What's the word on Kirimachi Ramen on Broadway? [San Francisco]
The tonkotsu broth is so flavorful, not greasy like most of them, yet it's not too light, well balanced. And the egg is always perfectly cooked. For me, the most important thing is the flavor and you don't actually wanted to throw up after you eat ramen because of too heavy on grease.
We went tonight since we live in North Beach. Even my non foodie husband loved it! We tried one of each kind, we liked the pork bone broth MUCH better than the Sapporo Miso broth. Don't get me wrong, the latter was also good, but not as rich. And the meat in the ramen just melted in your mouth. I'm already craving another bowl.
I went yesterday and was quite smitten at the whole setup of the restaurant. Kirimachi and Easy Creole have a nice joint venture here. They both share a fairly small kitchen and each have their own side of it, that includes sides of the stove top too! Both had equal amount of customers, but felt Easy Creole did a better job at "selling" their food by providing samples and chopping it up with those standing in front of the counter in the midst of deciding.... Do I feel like Asian or Southern? (though fair to say it is impossible to provide samples of ramen hehe)
Anyways... I ordered the tonkatsu ramen ($10) and had to wait 10-15ish minute for it. I felt that was rather long time to prep a bowl of ramen. It comes with 2 chunks of cha siu, wood ear mushroom, scallions, fish cakes, bean sprouts, and a soft boiled egg. Pros: The noodles had a good bite to it, meaning not soggy and limp (like you'd get from your typical dry packaged ramen). This alone makes it an exceptional bowl of ramen. The soft boiled egg is perfection... the white was firm and springy, but the yolk was still completely runny, which I loved! Mixed in with the broth, it gave it an extra richness. Cons: Wasn't overly thrilled about the cha siu... a bit overcooked. The tonkatsu broth was clean, but felt it could have used a bit more porky flavor. I think I would have enjoyed the Sapporo because I like a rich miso broth. And overall it was slightly underseasoned.
All in all, a fine bowl of ramen. Better than most in SF, but certainly not as good as the San Mateo joints (Santa, Dojo) and no where near as exceptional as the San Jose ones (Orenchi, Santouka). I'll go back to try the Sapporo and report back if that fairs better.
CASH ONLY. Kirimachi is a pop-up ramen place that shares the space with Easy Creole in North Beach. From Kearny turn Right on Broadway, it's on the Left-hand side of the street.
It's a small place with a small dining room & a small look-out area in front of the kitchen that has 4 2-top tables.
I got Tonkotsu ramen - pork bone broth salt flavor with about 5 slices of pork meat, chives, kikurage mushroom, soft boiled egg, I didn't notice if there were fish cake, asked for no bean sprouts & they even asked if I would like corn instead - yes! $10. I thought the bowl was small, good flavor, & was satisfying.
There is also a Sapporo style miso ramen $10 - either organic chicken broth or vegetarian broth, still comes with the above ingredients.
Rice dish-limited availability. Unagi donburi $11.50
Coke, Sprite $1
Hot green tea $1.5
Oi Ocha (cold green tea) $1.5
Coffee Luwak $25 -Who wants to try it?
Taxes are included, CASH ONLY
M-F 12-2:30; 6-9
Kirimachi left the Broadway location in 2013, because the landlord sold the building. Now plans to open a FiDi spot by year end, at Embarcadero Center. The exact location hasn't been posted yet, but I think it'll probably be on Sacramento Alley (between EC5 and EC4).
Other ramen shops in this area include newcomer The Ramen Bar (101 California), and Hapa Ramen food stall (Ferry Plaza market, Tue. and Thu. lunch only), who plans to open a permanent store at 2293 Mission near 19th Street.
In related news, Orenchi Ramen's upcoming SF branch will be at 174 Valencia St (next to Central Freeway, and across the street from Zeitgeist bar, next door to a pizza shop).
In my opinion that's a lousy location for Orenchi, because it has no parking. Nearby public transit: 16th St BART station, is about 5-6 blocks away. No reservations (49 seats), first come first served. This area is frequented by drunks and drug addicts at night. So if the speeding cars don't kill you, I dread the prospect of waiting in line (1-2 hrs. avg. wait at Santa Clara location) with smelly drunks. Apparently the SF mayor wants to revitalize this area, so he made them an offer they couldn't refuse.
Probably the best news about Kirimachi's rebirth is that they are planning to make their own noodles. Maybe San Francisco ramen makers can define themselves that way. Namu Gaji is planning to do the same at their new venue, and at least a couple of others (Sapporo-ya and Jika) do the same, as does Ramen Shop in Oakland. In New York by contrast, 9 of the 10 best ramen shops (per the NYT's Pete Wells) use ramen made in a New Jersey factory Henry Ford would have loved.
However, those house-made noodles in NY are actually better than most of the noodles in SF which are house-made. Try the ones at Hide-chan.
Kirimachi was one of my favorite ramen places in SF. I hope they find more business at their new location - it was always empty when I went there for lunch.
I'll have to agree that the kuro ramen at Hide-chan in Manhattan is probably my favorite bowl of ramen to date, but it was on account of the most assertive use of blackened garlic oil I've encountered to lift the tonkotsu broth above the typically cloying fat and salt parameters, not from anything special about the noodles.
I'm also a fan of Kirimachi, as ramen goes, for a very different reason. Chef Leo favors a less heavy handed broth, which allows dramatic space for the noodles to co-star, rather than upstaging them. Hopefully he'll show that noodles can have more to offer than just good factory QC.
I hope that Leo doesn't raise his prices with those hand made noodles. And Namu's ramen is terrible, in my opinion. They par-fry their hand made noodles to imitate instant ramen. But maybe the Naeng-myeon will be good. The dish has cold buckwheat noodles with chili sauce or in cold broth (traditionally it has half of a hard boiled egg on top, and a few veggies). The noodle alone is called Memil Guksu. It's exactly like Soba, minus the chili sauce.
Hapa Ramen will also be making his own noodles when his Mission shop opens. He just bought a Japanese noodle machine and attended training on how to use it in Japan (per his blog), probably from the same company that Ramen Shop has.
Hapa's original hand made noodles were subpar, but it improved a year later when he hired a Japanese noodle master to custom make noodles for him. His noodles are different because he refuses to use Kansui, he uses egg powder instead ("he hates chemicals" according to a TV interview, and I also asked). The raw noodles look like they contain fiber (like whole wheat bread dough), so I believe that he uses a blend of hard and soft flours, for texture and so the noodle cooks faster (probably a nod to Ivan Ramen's noodle recipe - but Ivan uses Kansui).
Hapa's toppings (pork cuts, chicken nuggets, and sous vide egg) are excellent. And his broth was pretty good, his miso-veggie is the tastiest vegetarian broth in the city (my opinion). I haven't visited lately, but friends and coworkers have told me that the meat broth is now less porky and more chicken. Not necessarily a bad thing. But now it's closer to Saimin than Ramen.