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Ramen Shop? (Rockridge, Oakland)

Has anyone tried it yet?

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  1. I looked in Friday night, it was insanely packed.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Robert Lauriston

      Like Robert, I looked in Friday (sometime between 6:30 & 7) and it was packed with people waiting in the bar area and on the sidewalk. Didn't wait.

      1. re: drewskiSF

        We went last night for the first time. We loved it. Showed up around 5 and had about a 25 minute wait during which we enjoyed cocktails at the bar.

        Here is what we ate:

        mixed pickle dish: excellent. all were great and I especially enjoyed the eggplant.

        Fried rice with squid, nettles, cilantro, pork and chili paste: delicious! One of the best things I have eaten all year. I did not find it greasy at all and the squid were perfectly tender. Coriander is a seasoning that varies greatly in quality. Good quality coriander can really elevate a dish. There was a really nice touch of high quality coriander that elevated the depth of flavors in the fried rice. I loved it.

        Shoyu Ramen with Meyer lemon, scallops, pork: Excellent. The Meyer lemon was a comforting counterpoint to the umami richness of the broth.

        Miso ramen with smoked black cod with ground pork belly and peas. Excellent. Had an earthy smokiness that was very good.

        I liked the scallop ramen better, significant other liked the cod ramen better. We were too full for dessert.

        Kind of pricy (bill including cocktails and 2 glasses of wine just over $100, but service and food were excellent.

         
         
         
    2. Only second hand, but I heard some disappointing reports from trusted foodies. It sounds like it might be not enough food, a bit overpriced, and not stacking up to places in San Mateo.

      I did try SOBO, also in Oakland and fairly recently opened, and found it to be quite passable --- my favorite place in the East Bay so far. Enjoyed the spicy miso ramen, the noodles were good, and the ability to add a la carte veggies and other items is nice. Good tofu too and we got out for less than $25 for dinner for two.

      7 Replies
      1. re: hungree

        i thought the place was still closed, but i guess keeping construction paper on windows is très chic?

        many current reviews here...

        http://www.yelp.com/biz/ramen-shop-oa...

        1. re: hungree

          tried the Sobo ramen(11.95) the first week. really disappointing..

          -subtle broth of organic chicken and pork bones overpowdered by the soy sauce

          -bok choy still raw

          -ramen chewy, doughy

          -small portion
          -meat portion of pork belly chewy

          glad to hear they have improved.

          i also seen pricey criticisms of ramen shop....also small portions.

          1. re: shanghaikid

            based on the progression of yelp reviews, it seems like SOBO struggled in the beginning but made some changes

            1. re: shanghaikid

              I tried Sobo last week. They don't have the "Sobo ramen" now and the current priciest is the Tonkotsu Ramen with Tonkatsu (on the side) for $10.50.

              I tried the Tonkotsu w/ Mayu (black garlic oil, $9.50) that is like Maru Ichi's Kuro Ramen. It's topped by sprouts, negi, seasoned soft-boiled egg, chashu, and sesame seeds.

              I liked the tonkotsu broth and the additional complexity from the garlic oil. I think some MSG is involved as my thirst increased and mouth got a little cotton-y.

              Noodles are thin and slightly wavy and the egg yolk slightly gelling at the edges. The noodles were firm / al-dente, but didn't have a good chew to them. The cha shu looked to be sliced rolls of roasted pork belly with a nice mix of fat and meat and a pronounced sweetness from the marinade.

              I also had the Karaage ($6) which was a dozen or so 1-2 bite pieces of dark meat with a lemon juice dip. Lightly coated, flavorful, and juicy. Not sure if these were free-range, but the meat was quite chewy. The lemon juice dip was different, though these tasted very good by themselves.

               
               
               
              1. re: drewskiSF

                Interesting this sub-thread about Sobo in the Ramen Shop discussion. I recently tried both places within a few days of each other.

                I went to Sobo on a Saturday night by accident because I was shopping in Chinatown and wanted a quick dinner. The place for a Saturday was nearly empty except for two tables (one table of two and another table of four).

                I got the spicy miso ramen. I, too, was disappointed when I first tried Sobo soon after they opened because I thought everything was average. Now I feel it's slightly better, but not much. The ramen did seem a bit springier than before but the overall ingredients were just OK, and nothing special and definitely not high-quality. Still, it was good for a quick ramen dinner on the fly.

                I went to Ramen Shop on Friday around 5:30 p.m. and sat at the counter. Service was nice, but I notice they only talk to couples at the counter and not to solo diners, which seems odd. Anyhoo, I got the poached shrimp and little gem salad with the green goddess dressing and loved the quality of the shrimp. Really quality salad like you would expect at other fancy restaurants like Haven or Camino.

                I tried the burnt miso ramen (it also took me awhile to get the ramen after eating my salad) and it was nice noodles, with the right bite, not soft, but also kind of like soba in look and color, not really crinkly or yellow. Still, it was good and the broth was nice and rich. I really enjoyed the one piece of cha shu because it was a thick slice and really tender. The half a soft boiled egg was nice too, though I've had better. Overall, I enjoyed the bowl but I felt it was maybe on par with the ramen I've had in San Mateo, so the $16 I paid is definitely hurting the idea of ramen there when places at San Mateo would be $5 less.

                I got a cocktail ($12) for dinner too, so with the salad, drink and noodles, my tab by the end of the night with tip was nearly $50. And I didn't even try the popular ice cream cookie (too cold for me), or else I would have paid more for my dinner. The price does make me feel like Ramen Shop is more a fancy dining spot that their idea of a purist ramen joint like what they've seen traveling Japan in their research.

                For me, it's so close to where I live that I'm willing to pay the higher price to get a good bowl of ramen than to pay for the gas price to drive to San Jose or San Mateo. But it's not like I can plan a last-minute visit when I'm craving ramen. I feel like I have to plan ahead to avoid the crowds and save up money to pay for it. :)

                1. re: singleguychef

                  I believe the noodles aren't yellow because they put the alkaline salts in the boiling water rather than the noodle dough.

                  Ramen Shop is clearly not trying to be much like a Japanese ramen shop, though that's what inspired them. This interview with the owners gives some insight into their thinking:

                  http://insidescoopsf.sfgate.com/blog/...

                  1. re: Robert Lauriston

                    I think people forget that ramen differs by location in Japan. The ramen you get in Sapporo is different than Hiroshima, so to me it makes perfect sense that we have a "California" ramen. Ramen shops in Japan also create their own original ramens or seasonal versions.

                    I personally like the ramen I had when I went last weekend. This is easily my favorite place in the East Bay to get ramen.

          2. I tried Ramen Shop on a Saturday. We got there at about 4:30pm and waited about 30 min for a seat at the bar. The windows were still covered with paper that night. They had three types of ramen that night - one with meyer lemon, a vegetarian option, and a spicy miso. We ordered the spicy miso ramen and also an avocado and citrus salad and a bowl fried rice as appetizers. I liked the appetizers - the citrus and avocado salad had a green goddess like dressing and the orange and grapefruit slices complemented the richness of the avocado. A bit out of place for a ramen restaurant, but it was good. The pork and squid fried rice was also quite good. I liked the spicy miso ramen as well. The noodles had a good chew to them, and the single piece of chashu was tasty and had the right amount of fat. It came with half of a soft boiled egg and a few greens. The spicy miso broth was pretty flavorful but could have used a touch less salt.

            Overall I'd say this is the best ramen I've had in the east bay, although I haven't tried that many places here (Manpuku, Norikonoko, and Ryowa), but it's not as good as the best I've tried in the peninsula (Ramen Parlor and Santa, haven't been able to try Ramen Dojo or Santouka yet). I'd say it's about on par with Himawari maybe, but with better noodles. It is also a bit expensive. Most ramen bowls were around $15, which is ~50% more than the places down in San Mateo, and the portions are also smaller. My bowl could have used another piece of chashu.

            1. Went for dinner last night around 9pm. Bar was empty or close to it, dining area was still almost full but we got seated immediately.

              Pickled mackerel with pickled daikon and erengi mushrooms appetizer ($9) was lovely. Fried rice ($11) with shrimp, Chinese sausage, and I don't know what was very good.

              Shio tonkatsu ramen ($16), deep, complex, delicious broth, lots of great chewy (thanks to alkaline boil) noodles, piece of char siu big enough it was hard to eat with chopsticks (maybe bigger than usual because they had run out of clams). I'm no ramen connoisseur but this was the best I've had. Really a great addition to the East Bay scene.

              Ice cream sandwiches ($6 each) were very good, I preferred the salty brown-butter black sesame, the malted milk tasted more like chocolate chip, both very adult and not so sweet. I took one bite and waited ten minutes for them to warm up a bit, much improved.

              Good beverage list though seemed a bit odd that there was no sake or shochu. Gold Leaf cocktail tasted a lot like mulled cider. Got a bottle of the hard-to-find Arnot-Roberts Trousseau, very nice with the ramen.

              Looks like they might be backing off the original late-night hours, when we walked the sign said 4-12 except Tuesdays, on the way out it that sign was gone and they had posted a note that said to check the web site for new hours.

              6 Replies
              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                Wow $16 for a shio tonkatsu ramen? Isn't that a bit expensive? Does the tonkatsu come on the side?

                1. re: vincentlo

                  from everything i've read of Ramen Shop, i'll bet it was Shio-Tonk(o)tsu (similar to Santouka), not ramen with breaded, fried pork cutlet ;-)

                  haven't been yet so can't comment on the price / value

                  1. re: drewskiSF

                    A common mistake is to confuse "tonkatsu" (fried pork cutlet) with "tonkotsu soup" (pork-bone soup) when writing about ramen. The slight variations in name results in huge confusion.

                  2. re: vincentlo

                    It's significantly more expensive but they're using all top-quality ingredients, everything is fresh and made from scratch, and the level of service is much higher than at a typical ramen shop.

                    The pork is sliced from a roast.

                    1. re: Robert Lauriston

                      On my one and only visit so far, I found the quality of my bowl (of burnt miso ramen) quite good - the springy texture of the noodles was particularly welcome, but yeah, charging something like 50% more than South Bay ramen shops for a pretty small bowl of ramen takes some cojones. And my bowl took an inordinately long time to show up (at 10pm on a weeknight, so it wasn't about the meal-time rush).

                  3. re: Robert Lauriston

                    Tasting Table explains why the fried rice was so tasty: it includes lard and house-made shrimp paste.

                    http://www.tastingtable.com/entry_det...

                  4. Finally, an Asian restaurant in Rockridge that's open till midnight every day (except Tuesday)!

                    No tonkatsu ramen tonight, but I got to try a shot glass of the broth. Very rich broth, full of flavor, almost creamy in consistency.

                    Fried rice with nettles and pork was too greasy. It would have been nice if more fat had been rendered from the chunks of pork so as to help concentrate their flavor.

                    The first half of the bowl of black miso ramen was dominated by ginger. As I got down to the bottom, the flavor got more balanced, but there was some grittiness. The slices of pork were great and thicker/bigger than those I've been served on the peninsula. There was also some cabbage, green onion, and a really enjoyable half of an egg. There's also no sichimi togarashi, soy sauce, or other condiments out on the tables.

                    My favorite thing was actually the black sesame ice cream sandwich. Delicious and something I'd easily return for.

                    At least when I was there at about 10:30, the staff was very conversational. The place has a really nice vibe--- everyone in the kitchen seemed upbeat and excited to be working there, like they were a group of old friends.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: hyperbowler

                      I agree on the black sesame ice cream sandwich - great flavors/textures, especially after you let it sit for a bit.

                      Staff was friendly, if not totally reliable (I asked for sichimi from two different people because the first one seemed to promptly forget what the word meant after she left my presence). The sichimi was actually very good - fresh - I think they may be getting the mix from Oakland Spice Shop.

                      Had the pickled mackerel to start - good flavors but the texture of the mackerel was unexpectedly tough and dry.

                      Ramen... veggie miso broth relied too much on miso for flavor so it was like eating soba noodles in miso soup that had not been made properly (lacking some sort of dashi). Ya can't make veggie dishes salty and call it done. They say they make noodles fresh and they do have a noodle machine (you can see it at the far end of the counter) but they lack the bouncy, slurpy texture that I love about ramen. They do cook it katamen style, which I appreciate, but sorry, can't call it ramen without the bounce/slurp combo. Salt-cured egg was done proper. But that and a toddler's handful of mizuna and half a trumpet mushroom just did not keep my attention away from the lack of depth in the soup and the aforementioned noodles.

                      ML got the burnt miso, which comes with an oil slick on top - ML really enjoyed the thick slice of pork but pronounced it was "American" because it was a big hefty meaty chunk without subtlety. Darn, like we need another ramen snob in the family!

                      A note about size: usually, I never order anything other than the actual ramen because I'm usually too full, but here, I had half the appetizer and the full bowl of ramen and still had ample room to share the ice cream cookie sandwich (actually could have eaten one by myself). I think this may have been the smallest serving of ramen I've ever had. Ever.

                      I was hoping for someplace closer to home that I could go to satisfy my ramen cravings. Will try Sobo next, maybe this week during ORW.