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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?

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    1. re: ckshen

      that is a quick one :)
      the list looks good! found a few which i heard about in there. which have you tried on the list?

      1. re: windchaser414

        I tried Orenchi, Santouka, Halu, Ryowa and probably a few others. I like them in that order. Orenchi has the good broth and noodles. though I am not big on waiting at least 45 minutes to sit, whether you go before opening or during service.

      1. re: od_sf

        thx! how would you rank Ramen Dojo and Santouka with Orenchi?

        1. re: od_sf

          Maybe I'm the only one who feels this way but Orenchi is completely overrated. The egg? Great, but the broth? Watered down and flavorless.

          1. re: fireinthehole79

            interesting.. i will need to give all 3 a try then.

            what is your fav?

            1. re: fireinthehole79

              Too bad. I haven't been to Orenchi in a couple of years and the broth used to be rich and flavorful with the added gut bomb of fat bits floating around.

          2. 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.

            1 Reply
            1. re: eatzalot

              will give one of those a try this week. :)

            2. Ramen Dojo in San Mateo, hands down. Get the Garlic Pork ramen. The wait is long, but it's worth it!

              1 Reply
              1. re: mmlyip

                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.

              2. 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/

                1. Re #8 on Melanie's list: Izakaya Mai in San Mateo.

                  We were just there this week and spoke to the owners, after seeing an on-line note that it will be closing.

                  It's, in fact, not closing. They've sold the restaurant and are moving to Hawaii. But the new owners will continue to run it; and the kitchen staff will remain in place.

                  p.s. We had a wonderful lunch. Kimchi Chanpon was great. Miso Ramen was very good, but suffered a bit from our sharing the two dishes. Which is to say, I started with the Miso Ramen and loved it, but after eating some of the more subtle Chanpon and going back to it, the Miso Ramen tasted less balanced/overly salty. Service warm and professional.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: sundeck sue

                    are the owners retiring to hawaii
                    or moving to open a restaurant here?

                    1. re: macsak

                      We asked, but didn't get a clear sense.

                      1. re: sundeck sue

                        mahalo
                        always looking for a new izakaya or ramen place
                        :)

                  2. The area is rich in ramen, and you'll have a lot of eating to figure out your favorites. There's the cluster in san mateo, the cluster in MV, the cluster at 280 / saratoga, then a few standouts like Orenichi. I happen to have gravitated to Ryowa in MV but haven't made a serious study, it's clear that these places are all pretty good and personal preference matters.

                    1. You got to try this place, http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/9271...

                      Yokohama Iekei in Union City. They also have Tsukumen.

                      1. Lots of ramen in the US is what I consider very savory/stronger taste and not light. The better ones I've tasted are Kahoo and Shalala. Unfortunately, even Shalala is too much like new wave ramen meant for American taste.

                        The best ramen are what I make. Seriously. I purchase nama ramen from antenna shops in Tokyo and add different things. They keep very well frozen. Much, much better than ramen shops in the US.

                        4 Replies
                        1. re: shinju

                          What is your point?
                          This has no bearing on the "best Ramen in The Bay Area" is.

                          1. re: shinju

                            How are the ramen in Japan like?

                            I once tasted a ramen made by an Okinawan chef in Portland. i recalled it had a lighter touch. is there regional differences across Japan?

                            1. re: ckshen

                              Yes, there are regional differences across Japan.

                              If you're interested in revisiting the lighter touch of an Okinawan chef, try Ramen Tenma in San Jose,
                              http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/7316...

                              1. re: ckshen

                                Not a great map but it will give you an idea of the different styles across Japan http://www.rameniac.com/ramen_styles/

                              1. re: yuestudio

                                Can't get the map to open on my ipad. Any good ramen places in SF? can't make it down to the peninsula this trip.

                                  1. re: macdog

                                    Try the one-man lunch-only ramen counter inside Seismic Joint (embarcadero @ green, inside the exploratorium). Enjoyed their hiyashi chuka, delightfully firm cold ramen in sesame sauce with thin fatty chasiu, teardrop tomato, half medium-boiled egg, ginger (but no corn). Haven't tried their miso or shoyu ramen yet.