Foie Gras Ramen at Ame Restaurant in San Francisco
- Melanie Wong Jun 19, 2012 07:20 PM
As California says farewell to foie gras and restaurants feature the delicacy on menus, one of the more interesting options was Ame’s foie gras ramen, billed as heaven in a bowl. Besides the ramen angle, one of the other reasons it attracted me over many others was that candied sweetness would be downplayed. Here’s the menu description – Ramen noodles in Hokkaido style miso broth with seared artisan foie gras, duck foie gras wontons, grilled corn and mustard greens.
On Thursday I met up with two friends to give the ramen a try, starting off with a round of cocktails in the bar. The ramen is also served in the bar, and we noticed several parties slurping noodles in the bar. With some concern that the evening’s limited supply might run out before we got upstairs for our 8pm res, we asked our server to save us three orders. Good thing, as we were later informed that we snagged the last three orders of the night.
We started with an appetizer of the seasonal foie gras, three-ways.
A shared bite of each was the right amount for me. The seared was perfect, the torchon-brioche made a lovely tender and creamy bite, and the slaw with gizzard confit and shaved foie was cleansing and offered textural contrast but otherwise was not terribly interesting.
We had wondered about the pairing of Hokkaido miso stock, usually on the thick and unctuous side, with the richness of foie gras. The stock turned out to be not at all heavy but quite light, delicately meaty with moderate depth and mild piquancy. Definitely in a supporting cast role here. Noodles were the thicker style, not soft, but not as firm as I prefer. Our server presented the dish, referring to the wontons as tortellini. Not wrapped like tortellini nor wonton “hats”, these were missing the twist that gives wontons their shape. The pasta for the wontons was thick and leaden, leaving no impression of “swallowing clouds”. Mustard greens offered a peppery bite, and the fresh kernels of corn were welcome crunch and bits of summer’s sweetness.
While the ramen composition was none too memorable, this bowl’s raison d'être was to show off a slice of seared foie gras. And that it did quite well. Surprising to me, I was wishing for a sweeter style of miso stock to contrast with the fatty liver. The corn helped with a boost, and the sake pairing offered up another kind of sweetness as well to make it work for me.
Tab for three of us including cocktails, beer and sake pairings, came to $286. Certainly the most I’ve ever left behind at a ramen house.
A couple days ago, someone asked me to use “Sardanapalian” in a sentence. The first thing that popped into my head was as a descriptor for this luxurious and over-the-top foie gras gracing a bowl of noodles.
Ame Restaurant’s ramen hits the rankings at #36.
PERSONAL RAMEN RANKING
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. Ame Restaurant, 689 Mission St, San Francisco
37. Yu-Raku, 104 S El Camino Real, San Mateo
38. Namu, 439 Balboa St, San Francisco (moved)
39. Halu Restaurant, 312 8th Ave, San Francisco
40. Sanmi, 3226 Geary Blvd, San Francisco (closed)
41. Hatcho, 1271 Franklin Mall, Santa Clara
42. Kahoo, 4330 Moorpark Ave, San Jose
43. Tomoe, 810 3rd St, San Rafael (closed)
44. Ringer Hut, 1072 Saratoga Ave, San Jose
45. Noodle Theory, 3242 Scott St, San Francisco (closed)
46. Watami Shabu Shabu and Ramen, 5344 Geary Blvd, San Francisco (closed)
47. Where’s Buta by Elgin Espiritu and June Lee, Eat Real Festival, Oakland
48. Kumako, 211 E. Jackson Street, San Jose
49. Japanese Restaurant Hoshi, 246 Saratoga Avenue, Santa Clara
50. Ramen Club, 723 California Dr, Burlingame
51. Ryowa, 2068 University Ave, Berkeley (after ownership change)
52. King Won Ton, 1936 Irving St, San Francisco
53. Tazaki Sushi, 3420 Judah St, San Francisco
54. Ramen Rama, 19774 Stevens Creek Blvd, Cupertino (closed)
55. Ogi-San Ramen, 10789 Blaney Ave, Cupertino (closed)
56. Kaimuki Grill, 104 S El Camino Real, San Mateo (closed)
57. Tanto, 1306 Saratoga Ave, San Jose (now Dan Izakaya)
58. Okazu Ya SF (Noriega), 2445 Noriega St, San Francisco
59. King's Garden Ramen, 39055 Cedar Blvd, Newark (closed)
60. Sushi Bistro, 445 Balboa St, San Francisco
61. Genki Ramen, 3944 Geary Blvd, San Francisco
62. Mitsuwa Hokkaido festival booth, 675 Saratoga Ave, San Jose
63. Dan Izakaya, 1306 Saratoga Ave, San Jose
64. Lakuni, 325 E 4th Ave, San Mateo
65. 100% Healthy Desserts, 1155 Taraval St., San Francisco
66. Mifune, 1737 Post St, San Francisco
67. H2A Noodle, 42318 Fremont Blvd., Fremont (closed)
68. Iroha, 1728 Buchanan St, San Francisco
69. Miraku Noodles, 2131 N Broadway, Walnut Creek
70. Manpuku, 2977 College Ave, Berkeley
71. Tanpopo, 1740 Buchanan Street, San Francisco
72. Sushi Yoshi, 39261 Cedar Blvd, Newark
73. La Shang Niang Ramen (OEC), 42 Dixon Rd, Milpitas
74. Oidon, 71 E. 4th Avenue, San Mateo
75. Taraval Okazu Ya, 1735 Taraval St., San Francisco
76. Suzu Noodle House, 1581 Webster Street, San Francisco
77. Bushido Izakaya, 156 Castro St, Mountain View
78. Fresh Taste, 2107 El Camino Real, Palo Alto
79. Asuka Ramen, 883 Bush St, San Francisco (closed
)80. Sapporo-ya, 1581 Webster St, San Francisco
81. Tokyo Ramen, 678 Barber Lane, Milpitas (closed)
82. Kamakura, 2549 Santa Clara Ave, Alameda
83. Mama-san!, 312 8th Ave, San Francisco (closed)
84. Katana-ya Ramen, 10546 San Pablo Ave, El Cerrito
85. Hotei, 1290 9th Ave, San Francisco
86. Bear's Ramen House, 2521 Durant, Berkeley
I would rank the Ame lower.
Friday night's (6/15) Foie Ramen is a joke. I fished the foie out of the dishwater they were trying to pass off as 'broth." Just a waste of foie. The broth had zero depth of flavor ( hokkiado or not) and didn't play to any of the foies strengths. The dumpling was ok. Dumpling skin was a bit flabby for my taste but the filling was ok. We had some other forgettable appetizer that I want to say was scallop and shrimp in some "crudo" preparation. Just a yawn. I told the server that the Ramen was bland and she brought chives and Shichimi Togarashi. haha. They apologized but weren't particularly interested in making it right. I cant remember if they comped us anything. Either way I wont make the mistake of coming back.
24$ seems high v.taste of the bowl. I cant fault the foie but for a few errant veins, that I dont mind. Hard to fault foie-Easy to fault the vehicle...broth
Im doing fifth floor next weds.
So, m2, please tell us how you really feel. :)
My feeling on the price is that the foie was about the same quantity as a $20 topper on a burger, making the rest of the dish worth about $4. And that's about the monetary value of it. My ranking gives points to the foie gras as a ramen topping, so yeah, that scoots it up the ladder.
I'm afraid I agree. We had the ramen on Sat, intended as our farewell to foie. The word "dishwater" did come to mind as I was tasting the broth. My sis, who we joke is a supertaster, said it had no taste. Noodles a tad too soft. The foie dumplings could have been pork for all we knew. (Compared to the Shimo Steak foie dumplings which were a 10, these were a 1.). And worst of all, the ramen was no vehicle for setting off the taste of the foie. I even missed the surface of a plate to cut against. Not well conceived nor executed in my book. We had to go to Fifth Floor for a second meal to do a proper sendoff.
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Melanie, I see you are a ramen connoisseur. I didn't see on your list for this place.....I had the pork belly ramen when the restaurant first opened but haven't tried it recently. I would love to read your review on their ramen, which is their specialty. I've been to most of the places you listed for SF city only as I don't venture outside of the city too often....but this is #1 for a bowl of ramen in city, in my opinion of course.