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Jun 3, 2012 10:25 PM

Ramen in Berkeley at Kiraku and Ippuku

I've visited both restaurants in recent weeks and had not seen it reported here, but both have ramen on offer. Ippuku has a mini ramen for $7 that is indeed a modest portion, I would guess 40% the size of a bowl at more conventional ramen shops. It's a chicken based shoyu stock, very kotteri, if I am using that term correctly. Just say thick. Excellent base flavor, though I might dock a few points for it being very salty even by ramen standards and the shoyu at least on that day coming out with a little bit of harshness.

Kiraku has a basic shoyu ramen for $9. If you order it they serve it to you after everything else you order, as a kind of cleanup hitter. Toppings were sparse, 1 slice of plain but tender pork, naruto and I think spinach. The broth at first sip seemed very mild but built up to be a quite satisfying bowl, the stock is indeed light, but with a balanced layer of shoyu and pepper flavor on top of the light meat stock. Honestly I w not sure if it was pork or chicken based but it is clearly there.

Noodles at both places were cooked well and good quality. I would say firm but not hard. I assume machine made from an external vendor.

I would order both again.

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  1. I enjoyed the ramen at Kiraku as well. Good broth and great texture on the noodles, though I found the pork itself to be too lean and a bit tough.

    Haven't tried Ippuku's yet — is it available all day or just during lunch? What I'd read is that their newly launched lunch menu has a heavy focus on soba.

    1 Reply
    1. re: abstractpoet

      I think the ramen is dinner only at Ippuku. Here's the Ippuku lunch menu that was posted on Inside Scoop SF. Just hot & cold sobas plus sides

      I thought it was rich and pretty salty too and from my cotton mouth, heavy on the MSG. I did like the al dente noodles. The pulled chicken was tender, but kinda bland (poached?).

      Haven't tried Kiraku's ramen yet.

    2. Thanks for posting about the mini ramen at Ippuku. I was there in January, and of course, had to order one. Ignoring the signs about not using phones or cameras, I did take this dark photo of the bowl.

      I don’t recall the stock being particularly thick. The soup was not as concentrated in chicken flavor as the ramen at Gaku or its sister, Sumiya. The soy sauce flavor drowned out any meatiness. Like drewskisf, I found the threads of poached chicken breast on the bland side, but it helped balance the salty/soy sauce notes. The chicken was very tender. I would have liked the noodles firmer, but I had not made a special request.

      While I might not order the mini ramen again, I did like the yakitori. The chef’s selection of five sticks for $14 turned out to be mune (breast), hatsi (heart), tebamoto (shoulder blae), nakaochi (necks), and negima (thigh with leek). I indicated that I prefer just salt but that the chef should use tare (sauce) wherever he felt it a better complement. With plain salt grilling, technique and ingredient quality had better be good because there’s nowhere to hide. I was impressed with the small sample I tasted.

      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, moved)
      22. Kyora Japanese Restaurant, 1217 Wildwood Ave, Sunnyvale (closed)
      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. Ippuku, 2130 Center St, Berkeley
      33. Nombe, 2491 Mission St, San Francisco
      34. Gochi, 19980 Homestead Rd, Cupertino
      35. Oyaji, 3123 Clement St, San Francisco
      36. Yu-Raku, 104 S El Camino Real, San Mateo
      37. Namu, 439 Balboa St, San Francisco (moved
      )38. Halu Restaurant, 312 8th Ave, San Francisco
      39. Sanmi, 3226 Geary Blvd, San Francisco (closed)
      40. Hatcho, 1271 Franklin Mall, Santa Clara
      41. Kahoo, 4330 Moorpark Ave, San Jose
      42. Tomoe, 810 3rd St, San Rafael (closed)
      43. Ringer Hut, 1072 Saratoga Ave, San Jose
      44. Noodle Theory, 3242 Scott St, San Francisco (closed)
      45. Watami Shabu Shabu and Ramen, 5344 Geary Blvd, San Francisco (closed)
      46. Where’s Buta by Elgin Espiritu and June Lee, Eat Real Festival, Oakland
      47. Kumako, 211 E. Jackson Street, San Jose
      48. Japanese Restaurant Hoshi, 246 Saratoga Avenue, Santa Clara
      49. Ramen Club, 723 California Dr, Burlingame
      50. Ryowa, 2068 University Ave, Berkeley (after ownership change)
      51. King Won Ton, 1936 Irving St, San Francisco
      52. Tazaki Sushi, 3420 Judah St, San Francisco
      53. Ramen Rama, 19774 Stevens Creek Blvd, Cupertino (closed)
      54. Ogi-San Ramen, 10789 Blaney Ave, Cupertino (closed)
      55. Kaimuki Grill, 104 S El Camino Real, San Mateo (closed)
      56. Tanto, 1306 Saratoga Ave, San Jose (now Dan Izakaya)
      57. Okazu Ya SF (Noriega), 2445 Noriega St, San Francisco
      58. King's Garden Ramen, 39055 Cedar Blvd, Newark (closed)
      59. Sushi Bistro, 445 Balboa St, San Francisco
      60. Genki Ramen, 3944 Geary Blvd, San Francisco
      61. Mitsuwa Hokkaido festival booth, 675 Saratoga Ave, San Jose
      62. Dan Izakaya, 1306 Saratoga Ave, San Jose
      63. Lakuni, 325 E 4th Ave, San Mateo
      64. 100% Healthy Desserts, 1155 Taraval St., San Francisco
      65. Mifune, 1737 Post St, San Francisco
      66. H2A Noodle, 42318 Fremont Blvd., Fremont (closed)
      67. Iroha, 1728 Buchanan St, San Francisco
      68. Miraku Noodles, 2131 N Broadway, Walnut Creek
      69. Manpuku, 2977 College Ave, Berkeley
      70. Tanpopo, 1740 Buchanan Street, San Francisco
      71. Sushi Yoshi, 39261 Cedar Blvd, Newark
      72. La Shang Niang Ramen (OEC), 42 Dixon Rd, Milpitas
      73. Oidon, 71 E. 4th Avenue, San Mateo
      74. Taraval Okazu Ya, 1735 Taraval St., San Francisco
      75. Suzu Noodle House, 1581 Webster Street, San Francisco
      76. Bushido Izakaya, 156 Castro St, Mountain View
      77. Fresh Taste, 2107 El Camino Real, Palo Alto
      78. Asuka Ramen, 883 Bush St, San Francisco (closed)
      79. Sapporo-ya, 1581 Webster St, San Francisco
      80. Tokyo Ramen, 678 Barber Lane, Milpitas (closed)
      81. Kamakura, 2549 Santa Clara Ave, Alameda
      82. Mama-san!, 312 8th Ave, San Francisco (closed)
      83. Katana-ya Ramen, 10546 San Pablo Ave, El Cerrito
      84. Hotei, 1290 9th Ave, San Francisco
      85. Bear's Ramen House, 2521 Durant, Berkeley