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ken ken ramen? in the mission [SF]

yesterday i was strolling through the neighborhood with two friends . on 22nd st i noticed a red paper ramen lantern hanging outside of panchita's #3. curious, we walked up and saw menus in the window advertising $11 bowls of ramen available only on sundays.

i've since done some research and i guess this pop-up ramen joint is called ken ken ramen, although there was no such name on the menus. they just said "ramen." and i guess that this was previously open only on mondays, but they've switched to sundays.

i ordered the shio broth, described as okinawan flavored. my friends each got miso ramen. they got theirs without meat, but mine came with three slightly thick, fairly tender and moist slices of cha-su pork shoulder, bamboo shoots, scallions, bean sprouts, and soft boiled marinated egg. saw some images online where the bowls come with mizuna, nori, and kamaboko, but ours didn't. although they were listed on the menu under "extras" for an additional $3. so altogether, not the cheapest bowl around...BUT i it was actually pretty decent.

well, i wish i had ordered the miso ramen, as a spoonful of my friend's broth revealed it to be more complex and generally more delicious. my shio broth tasted fine, if a bit light. it tasted mostly of chicken, and i was expecting pork notes. the noodles were fairly firm and stayed so, and the marinated soft egg was a textural delight, after too many green tinged overboiled eggs in SF. bamboo shoots seemed more generic than the photos of long, young whole shoots in photos on yelp. bean sprouts are bean sprouts. again, the pork was pretty generous, three big quarter-inch slices that were not dried out, and were fairly tender.

i couldn't get much information out of the staff of panchitas #3. they were the ones making the ramen. there was zero crowd at 2 PM. all the owner would say is that it used to be on monday, but it was too busy, so they moved it to sunday. he never mentioned the name ken ken, and it wasn't on the printed menu.

all in all a pleasant surprise in the mission. decent ramen in a mostly neglected mexican/salvadorean restaurant? who knew.

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Ken Ken Ramen
3378 18th St, San Francisco, CA 94110

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  1. Now that's interesting. The twitterfeed for Ken Ken sounds like it's been shut out of Panchita's and needs to find a new place. Maybe Panchita's has gone into the ramen biz?
    http://twitter.com/kenkenramen

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    Panchita No. 3
    3115 22nd Street, San Francisco, CA 94110

    4 Replies
    1. re: Melanie Wong

      Yeah, weird how the menu didn't say Ken Ken. I had it once on a Monday, and they usually publicize very well. The shoyu and miso broths I tried were really light, and the whole bamboo shoots were rather bland. Egg was nice though.

      1. re: Melanie Wong

        Per Ken Ken's tweet, Panchita's is doing their own ramen, without Ken Ken.

        1. re: DezzerSF

          wow, I wonder if the line cook from O Izakaya who helped with Ken Ken's ramen is doing the cooking for Panchita on Sundays. Without him, not sure if it'd be the same. And wondering if Ken Ken Ramen will continue on somewhere else?

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          Ken Ken Ramen
          3378 18th St, San Francisco, CA 94110

      2. The original comment has been removed
        1. Ken Ken Ramen is back in business. Starts tomorrow evening 11/18, Mission & 18th street at The Corner. Every Thursday, except holidays. New chef, new broths.

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          Ken Ken Ramen
          3378 18th St, San Francisco, CA 94110

          6 Replies
          1. re: L C

            I missed the Ken Ken’s first launch at Panchita’s. But I did catch phase 2 last summer at The Corner before it shut down. Now Ken Ken Ramen is poised to open its own brick-and-mortar restaurant on Thursday. I’ll slide in a report on the shio ramen I had at The Corner to give us a mile post for gauging the next step.

            The standard bowl was $11. High, yes, but pretty well tricked out including cha shu, soft-cooked marinated egg, nori, and a variety of vegetables with a choice of stocks, including a vegan option. I ordered the shio (salt flavor and pork broth) and asked for the noodles (made with flour imported from Hokkaido) to be cooked firm. Here’s the menu:
            http://www.flickr.com/photos/melaniew...

            Ken Ken put out an attractive bowl with more greenery than typical: Shanghai cabbage, scallion, baby bamboo shoot, wakame, daikon sprouts, and toasted nori. Three slices of succulent and fatty cha shu fanned over the noodle base. The egg was a bit firmer than it should be with a light marinade. Good texture to the noodles, cooked as ordered. And while shio stock is light, Ken Ken’s had less depth than other examples. That said, this made it more refreshing on a warm evening.
            http://www.flickr.com/photos/melaniew...

            Ken Ken enters the ramen ranking at #21. I’m looking forward to seeing what the kitchen team can do in a permanent location.

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

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            Ken Ken Ramen
            3378 18th St, San Francisco, CA 94110

            1. re: Melanie Wong

              They changed their recipe, the shio broth is now a blend with tonkotsu. So now the only clear broth they have now is shoyu. The miso is also a blend with tonkotsu. The thin bamboo shoot is gone, and no more free edamame. The veggies in the bowl vary each day, sometimes sprouts with baby corn, then another day it was kikurage, etc. But the new restaurant looks very nice. Only open 3 days per week (Thu-Sat), dinner only.

                1. re: jman1

                  shalala
                  698 w. dana st.
                  mountain view, ca.

                2. re: Melanie Wong

                  Melanie - do you have an update on Ken Ken Ramen? We want to try it next week, but not sure if it has held up - have read some mixed reviews. We wanted to go somewhere near our home, this time. And have you ranked Kirimachi? And Sawaii? Thanks in advance.

                  (This ranking list is impressive!)

                  1. re: mariacarmen

                    Would also like to know where Men Oh Tocushima ranks on that incredible list (5120 Geary Ave). I went last night and thought the deluxe spicy ton katsu was pretty good (although not very spicy). I've only been to about a half dozen ramen places but would put near the top of my tiny list.

                    1. Dojo, SM
                    2. Himawari, SM
                    3. Men Oh, SF
                    4. Santa, SM
                    4. Sawaii, SF
                    4. Ramen Parlor, SM
                    7. Genko, SF
                    8. Ryowa, Berkeley
                    9. Bear's Ramen House, Berkeley

              1. We went last Wednesday night, first in at the door at 6:00 p.m. we both ordered the tonkotsu ramen. we know nothing of "real" ramen and were very happily pleased with this dish. the pork was tender and fatty, the broth was rich and creamy, and the egg was cooked perfectly. i was sad to find out after the fact that I could have ordered an extra egg, because i surely would have. i loved the bite of the ramen itself. and i also loved the red-pickled ginger bite in the broth - cut the richness perfectly. i want to try other places (namely on Melanie's list above) for comparison's sake, but we were very happy with this bowl, and feel lucky to have it within walking distance.