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Feb 11, 2013 09:58 AM

Ritsu Tonkotsu Ramen - Izakaya Sozai [San Francisco]

Hi, so last night, i finally made it ot Izakaya Sozai, and the food was fine. Some of it was exceptional, some of it was "meh" but the one thing that stood out the most, the best, was the Ritsu Tonkotsu Ramen. The menu even recommends that you end your meal with it. As there were three of us determined to try to eat almost the whole menu, we split one bowl three ways at the end.
That broth is revelatory. i have never had anything like it. I really want to know what Melanie thinks about it! (I looked over your most recent list from earlier this month and didn't see it anywhere on there. Have you tried it and hated it? Or have you not had a chance to try it yet?) The noodles were cooked perfectly and had a good toothsomeness to them. The egg was perfectly soft boiled and the roast pork was delicious. But really, it was all about that broth. I have never had tonkotsu ramen before, so i can't say. maybe this was a horrible version, but as it was my first, it was new to me and delicious as well. The broth was unctous with out being greasy. It had an abundance of black pepper in it, that i would normally be averse to, but with this creamy marrow broth, it worked.
The yakitori is good: the chicken skin and the enoki wrapped mushrooms were my favorite; And some of the small plates were decent: the clams with sake and the tofu steak with mushrooms were both good, but nothing amazing, and the special of sauteed ankimo was different, but what set it apart was the way they treated the peppercorns that accompanied it and the sauce. (and speaking of the sauce, it was the consensus of the table that their sauces and broths were really the most thoughtful part of the compostions going on.)
Anyway, i would whole heartedly recommend that everyone try this bowl of ramen if they are pork eaters.

Take care,

Izakaya Sozai
1500 Irving
San Francisco, CA 94122

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  1. and i just read through your ramen rankings again, and i realize that i am now the second person to recommend this bowl of ramen to you. so i can't wait to hear what you think.

    1. Melanie has a policy not to respond to call-outs. For reference, here's her most recent ramen ranking:


      2 Replies
      1. re: Ruth Lafler

        Thanks Ruth. that is how long it has been since i have been posting.

        i will take her name off the title.

        take care, and if you get a chance, you should try the ramen too if you like porky soup noodles!

        1. re: jupiter

          Well welcome back! And thanks for the rec -- I've never gotten into ramen, but maybe I should.

        1. In May, the parking, traffic, and leisure time stars aligned such that I finally managed to park and slide into a seat at Izakaya Sozai before the ramen ran out. It was insanely crowded and even more so at the counter, but I enjoyed my perch looking into the kitchen eating off a slab of tree trunk bathed in natural light.

          First up, the daikon salad with cilantro vinaigrette that a friend had recommended so highly. And I’m now a fan as well. A lacy pile of juicy julienne of snappy daikon tossed with peppery daikon sprouts bore the barest suggestion of an ever so light herbal dressing. On top a crown of bonito shavings added smoke and brininess. A shining example of less is more.

          Then the ritsu tonkotsu ramen, ordered with the fried pork belly supplement. The pork bone stock’s very good, simmered down to a fatty syrup, but not over-reduced. The noodles were slightly overcooked to start and softened too much in the bowl.

          The seasoned half of an egg was above average. Cooked one click too much, the yolk was at the hard gel stage and completely set with no runniness.

          Ordering the braised then fried pork belly turned out to be a mistake. I was envisioning the luscious version at San Mateo’s Himawari. But here, the belly is butchered differently and the frying turns it into a leathery doggy chew toy.

          Izakaya Sozai enters the ramen ranking at #24. This might be too high given the problem with the pork belly topping, but I did enjoy the tonkotsu stock. Ordering the regular braised pork belly might boost the rank in the future.


          1. Ramen Halu, 375 Saratoga Ave Ste M, San Jose
          2. Tsujita, 2057 Sawtelle Blvd, Los Angeles
          3. Tatsunoya at Mitsuwa Kyushu and Okinawan festival, 675 Saratoga Ave, San Jose
          4. Himawari, 202 2nd Ave, San Mateo
          5. Orenchi Ramen, 3540 Homestead Rd, Santa Clara
          6. Santouka, 675 Saratoga Ave, San Jose
          7. Maru Ichi, 368 Castro St, Mountain View
          8. Izakaya Mai, 212 2nd Avenue, San Mateo
          9. Gaku Japanese Charcoal Grill, 5152 Moorpark Ave, San Jose
          10. Yonsei Ramen Shop @ Hopscotch, 1915 San Pablo Ave, Oakland
          11. Ajisen Noodle, 47890 Warm Springs Blvd, Fremont
          12. Maru Ichi, 530 Barber Lane, Milpitas
          13. Ramen Dojo, 805 South B St, San Mateo
          14. Shalala, 698 W Dana St, Mountain View
          15. Tanto, 1063 E El Camino Real, Sunnyvale
          16. Izakaya Restaurant, 1335 N 1st St, San Jose
          17. Alexander’s Steakhouse Lounge, 10330 N Wolfe Rd, Cupertino (closed)
          18. Santa, 1944 South El Camino Real, San Mateo
          19. Do-Henkotsu House of Tokushima Ramen, 4330 Moorpark Ave, San Jose (closed)
          20. Ramen Tenma, 487 Saratoga Ave, San Jose
          21. Hapa Ramen, 1 Ferry Bldg, San Francisco
          22. Ryowa, 859 Villa St, Mountain View
          23. Orson Restaurant Bar + Lounge, 508 4th St, San Francisco (closed)
          24. Izakaya Sozai, 1500 Irving St, San Francisco
          25. Sumiya, 2634 Homestead Rd, Santa Clara
          26. Gen Ramen, 47890 Warm Springs Blvd, Fremont (closed)
          27. Hana Japanese Restaurant, 101 Golf Course Dr, Rohnert Park
          28. Ken Ken Ramen, pop-up at The Corner, San Francisco (closed, moved)
          29. Kyora Japanese Restaurant, 1217 Wildwood Ave, Sunnyvale (closed)
          30. Sobo, 988 Franklin St, Oakland
          31. Kotetsu Ramen, 2089 El Camino Real, Santa Clara
          32. BY Grill, 3226 Geary Blvd, San Francisco (closed)
          33. Norikonoko, 2556 Telegraph Ave, Berkeley
          34. Dohatsuten, 799 San Antonio Rd, Palo Alto
          34. Hana, 4320 Moorpark, San Jose
          36. Ozumo, 2251 Broadway, Oakland
          37. Men Oh Tokushima Ramen, 5120 Geary Blvd, San Francisco
          38. Muracci’s, 244 State St, Los Altos
          39. Katanaya, 430 Geary Blvd., San Francisco
          40. Tadamasa, 34672 Alvarado Niles Road, Union City
          41. Masa's Sushi, 400 San Antonio Road, Mountain View
          42. Ippuku, 2130 Center St, Berkeley
          43. Nombe, 2491 Mission St, San Francisco
          44. Gochi, 19980 Homestead Rd, Cupertino
          45. Shimo Modern Steakhouse, 241 Healdsburg Ave, Healdsburg (closed)
          46. Oyaji, 3123 Clement St, San Francisco
          47. Ramen Misoya, 3541 Homestead Rd, Santa Clara
          48. Chubby Noodle, 570 Green St, San Francisco
          49. Ame Restaurant, 689 Mission St, San Francisco
          50. Yu-Raku, 104 S El Camino Real, San Mateo
          51. Namu, 439 Balboa St, San Francisco (moved)
          52. Halu Restaurant, 312 8th Ave, San Francisco
          53. Sanmi, 3226 Geary Blvd, San Francisco (closed)
          54. Hatcho, 1271 Franklin Mall, Santa Clara
          55. Kahoo, 4330 Moorpark Ave, San Jose
          56. Tomoe, 810 3rd St, San Rafael (closed)
          57. Ringer Hut, 1072 Saratoga Ave, San Jose
          58. Noodle Theory, 3242 Scott St, San Francisco (closed)
          59. Watami Shabu Shabu and Ramen, 5344 Geary Blvd, San Francisco (closed)
          60. Where’s Buta by Elgin Espiritu and June Lee, Eat Real Festival, Oakland
          61. Kumako, 211 E. Jackson Street, San Jose
          62. Japanese Restaurant Hoshi, 246 Saratoga Avenue, Santa Clara
          63. Ramen Club, 723 California Dr, Burlingame
          64. Saiwaii Ramen, 2240 Irving St, San Francisco
          65. Ryowa, 2068 University Ave, Berkeley (after ownership change)
          66. King Won Ton, 1936 Irving St, San Francisco
          67. Tazaki Sushi, 3420 Judah St, San Francisco
          68. Ramen Rama, 19774 Stevens Creek Blvd, Cupertino (closed)
          69. Ogi-San Ramen, 10789 Blaney Ave, Cupertino (closed)
          70. Kaimuki Grill, 104 S El Camino Real, San Mateo (closed)
          71. Tanto, 1306 Saratoga Ave, San Jose (now Dan Izakaya)
          72. Okazu Ya SF (Noriega), 2445 Noriega St, San Francisco
          73. King's Garden Ramen, 39055 Cedar Blvd, Newark (closed)
          74. Sushi Bistro, 445 Balboa St, San Francisco (closed, moved)
          75. Genki Ramen, 3944 Geary Blvd, San Francisco
          76. Mitsuwa Hokkaido festival booth, 675 Saratoga Ave, San Jose
          77. Dan Izakaya, 1306 Saratoga Ave, San Jose
          78. Lakuni, 325 E 4th Ave, San Mateo
          79. 100% Healthy Desserts, 1155 Taraval St., San Francisco
          80. Mifune, 1737 Post St, San Francisco
          81. H2A Noodle, 42318 Fremont Blvd., Fremont (closed)
          82. Iroha, 1728 Buchanan St, San Francisco
          83. Miraku Noodles, 2131 N Broadway, Walnut Creek
          84. Manpuku, 2977 College Ave, Berkeley
          85. Tanpopo, 1740 Buchanan Street, San Francisco
          86. Sushi Yoshi, 39261 Cedar Blvd, Newark
          87. La Shang Niang Ramen (OEC), 42 Dixon Rd, Milpitas (closed)
          88. Oidon, 71 E. 4th Avenue, San Mateo
          89. Taraval Okazu Ya, 1735 Taraval St., San Francisco
          90. Suzu Noodle House, 1581 Webster Street, San Francisco
          91. Bushido Izakaya, 156 Castro St, Mountain View
          92. Fresh Taste, 2107 El Camino Real, Palo Alto
          93. Asuka Ramen, 883 Bush St, San Francisco (closed)
          94. Sapporo-ya, 1581 Webster St, San Francisco
          95. Tokyo Ramen, 678 Barber Lane, Milpitas (closed)
          96. Kamakura, 2549 Santa Clara Ave, Alameda
          97. Mama-san!, 312 8th Ave, San Francisco (closed)
          98. Katana-ya Ramen, 10546 San Pablo Ave, El Cerrito
          99. Hotei, 1290 9th Ave, San Francisco
          100. Bear's Ramen House, 2521 Durant, Berkeley