More ramen coming (South Bay, Peninsula) - are we overflooded yet?
Most of you already know about the old timer called Santa Ramen and its slightly newish pet project Ramen Dojo.
Now it looks like Santa has yet another pet project to come shortly called Ramen Parlor, at 901 S B St., very close to Ramen Dojo. There is no other information available at this time on the execution plan and offerings.
Ajisen Ramen has already opened in San Mateo at 211 3rd St.
Coming soon to Santa Clara is a new ramen restaurant called Misoya and will be at 3541 Homestead Rd. It appears to be a franchise/branch out of Japan with roots around Chiba prefecture. The signature/specialization is obvious from the name. So we shall see.
Overflooded? No. I believe cream rises to the top, and the bad ramen places stay almost empty or fold.
Most of the "new" ramen joints from five years ago were poorly run Chinese/Taiwanese copies (sorry my fellow people), that made an average ramen bowl at best and threw in everything Japanese they could think of on the menu as well (sushi, shabushabu, donburis, etc...). Most of those have closed up shop and now most new ramenyas are more focused on ramen and produce acceptable product. Competition wins in the ramen market.
Maybe I meant to say overflooded with mediocrity.
I've been to all three new locations in this thread that I started.
Ramen Parlor - The cream that floated to the top is their shrimp oil or lobster oil, it's too overpowering and ends up greasing the heck out of the ramen bowl. Maybe a few places in Japan are doing this but here it is a major flop for me. Especially when it is the same shoyu, miso, and tonkotsu broths repackaged. Hipsters will see this as innovative, but it's not so good after few bites.
Ajisen - it's mall food ramen, even worse than Taiwan or Japan. But you are not paying higher prices for sub par mall food.
Misoya is the best of the lot, and has more potential. It is still a chain from Japan and while I feel the best bowl is the shiro miso (Kyoto saikyo miso), it is not perfect, but still a standout compared to all the others.
901 S B St, San Mateo, CA 94401
re: K K
Tokyo has more than 10K ramen shops, so a few new shops here is hardly an over flood.
I'm not a hipster, and in my opinion Ramen Parlor is the better choice in that trio. Diners are supposed to blend the lobster oil into the broth. Only the dinner menu includes appetizers and yakitori, which are excellent. Chef Kobayashi has almost abandoned Santa Ramen, and concentrates his efforts on his 2 newest shops.
I do agree that Ajisen in San Mateo is lackluster. It's actually worse than the SF store (different franchise owner).
I don't believe that Misoya uses good quality miso. It tastes cheap to me. Any ramen fans planning a trip coming from SF, should reconsider. But okay dining choice, only if you happen to be in the area. They added a new store in NY last month. Misoya is a new chain in Japan, so it's unknown and unheard of by most Japanese people I know.
901 S B St, San Mateo, CA 94401
Read about two of these (here and on Yelp). My answer, yes. But, I don't mind. I'm not a ramen fanatic, so have a long backlog of places to try. I'll admit to just trying Ramen Halu for the first time this week; (enjoyed the ramen, didn't care for the atmosphere).
And, I usually try shoyu broth the first time; so didn't get their signature dish. Liked the menu options. Yeah, I don't get to South Bay often enough to hit all the old places.
I suppose that if ramen has become popular enough, there will eventually be too many places for any one person to visit all. Ubiquitous ramen; sounds fine to me. Like pizza joints. Or, ramen in Tokyo. ;-) Would be great if we have enough so that we could assume a certain level of competence at any random place.
We still need more in SF. I live in the city, but feel that the best places in the South Bay are much better than what is available in SF (or Berkeley/Oakland).
doubt the market is saturated yet.
it's evident that retail space is avaialable all over. reasonable leases can be signed now as opposed to outrageous rents years ago.
anyone with a viable business plan will jump in and open now. froyo shops jumped in a year ago. chain stores are still jumping in and will force the closures of the smaller outlets..
cheaper rents have led to the recent openings of taiwanese, dumplings, and many other exotic eateries.
downside: less consumer demand now so there will be shakeout, i.e. some places will close.
also noteworthy is the labor cost is also lower now than years ago.....just utiliies and food and other supplies have gone up in price.