best ramen in the bay area
i am new to the bay area - Mountain View, and am wondering where are the best Ramen around the area? I am kinda a foodie, and am willing to travel up to 1 hour for a good bowl ;)
Is there any app out there which i can rely on?
Right in downtown MV are two long-established ramen houses (Maruichi, Ryowa) and a newer one (Shalala). I have used these places literally a few hundred times. None has the destination appeal of Orenchi, Halu, or a few other famous/fashionable ramen houses scattered around the Bay Area, but they're quite respectable, and if you're in the neighborhood, all three in downtown MV have particular strengths worth noting. Which, frankly, took some time to learn -- so I'm not surprised when I see people strongly recommending one or another of them, on the strength of one or two visits and fractional menu knowledge. I find that each of the three has unique, worthy offerings once you get to know them; weaknesses too.
For example, Ryowa has long made its own very fresh gyoza, worth seeking out compared those at the two others and indeed at most Japanese restaurants. Ryowa also locally pioneered tsukemen ("dipping noodles"), a house specialty; and Ryowa offers a killer spice condiment made from ground red pepper and chopped fresh Chinese chives. And, freshly made ginger-rich wonton in broth.
Maru Ichi or Maruichi makes its basic wheat noodles fresh daily out front. House specialty broth includes browned garlic. Maru Ichi also does generally good _clear_ broths and multiple _soba_ specialties (soba on a draining rack with shrimp tempura and dipping sauce; soba in clear broth) and the place locally pioneered good cold ramen-noodle salads (hiyashi chuka), originally summers only, which the other two places then imitated. I like the seafood rice-bowl menu supplements ("combos") with Maru Ichi's ramen, whereas its gyoza there relentlessly shown frozen Trader Joe's (not even Nijiya!) quality --I can't imagine anyone ordering them after experience with Ryowa's far better and fresher rendition. Another Maru Ichi combo option, the "California rolls," suggest a supermarket party tray assembled none too recently in Modesto.
Shalala, the young upstart place, plays around a lot, trying things that come and go. Its chef's avowed specialty is broths cloudy from flamboyant combinations of miso, nut pastes, etc. and fancily garnished. (Tending in my experience to run rather salty, in a genre where that is always a potential issue, and there have been occasional allergen issues what with those very complex broths.)
All these places have lines waiting outside at popular mob times like 12:10-1:00 weekdays, and weekend brunch; their slowest times are weekday dinner. Ryowa is open the longest hours (not closing between lunch and dinner service, very convenient for mid-afternoon snacks or meals), Shalala the shortest.
We tried Ramen Dojo recently and loved it. The noodles were springy and perfectly cooked, and the garlic pork broth - regular spicy - was very tasty.
We got there on Friday night around 7:00 and were surprised that the line wasn't that bad. We only waited 5 minutes (we went ahead of others, probably because we were a party of two). I doubt the others in line had to wait more than 20 minutes, though. The restaurant brings food out quickly and their service is quick, too.
In your area Maruichi, Ryowa, Halu, Himawari, and Orenchi. Not a fan of Ramen Dojo or Santa Ramen.
My current favorite is the Ramen Shop in Oakland. The ramen definitely has a California influence & they make their noodles in house. The appetizers are amazing so be sure to try some. There can be lines & no reservations. http://www.ramenshop.com/