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Ramen in San Diego

  • b

Hi. I just got back from NY and had some fantastic Ramen. Where can I get good Ramen here in San Diego? Any ideas? I don't remember what the one I got was called but it had a pork broth with generous, soft pieces of pork, black mushrooms and red ginger. It was divine.

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  1. Chopstix on Convoy Ave. has pretty good ramen, udon and soba soups.

    1. After living in Japan for 5 years, I searched SD for good ramen. I finally found it at Tajima on Convoy, next to the Honda dealership. Every time I go to the Tajima, it seems like I'm the only American in the place. It's a local Japanese favorite.

      Link: http://www.tajimasandiego.com/okonomi...

      5 Replies
      1. re: pbhomey

        Pretty impressive that this place seems to be filled with immigrants. It may be worth a visit on my next trip to San Diego!

        1. re: pbhomey

          Seems like I'm a bit late to this discussion, but perhaps you're still wanting information.

          While I agree that Tajima is popular amongst the Japanese community, I find that the food isn't very good... its a fun place to grab something to eat and have some beer or sake with your friends, but if you're looking for a place with really good authentic ramen, I don't think Tajima is the place to go... I used to frequent Chopstix, and their food is decent as well but I find that their ramen is packed too much with bean sprouts and other filler vegetables, and the soup and noodles are just decent.

          The best ramen I know in San Diego is Santouka, in the Mitsuwa food court. Its part of a chain from Japan, and is really excellent. Unfortunately the San Diego branch isn't as tasty to me as the Costa Mesa branch is, but it still really is some of, if not the best ramen in San Diego. The soup is tasty and rich, and the noodles are good as well. The chasu is flavorful, and if you're willing to spend an extra $1, the flavored egg is nice as well.

          I moved to Orange County a couple years ago and I've been having a great time visiting all the ramen shops and other Japanese restaurants in OC and LA. If you're ever in the Little Tokyo area, try out Mr. Ramen. Its nothing too fancy, but they make a satisfying bowl of noodles (My friends mom is an issei and is very picky about ramen, she really likes this place). I've heard daikokuya is decent aswell. If you're further west in Gardena, try Asa. Authentic atmosphere (the restaurant even has the faint smell of cigarette smoke wafting in from the adjoined cafe) and great ramen. The noodles are excellent here. Last of all, try searching out a Shinsengumi ramen (they're located in a couple different places, one in OC and one in East LA). The ramen is quite good, and the experience is also fun and authentic.

          1. re: okitasan

            I agree on Santouka, in Mitsuwa. You can great great ramen in downtown LA, probably Irvine too.

            Mr Ramen is great - it's all about the food there.

            I have the worst luck getting into Daikokuya or Shinsengumi because they were either closed or moved to a new location every time. =( That's how my party found Mr. Ramen by chance.

            About Tajima, if you give them another shot and like authentic Japanese I'd recommend their grilled mackerel or Wahu hamburg. Their tempura is also great. These are the three things I'd recommend there. I have had other things I wasn't impressed with, but with Tajima being one of the few of its kind in the area we've picked out the gems from their menu.

          2. re: pbhomey

            I am another former 5 year resident of Japan (Tokyo), and the meal I miss most is Ramen. In San Diego, I think the authentic Japanese choices are limited to Santouka and Tajima. I just came back from a trip to LA and Costa Mesa/Fountain Valley and my new favorites are Shin Sen Gumi on Brookhurst for Tonkatsu Ramen and Ramen California (not for the purist, but really fresh, light chicken stock and fresh veggies). I really want to call "Ramen California" "Noodle Soup California", but it's quite good, whatever the name...

            1. re: SanDiego

              I believe you intended to say Tonkotsu and not Tonkatsu. It's a common mistake. The former refers to pork bones (read marrow), while the latter refers to a pork cutlet.

          3. Hi Becky - You won't get ramen quite as good as NY, LA, or even Honolulu in San Diego, but the afore mentioned places Tajima and Chopstix make decent ramen. At Tajima, the Chasu Mein is IMHO the best choice - it's served Tonkotsu style, the broth is made from fiercely boiled pork bones giving it a milky coloring. It can be quite salty at times, but Tajima makes a decent version. Chopstix makes a decent bowl, but can be wildly inconsistent, sometimes the oil in the Shoyu Ramen is a bit much.

            If you're in the area, you can also give Gunco Ramen in Chula Vista a try as well.
            305 Palomar St
            Chula Vista, CA 91911

            The sign says Gunco Ramen on one side and Kanpai on the other, but they are one in the same.

            If you go to Tajima, give the Okonomiyaki(Japanese Pancake) there a try as well.

            Link: http://mmm-yoso.typepad.com/

            3 Replies
            1. re: KirkK

              KirkK, Sounds like you either lived in Japan, or just enjoy the food! Tonkotsu style ramen is my favorite and not too many ramen shops in Japan specialize in the brooth. Tajima is the closest I could find in SD!

              1. re: KirkK

                I think the one I had was tonkotsu. Your description sounds really similar. Thanks! I'll give these places a try.

                I lived in Honolulu before moving here to San Diego and I do miss the quick bowls of ramen that were available right near my work. This one I had in NY was much more complex however and much better.

                1. re: Becky

                  What place in NYC did you have it?

              2. If your willing to drive up to Costa Mesa, there is a really good Ramen shop in the Mitsuwa Market food court (on Bristol on the opposite side of 405 from South Coast Plaza), its a chain from Japan call Santouka (sp?). Really good. Note, they only take cash and close at 7:30pm.

                Tajima and Osaka Kitchen in the Kearny Mesa area are decent.

                2 Replies
                1. re: inuwan

                  For S.D. I'd wholeheartedly recommend Tajima as well for their tonkotsu ramen. On Ramen Nights, (Thursday through Saturday nights from 10p to 2-3a), they also serve a buta kakuni ramen which is in a lighter shio-styled broth. Both are good and are the only real contenders that I've found in San Diego.

                  If you're going up to O.C. then I'd also add Shin Sen Gumi in Fountain Valley for a good tonkotsu ramen. For tonkotsu I find Shin Sen Gumi to be much better than Santouka, but the shio ramen at Santouka is excellent.

                  A bit off topic, but I'm inclined to also mention that in North County we're lucky enough to have a place that serves teuchi (hand-made) udon at Yumeya. It's on the coast highway in Leucadia, and has been written up quite a bit on the California boards.

                  1. re: cgfan

                    Off subject but Yumeya has good oden also.

                2. I'm a novice, but I tried Teri-Cafe and Chopstix recently. Definitely enjoyed Chopstix more. Judging the lines on a cold day, I'm not alone! On a different tangent, I've heard that Sakura has the best Soba/Udon broth.

                  1. I tried Tajima's tonkatsu style ramen today. It was the first time I've tried tonkatsu style broth. I found it a bit more subtle than shoyu broth with meaty undertones...if that makes any sense. I also tried it with the skinny noodles which was a little different. They reminded me of Hong Kong style Pan Fried Noodles. All and all it was very enjoyable and I'd definitely order it again. Next time I'm going to try their thicker noodles with the soy based broth to compare. Right now I enjoy the Won Ton Men at Choptix more, but that could be because I'm more used to it. We'll see if that changes after a few more visits.

                    1. Teri- cafe!!! cheap and alot of food!

                      my impression of Tajima has never been amazing, but most likely cause i go in intoxicated and i just want food. haha. and uh.. it ends up costing me 10$+ for a bowl of ramen after tax and tip which i find a lil bit on the expensive side

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: clayfu

                        you're definitely right about the price.

                        1. re: daimyo

                          If Tajima leaves you wanting, as often does for me both in service and in quality, by far the best hakata-style (super-rich pork bone broth in the Hokkaido style) ramen in Southern CA. Hakata Ramen in Gardena. A bit off the track, but then again, off the 405 for when you have to go up "there."

                          http://www.shinsengumiusa.com/G_ramen/

                          1. re: daimyo

                            The best value at Tajima is their grilled mackerel, if you like fish grilled Japanese style. It's the only thing on their menu we can't do at home. My wife talks about importing a gas fish grill from Japan - yes, Japanese have grills just for their fish and nothing else. =)

                        2. I like Tajima better than Chopstix. Tajima is dirt cheap at lunch (with gyoza or pork rice addons for $1). I got Miso Chasu ramen at Chopstix and they put raw cabbage in it which was very odd indeed.

                          BUT the best of all in San Diego in my opinion is Gunco Ramen / Kanpai in Chula Vista on Palomar.