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Aug 15, 2010 10:52 PM

Saiwaii Ramen [San Francisco]

Yes, it's open now.
Ramen (miso, shio, shoyu, tonkotsu) for $7.95, price includes chasu (it's homemade, pretty good), menma, nori, kikurage mushrooms and green onions. Surprisingly a boiled egg is NOT included. Add half boiled egg, corn, spinach, butter, kikurage mushrooms, and negi (spring onions) for $1 each - PRICEY!!. Extra chasu for $2, add pork belly for $3 more.

Other menu items: 6 donburi, 10 appetizers (edamame, gyoza, karaage, tempura, etc.), 6 salads, and 8 Americanized sushi (California roll, dragon roll, spider roll, etc.). All the dinnerware looks elegant.

The chicken karaage was pretty good. California roll and tempura also nice. On the other hand the ramen was just okay, not bad. The Tonkotsu broth was non greasy and weak on flavor, a bit similar to Himawari's tonkotsu. Not as good as Santa Ramen or Izakaya Sozai. The noodles are exactly like supermarket fresh (not dried) ramen noodles. The person next to me said that the miso broth was also somewhat weak. I hope that the shio and shoyu versions are better.

The place inside is very nice and clean. Servers were swamped with orders, most everyone had to wait 30 minutes or more for their food. All the food I saw and sampled was well prepared. The fried food was excellent. I wasn't expecting much so for me it was an enjoyable meal. The other people waiting a long time might not say the same thing.

Hours: daily 11am-3pm and 5-10pm (Fri-Sat 5-11pm).

202 2nd Ave, San Mateo, CA 94401

Izakaya Sozai
1500 Irving St, San Francisco, CA 94122

Saiwaii Ramen
2240 Irving St, San Francisco, CA 94122

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  1. Thanks for the opening report, L C! I heard a rumor that Yoshi Fujita, the owner of now closed Yo's Sushi Club would be working there. Any word on that?

    Link to original discussion:

    Yo's Sushi Club
    3369 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94110

    7 Replies
    1. re: Melanie Wong

      Had not heard anything about that, but I'll update if I find any news about it.

      1. re: Melanie Wong

        Confirmed, Yoshi Fujita is the sushi chef. But sushi choices on the menu are very limited, so he doesn't get to show his talent.

        1. re: L C

          Saiwaii Ramen
          2240 Irving
          (415) 665-7888

          Saiwaii Ramen
          2240 Irving St, San Francisco, CA 94122

          1. re: L C

            Not to sound sarcastic, but in my opinion, he didn't get to show his talent either at Yo's Sushi Club, since that place was so small and didn't even have a stove.

            Sushi Club
            415 N Mary Ave Ste 104, Sunnyvale, CA 94085

            1. re: L C

              Thanks for the follow-up, L C!

              And note to Vincent, remember, Hama-ko doesn't have a stove either. :-J

              Hama-Ko Sushi
              108B Carl St, San Francisco, CA 94117

              1. re: Melanie Wong

                Really?! Hama-Ko looks quite a bit bigger than Yoshi's Sushi Club though. And I think Hama-Ko's sushi is a step up in quality (and of course price as well) than Yoshi's.

                1. re: vincentlo

                  Yep, really. Hama-ko doesn't have a stove or a vent for cooking. I consider Hama-ko high quality but never went to Yo's so can't offer a direct comparison.

          2. I went back, the tonkotsu broth has improved significantly. No longer weak, much better flavor now. Doesn't change what I said of SR and IS having better tonkotsu, but now the milky white soup is decent enough. The noodles are still the same, but the chasu pork is now sliced thinner, instead of the thick cuts (3 pieces) during the first week.

            This week they have 2 "special" ramen toppings (add $3): pork cheeks & buta kakuni (braised pork belly). The kakuni was delicious, big thick cubes of fatty pork belly. Excellent flavor! Yes, Santa Ramen has a better version that is meatier. But saves me the trouble of going to San Mateo. I have not forgotten that Izakaya Sozai & Oyaji have great kakuni too.

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

            Oyaji Restaurant
            3123 Clement St, San Francisco, CA 94121

            Izakaya Sozai
            1500 Irving St, San Francisco, CA 94122

            1 Reply
            1. re: L C

              i was there last Friday and gave them a 2 star review on Yelp! for their tonkotsu ramen.

              over the weekend i got a message from an employee that said there were experimenting with more pork broth in the broth based on feedback in various online reviews they've seen.

              sounds like the comments about bland broth are having a positive impact on their quality!

            2. Well, it took more than two years, but I finally made it in to Saiwaii Ramen in December. We ordered the lunch sets that include a bowl of ramen plus sushi maki. The sushi --- California rolls and spicy tuna maki --- might be more successful than the ramen here.

              Mom had the shio ramen that tasted of little more than salt (shio). Quite telling that she did not want to take the rest of her broth home, as she usually does with other soup noodles. I ordered the tonkotsu ramen that suffered from the same lack of intensity and focus. Thin noodles turned soft in the soup. Chashu was pretty good, the other toppings were a mess.

              It’s not bad, just feels perfunctory. Saiwaii enters the ramen ranking at #55.

              1. Ramen Halu, 375 Saratoga Ave Ste M, San Jose
              2. Tsujita, 2057 Sawtelle Blvd, Los Angeles
              3. Himawari, 202 2nd Ave, San Mateo
              4. Orenchi Ramen, 3540 Homestead Rd, Santa Clara
              5. Santouka, 675 Saratoga Ave, San Jose
              6. Maru Ichi, 368 Castro St, Mountain View
              7. Izakaya Mai, 212 2nd Avenue, San Mateo
              8. Gaku Japanese Charcoal Grill, 5152 Moorpark Ave, San Jose
              9. Ajisen Noodle, 47890 Warm Springs Blvd, Fremont
              10. Maru Ichi, 530 Barber Lane, Milpitas
              11. Ramen Dojo, 805 South B St, San Mateo
              12. Shalala, 698 W Dana St, Mountain View
              13. Tanto, 1063 E El Camino Real, Sunnyvale
              14. Izakaya Restaurant, 1335 N 1st St, San Jose
              15. Alexander’s Steakhouse Lounge, 10330 N Wolfe Rd, Cupertino
              16. Santa, 1944 South El Camino Real, San Mateo (post-move)
              17. Do-Henkotsu House of Tokushima Ramen, 4330 Moorpark Ave, San Jose (closed)
              18. Ramen Tenma, 487 Saratoga Ave, San Jose
              19. Ryowa, 859 Villa St, Mountain View
              20. Orson Restaurant Bar + Lounge, 508 4th St, San Francisco (closed)
              21. Sumiya, 2634 Homestead Rd, Santa Clara
              22. Gen Ramen, 47890 Warm Springs Blvd, Fremont (closed)
              23. Hana Japanese Restaurant, 101 Golf Course Dr, Rohnert Park
              24. Ken Ken Ramen, pop-up at The Corner, San Francisco (closed, moved)
              25. Kyora Japanese Restaurant, 1217 Wildwood Ave, Sunnyvale (closed)
              26. BY Grill, 3226 Geary Blvd, San Francisco (closed)
              27. Norikonoko, 2556 Telegraph Ave, Berkeley
              28. Dohatsuten, 799 San Antonio Rd, Palo Alto
              29. Hana, 4320 Moorpark, San Jose
              30. Ozumo, 2251 Broadway, Oakland
              31. Muracci’s, 244 State St, Los Altos
              32. Katanaya, 430 Geary Blvd., San Francisco
              33. Tadamasa, 34672 Alvarado Niles Road, Union City
              34. Masa's Sushi, 400 San Antonio Road, Mountain View
              35. Ippuku, 2130 Center St, Berkeley
              36. Nombe, 2491 Mission St, San Francisco
              37. Gochi, 19980 Homestead Rd, Cupertino
              38. Oyaji, 3123 Clement St, San Francisco
              39. Ramen Misoya, 3541 Homestead Rd, Santa Clara
              40. Ame Restaurant, 689 Mission St, San Francisco
              41. Yu-Raku, 104 S El Camino Real, San Mateo
              42. Namu, 439 Balboa St, San Francisco (moved)
              43. Halu Restaurant, 312 8th Ave, San Francisco
              44. Sanmi, 3226 Geary Blvd, San Francisco (closed)
              45. Hatcho, 1271 Franklin Mall, Santa Clara
              46. Kahoo, 4330 Moorpark Ave, San Jose
              47. Tomoe, 810 3rd St, San Rafael (closed)
              48. Ringer Hut, 1072 Saratoga Ave, San Jose
              49. Noodle Theory, 3242 Scott St, San Francisco (closed)
              50. Watami Shabu Shabu and Ramen, 5344 Geary Blvd, San Francisco (closed)
              51. Where’s Buta by Elgin Espiritu and June Lee, Eat Real Festival, Oakland
              52. Kumako, 211 E. Jackson Street, San Jose
              53. Japanese Restaurant Hoshi, 246 Saratoga Avenue, Santa Clara
              54. Ramen Club, 723 California Dr, Burlingame
              55. Saiwaii Ramen, 2240 Irving St, San Francisco
              56. Ryowa, 2068 University Ave, Berkeley (after ownership change)
              57. King Won Ton, 1936 Irving St, San Francisco
              58. Tazaki Sushi, 3420 Judah St, San Francisco
              59. Ramen Rama, 19774 Stevens Creek Blvd, Cupertino (closed)
              60. Ogi-San Ramen, 10789 Blaney Ave, Cupertino (closed)
              61. Kaimuki Grill, 104 S El Camino Real, San Mateo (closed)
              62. Tanto, 1306 Saratoga Ave, San Jose (now Dan Izakaya)
              63. Okazu Ya SF (Noriega), 2445 Noriega St, San Francisco
              64. King's Garden Ramen, 39055 Cedar Blvd, Newark (closed)
              65. Sushi Bistro, 445 Balboa St, San Francisco (closed, moved
              )66. Genki Ramen, 3944 Geary Blvd, San Francisco
              67. Mitsuwa Hokkaido festival booth, 675 Saratoga Ave, San Jose
              68. Dan Izakaya, 1306 Saratoga Ave, San Jose
              69. Lakuni, 325 E 4th Ave, San Mateo
              70. 100% Healthy Desserts, 1155 Taraval St., San Francisco
              71. Mifune, 1737 Post St, San Francisco
              72. H2A Noodle, 42318 Fremont Blvd., Fremont (closed)
              73. Iroha, 1728 Buchanan St, San Francisco
              74. Miraku Noodles, 2131 N Broadway, Walnut Creek
              75. Manpuku, 2977 College Ave, Berkeley
              76. Tanpopo, 1740 Buchanan Street, San Francisco
              77. Sushi Yoshi, 39261 Cedar Blvd, Newark
              78. La Shang Niang Ramen (OEC), 42 Dixon Rd, Milpitas (closed)
              79. Oidon, 71 E. 4th Avenue, San Mateo
              80. Taraval Okazu Ya, 1735 Taraval St., San Francisco
              81. Suzu Noodle House, 1581 Webster Street, San Francisco
              82. Bushido Izakaya, 156 Castro St, Mountain View
              83. Fresh Taste, 2107 El Camino Real, Palo Alto
              84. Asuka Ramen, 883 Bush St, San Francisco (closed)
              85. Sapporo-ya, 1581 Webster St, San Francisco
              86. Tokyo Ramen, 678 Barber Lane, Milpitas (closed)
              87. Kamakura, 2549 Santa Clara Ave, Alameda
              88. Mama-san!, 312 8th Ave, San Francisco (closed)
              89. Katana-ya Ramen, 10546 San Pablo Ave, El Cerrito
              90. Hotei, 1290 9th Ave, San Francisco
              91. Bear's Ramen House, 2521 Durant, Berkeley