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Ramen Underground [San Francisco]

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Happened to walk past this new ramen place today, but too late, since the owners were just closing up.

Didn't see anything inside, but just from the look in the owners' eyes, I have a lot of hope for this place.

On Kearney, near Pine.

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  1. any idea about hours?

    1. Went for lunch today. I guess sometimes the owners' eyes are not a reliable guide.

      4 Replies
      1. re: chowhoundX

        Damn, and I was hoping you had some kind of ramen x-ray vision.

        1. re: chowhoundX

          Haven't heard much about this (except here and a few reviews on Yelp ... avg 3.5). Does it appear to be a Japanese run place?

          1. re: jman1

            It is Japanese-run. It's very good. I had the shoyu broth. It had a bonito flavor which was different but really good and deep. The noodles are firm and good.

            1. re: jman1

              I did give it a try one night the week before. Went with a friend who was not particularly ramen savvy.

              Tried the shoyu broth and added an egg and kakuni (which I thought to be an unusual menu item). Asked for the noodles firm.

              Interesting location. I used to work downtown and this street mostly contains lunch places. But, more recently noticed a number of restaurants that remain open in the evening. Very small store front; I can't recall what was here before, but don't think it was a restaurant. Interesting design choices; minimalist. Looks like it's run on a shoestring budget. Kind of respect the minimal menu; only ramen or donburi (well, that's a little odd to have at a ramen joint). Like the idea that you can pick out the additions you want or don't want (but adding too many will cost you).

              Noodles where fine. As others have stated, broth seemed to be less interesting. Missing something; I think that adding the kimchi option would help. Kakuni was nice. Egg wasn't perfectly cooked. Broth had sediment; never experienced that before. Drinking the last of the broth was like drinking a crunchy wine.

              Seems like they are learning the ropes. So far, nothing offensive, but not yet good. Worth trying again after a learning curve.

              My friend said he enjoyed his bowl.

          2. haven't gone there yet. info gleemed from luis c. review on yelp
            -eatery is 5 seater, ken. m., owner, used to be at katana-ya
            -menu: donburi, some rolls, and some broth varieties, no tonkotsu seen
            hours: m-thu 11:30-9
            fri-sat 11:30-11
            closed sunday

            Ramen underground , 355 kearney st. s.f. ca. (415(765-9909

            1. No tonkotsu is correct. There is a soy milk-flavored broth I thought sounded interesting, but decided to stick with the classic salt broth on my first visit.

              I did notice the bonito flavor mentioned above and thought it was pleasant...but I sort of suspect that you're only able to taste the bonito so clearly because the rest of the broth is so weakly flavored that it can't overcome the bonito taste in the dashi. Generous helping of noodles with a reasonably good texture, but few other toppings other than chashu and scallions. No egg unless you order it. Ordered mine with a slice of kakuni (braised pork belly) along with the standard chashu, also fine. Your chopsticks are set at the table with a dried Thai bird chile, which I crumbled half of in the soup. Instantly punched it up.

              Maybe once they have been around for awhile longer their stocks will get richer? Or could a broth lower in meaty flavor be a stylistic variation? Price was fairly low as the price I was charged for the ramen appeared to include tax already. They are also open quite late for the Financial District...wonder how long their staying open on Saturdays till 11 will last.

              1 Reply
              1. re: bigwheel042

                Bonito and dashi are not typical ingredients in shoyu ramen broth. the presence of those flavors isn't due to a flaw - it is part of the recipe. I liked it but others maybe find it too different.

              2. Finally tried this place on a Friday night for dinner. Pretty empty for dinner, so got a seat easily. Ordered the miso ramen and added kakuni and egg. The noodles were good (but why so yellow?) and miso broth was nice and full bodied, IMHO. But the kakuni was a bit dry. In fact, the one slice of cha shu that comes with the ramen was more tender to me. Cute place but not necessarily an outstanding bowl of ramen. Maybe the donburi will be better?

                http://focussnapeat.com/2011/09/28/ti...

                2 Replies
                1. re: singleguychef

                  NIce new website Ben! But your review doesn't mention that they also have soy milk broth ramen, as mentioned above.
                  I think they have problems with consistency. For example, sometimes the egg is hard boiled, other times the yolk is soft. The kitchen staff has 2 separate crews, morning and evening. I think some have no previous cooking experience. I know the waitresses have zero experience.
                  There's 3 American-style sushi not listed on the paper menu. Haven't tried that yet.

                  1. re: L C

                    Thanks L.C.!

                    You know, when I was there at night, they didn't have the soy milk broth as an option. Not sure why. I remember reading about it. Might have been just that one night, who knows. So that's why I didn't mention it because wasn't sure if maybe they stopped making it? Might have to go back and check it out because it does sound interesting.

                2. I tried the shio broth, and the server recommended having it "kotteri", which I later found out to be blended chicken skin added to the broth. The broth had plenty of depth, very rich, one of the better ramen broths I've had in the City. My friend's spicy shio had the same depth, so I think they've worked out the kinks with their broth.

                  Noodles were plentiful and firm, egg yolk was nice and slightly runny. Chashu and kakuni were average.

                  The basic bowl is pretty bare bones, just scallions, raw white mushrooms, and chashu. I wish they had bamboo shoots as an add on.

                  1. I kept walking by there so today I stopped in for lunch. It was rather crowded and a good number of people were waiting for take out (altho take out ramen sounds a little...mushy). Shoyu ramen with chashu, egg, and green onion (bit peeved to pay $1 for extra green onion). The egg was excellent, soft and on the cusp of runny. The soup was overly salty but had good flavor if it were a bit eased up on the salt. The noodles were firm and pretty good. The uncooked chopped mushrooms in the broth were just wrong. The chashu was dreadful: dry, chewy, fat- and flavor-free. The place might be run by Japanese but the waitpeople at the time I went were not, and could not tell me about the cold noodle with spicy miso. I wonder what that is in Japanese. I was hoping hiyashi chuka but I don't think so. All in all I will save my ramen calories for Himawari or my fave, Orenchi.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Tabetai yo

                      Have you tried Kirimachi on Broadway? Not nearly as good as Orenchi, but the best I have found in San Francisco, and worth a visit if you are a SF resident.