbage. a lot of it, or so it seemed to me. my ramen experiences are unfortunately limited to san francisco and one small chinese restaurant in tokyo, not a proper ramen-ya or stand but a family restaurant that happened to serve bleh ramen (visited a friend over the new year's celebrations. BAD timing).

                  so i'm not entirely sure how i feel about the rest of the bowl. the tonkotsu broth was milky and rich, but seemed one dimensional. i thought i sensed flecks of toasty browned fried shallot or some oniony flavor, but after awhile it just seemed too rich. i was also very thirsty when i got there, and the ice water and the citron iced tea (think korean yuja cha, or a sweet, marmalade-like yuzu product dissolved in water. bracing, bright, and delicious) just didn't seem quenching enough. but it wasn't salt i was trying to wash away, it was just a sort of blanket richness. the noodles were firm enough but did soften a bit.

                  i found myself wanting other components to balance the richness of the broth and the generous pork, and the scallions and cabbage weren't doing it. i wanted something vegetal, or some contrast. i started off enjoying the bowl quite a bit but at the end i couldn't finish it.

                  i'm being rather critical, but i did enjoy it and on jaunts to the mall will go back and try other bowls, but the premium pork ended up being a little too rich for me.

                  service is extremely friendly if awkward, but this was day 2 after all, and i expected worse.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: augustiner

                    Finally made it here last night with a couple of friends. Service is friendly; it's a very clean fast food experience.

                    Augustiner describes my ramen perfectly. Noodles were okay, pork was decent, but the broth had no flavor. I also thought the cabbage was old.

                    One friend had the vegetarian bowl which looked nice. He and his son both put a lot of sri-racha in. They loved the citron hot tea and lychee boba drinks. We also had a tiny agedashi tofu and potato croquettes. It was okay, but that's all. I asked for shchimi (sp?) to add a little flavor.

                    Are the miso or shoyu broths any better?It seems like this could be much more flavorful without a lot of work.

                    1. re: Windy

                      Totally agree. I'm not even eager to try the other broths.

                      1. re: Windy

                        Ajisen is from Kumamoto so the tonkotsu is their signature broth (i.e. probably the best to try). They put fried garlic into the broth which might be the flecks Augustliner mentioned.

                        I haven't eaten at the Westfield branch, but thought the broth was decent in Fremont. It's a different franchisee so probably not apples to apples.