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Jul 26, 2011 10:07 PM

Best Japanese Noodles in S.F.

We're coming to S.F. and my teenager daughter is a Japan/manga freak who wants good udon and soba and ramen which we can't get where we live. Any recs?

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  1. I'm sure that there will be lots of recs. I'll assume that you're willing to drive for good noodles.

    Udon: Sanuki Udon in Japantown.

    Soba: Soba at Sanuki is alright, but I would like to hear a specialty soba recommendation. BTW, I order my soba cold (zaru soba); ten zaru soba includes tempura. I like the soba at Saizo in Sunnyvale.

    Ramen: Orenchi Ramen in Santa Clara. Santouka in Santa Clara (in a large Japanese food store). Shalala in Mtn. View. In SF, Saiwaii Ramen on Irving St. does a pretty good version. Tanpopo in Japantown outdoor mall is also alright. But, south bay options are better.

    The above assumes you want something more Japanese in style. If you want something a bit more toward fusion, there are other options including O Chame in Berkeley (although it's been a few years since my last visit).

    O Chame
    1830 4th St, Berkeley, CA 94710

    592 E El Camino Real, Sunnyvale, CA 94087

    Sanuki Udon
    22 Peace Plz, San Francisco, CA 94115

    Orenchi Ramen
    3540 Homestead Rd, Santa Clara, CA 95051

    Saiwaii Ramen
    2240 Irving St, San Francisco, CA 94122

    675 Saratoga Ave, San Jose, CA 95129

    698 W Dana St, Mountain View, CA 94041

    1. A convenient and good option is Ajisen Ramen, in the basement food court (the side closer to 5th street) of the Westfield Mall on Market street.

      Ajisen Ramen
      Westfield San Francisco Centre, 865 Market St, San Francisco, CA 94103

      1. Katana-Ya is good.

        430 Geary St, San Francisco, CA 94102

        1. The best Ramen places in the SF Bay Area are actually in South Bay/Peninsula:

          Himawari in San Mateo
          Orenchi Ramen in Santa Clara, which has a very rich and flavorful tonkotsu broth. They also do other noodle dishes such as Tsukemen (ramen dipping noodes).

          Ramen Halu in San Jose. They do a bunch of seasonal specials, and offer the largest variety of ramune (Japanese soft drink with a marble at the top gimmick) I've seen at a ramen place.

          Ramen Tenma in San Jose: I had the Okinawan Soba at Ramen Tenma (San Jose), which was very good, but it will not be what your daughter is expecting.

          Ramen Kahoo in San Jose, next to Mitsuwa and Kinokuniya Bookstore -- a little hard to find due to the construction/remodelling of that shopping plaza. Also, a bit noisy due to the construction during the daytime. Santouka, located inside the Mitsuwa also serves wonderful ramen, but the atmosphere -- inside a supermarket, and now with the noise of construction leaves much to be desired. Both Mitsuwa and Kinokuniya would be worth a look for your daughter. Pocky and Ramune can be purchased at Mitsuwa.

          Those are the choices that I would choose from for Ramen; all of them have sufficient atmosphere and tasty ramen, and remind me of the ramen shops I used to visit in Japan.

          I have had good udon at En (Santa Clara) and Sumika (Los Altos).

          236 Central Plz, Los Altos, CA 94022

          Ramen Halu
          375 Saratoga Ave, San Jose, CA 95129

          202 2nd Ave, San Mateo, CA 94401

          675 Saratoga Ave, San Jose, CA

          Orenchi Ramen
          3540 Homestead Rd, Santa Clara, CA 95051

          Ramen Tenma
          487 Saratoga Ave, San Jose, CA 95129

          675 Saratoga Ave, San Jose, CA 95129

          1 Reply
          1. re: mhuang

            Katana-ya in SF may not be as great as the noodle places on the Peninsula, but it's good.

            Mitsuwa (big Japanese supermarket) is amazing, though for someone who can't even get ramen at home, Nijiya, Super Mira, and Uoki in SF's Japantown would be exciting. You should also check out Soko Hardware.

            Nijiya Market
            1737 Post St, San Francisco, CA 94115

            Sakai K Uoki Co
            1656 Post St, San Francisco, CA 94115

            675 Saratoga Ave, San Jose, CA

            Super Mira
            1790 Sutter St, San Francisco, CA

            Soko Hardware
            1698 Post St, San Francisco, CA

          2. If she's a manga freak, you should worry less about the caliber of noodles and go over to Japantown where there are lots of great stores for pens, paper, backpacks, graphic novels, t-shirts, etc.

            Food markets are fine, but the bookstores like Kinokuniya and some of the newer/younger stores on Post are more fun for a teenager. There are also two Japanese dollar stores to stock up on (often Chinese-manufactured) rice presses, expired Pocky, and bento boxes.

            Suzu has decent ramen. I like the udon and soba at Mifune, especially the cold noodles with dipping sauce, but it's not in the same class as the places on mhuang's list. Also see what's playing at the Viz Cinema in the bottom of New People.

            1825 Post St, San Francisco, CA

            1 Reply
            1. re: Windy

              I totally agree with Windy on that. I would also guess that manga fans would be much more interested in ramen than other noodles like udon or buckwheat soba.