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Jun 12, 2014 10:10 PM

Ramen Burger™ at Soy & Tofu Festival in San Francisco Japantown

Saturday morning I wandered over to the annual Soy & Tofu Festival in Japantown and discovered that Keizo Shimamoto’s crew had taken over Japacurry’s truck for the day to offer Ramen Burger™. The barker was telling the crowd that they were lucky to be here early, as they’d be guaranteed of getting one. Also, he estimated that the wait at that point would only be 15 minutes vs. the many hours reported at other venues. So, I got in line. Here’s the menu,

That was a solid estimate . . . 13 minutes later I forked over my cash and got one Original Ramen Burger and a t-shirt. This was my first encounter with Pleatpak-type paper wrapper on a burger and I loved the reduced packaging concept.

To my original, I added some La Sriracha Macha, self-described as Mexican sriracha, and indeed it comes across as Mexican-type dried chiles added to rooster sauce. It added the needed kick to the burger.

While the burger patty was freshly cooked and almost hot , the hardly-browned-at-all ramen “bun” was tepid and rapidly cooled off the meat portion. I was surprised by how soft and wet the noodles were, I guess to make it as easy to bite through as a bread bun. I liked the soy sauce glaze, green onions and arugula contribution, especially with the Sriracha Macha. The beef patty was on the fatty side and cooked to dead and done but stayed moist. The meat was not particularly flavorful in and of itself.

A couple of bites was enough. The lack of browning for added taste and texture and the softness of the ramen combined with the generic beef had little appeal for me. I’m glad I had a chance to try for myself what all the fuss is about with only a short wait in line.

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  1. I got to try Nombe's ramen burger at the Asian Heritage Festival a few weeks ago. Nombe's is actually the original American version of a ramen burger; though Keizo got all the press (being in New York helps), Nombe's was on sale at least a month earlier than his. Judging from your description, you might have been happier with the Nombe version. The "bun" was warm and had some crunchiness to it and the meat patty was a mixture of beef and pork belly.

    1 Reply
    1. re: soupçon

      Thanks for this reminder. Reading about Nombe's invention was the first time I'd heard of a ramen burger concept, and yes, it was before Keizo's blew on the scene.

      I guess I was looking for the crunch of Hong Kong-style jin mein's pillow cake. Nombe's looks closer to that ideal.

    2. Thanks for taking one for the team! If you decide to make a list parallel to the ramen rankings of ramen fusion products, the ramen coated chicken wings at hot sauce and Panko look fun:

      1 Reply
      1. re: hyperbowler

        Have you been able to try those recently? I fear those were a specialty item that doesn't come back. I never got to try them or to see them reappear. Sadness!