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Ramen Street Festival part of J-Pop Summit, SF Japantown July 19-20, 2014!

Exciting news of a Ramen Street Festival July 19-20, 2014 in SF Japantown from 11am-6pm. Admission FREE, $8/bowl ramen.

The Bold Italic has more info:
http://www.thebolditalic.com/articles...

Official website:
http://ramenyokochous.com/

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  1. Not wanting to nit-pick, but just to clarify, this coming weekend is June 21-22. The event is as you stated, July 19-20.

    Wish I could make it!

    1 Reply
      1. This is great! Thanks for the info! We'll be there on vacation around that time and our hotel - the Kabuki (http://san-francisco.hotelscheap.org/...) will be right around the corner from the festival. Can't wait!

        2 Replies
        1. re: Cathryn778

          The J-Pop festival is one of my favorite events of the year in SF. Food, sake, music, film, fashion. Even got to see my heartthrob Kyary Pamyu Pamyu in the flesh last year.

          1. re: soupçon

            My 25-year-old daughter (born in Tokyo) saw Kyary Pamyu Pamyu in Chicago this year. She's a fan, along with you?

        2. I just went today (Saturday July 19th) and it was insane. Unless you adore long lines and standing in a claustrophobic crowd of unmoving people in the sun for hours, I would not recommend it. Although perhaps they will have worked out some of their timing issues for Sunday.

          Some of the (many) problems:
          * They started serving ramen 60-90 minutes after the promised opening time (11am). So the lines kept building with no food coming out to get things moving. People who showed up at 9:30am got ramen at 11:30am. But they were doled out in a slow trickle. Maybe a few bowls every 5 minutes. I showed up at 10:45am, was ~40th in line about 15 feet from the booth. I got my ramen at 1pm.

          *There were separate lines for payment and service at each booth, so after you stood in one crazy line to order, you had to go stand in another one to actually get the food.

          * None of these details or reasons for the delays were made clear to the crowds. Captive audience- they could have just made a few announcements.

          *The lines were extremely long with no shade and people were stuck elbow to elbow. The line behind me stretched down the block and around the corner by 11am. I suspect the people near the end probably had to wait upwards of 4-5 hours, if they got any food at all.

          *Each ramen restaurant had a separate booth and line (meaning 8 lines, each a block long, all coiled up and packed into one street), so you had to wait in each line if you wanted to try different kinds.

          And after all that, the kicker was the ramen I had was pretty bad. I got the Horayia miso ramen (I wanted Men Oh or Tatsunoya but was outvoted by my companions because they don't like tonkotsu broth and for reasons I won't get into, we couldn't divide and conquer to stand in multiple lines). The noodles were really thick so they stayed firm, but the broth was so salty even I couldn't handle it and I love salt. I could barely choke down the amount of broth that clung to the noodles. I ate all the toppings because I was desperate for something to dilute the burn of salt blowing out my palate. I could have driven down to Mountain View and had a far superior bowl at Orenchi or Maru Ichi in the time it took to get this bowl.

          Plus the lines created a real traffic jam at the already popular JPOP festival. Such a mess.

          If you go on Sunday, a few tips.
          - Show up early.
          - Accept that you're going to be standing in a very long line
          - Bring water and snacks and use the bathroom before you stand in line.
          - Each line has a picket sign that indicates the end of the line. Find it and then pass it to the people who queue up behind you.
          - Beware linecutters. Because the flow of the other festival goers often cut right through the lines and it's such a completely gridlock, it will be hard to recognize if someone has cut into your line or is just desperately trying to escape but is blocked in.
          - aim for one of the tonkotsu ramen, they're the only ones that I heard people say were maybe worth the wait.

          Hope this post saves someone else some of the aggravation I went through today!

          Thank goodness I went to Benkyodo before all this drama and picked up a box of their delicious fresh mochi and manju. It did help make the wait a bit more tolerable, if not enjoyable.

          9 Replies
          1. re: greymalkin

            not liking tonkotsu ramen is a sign of not really liking ramen

            1. re: dommah

              Not liking tonkotsu ramen is a sign of not liking fat as much as you like salt, if you ask me.

              1. re: dommah

                LOL! really?

                there are many types of ramen. different strokes for different folks ;-)

              2. re: greymalkin

                Line ahead and behind on Sunday a half hour before they are supposed to start serving. Total shit show.

                 
                 
                1. re: Dustin_E

                  If the lines die down in the later afternoon, I would appreciate a heads up from anyone. I'm not willing to wait in a long line.

                  1. re: sfchris

                    When I walked by around 5pm yesterday, the ramen lines were only about 30-people long at that point. Typically, festivals are much busier on Saturdays than the following Sundays. With the word out about the horrible crowds yesterday, I'm hoping things will be more manageable today. There's also a big line-up of food trucks.

                    1. re: sfchris

                      Festival volunteer says 2-hr wait right now.

                  2. re: greymalkin

                    Thanks for the thorough run-down.

                    More comments on the festival and photos posted here,
                    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/9817...

                    I'm elsewhere in Jtown this morning and will walk over later. I'll be more careful to not get swept away in the crowds.

                  3. If someone does brave the lines today, Tatsunoya might be the pick of the litter. I watched each of the ramenya from behind their booths yesterday and Tatsuno-ya did a better job of separating the noodles in the cooking baskets and draining them (a couple bounces on a wire mesh) before putting them in the bowl. And it used a strainer between pouring the soup into the bowls, where others did not. Plus, it seemed to have more of its own staff where other booths had more volunteers cooking and assembling. While I didn't taste it, that just shows more careful prep. Here are the reports from last year's appearance at Mitsuwa.
                    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/910018

                    6 Replies
                    1. re: Melanie Wong

                      I might take that back. Here's label got Tatsunoyas soup base, next to cartons of frozen fat back and frozen pork bones.

                      Edited to add: just bumped into a friend who is working the event. He said Tatsunoya's product is far more impressive than others. Lines are a bit shorter than yesterday afternoon. I've been asking folks how long they waited---typically 60 to 90 mins.

                       
                        1. re: Mul

                          Yes, that's it. I took a photo of the package. Opens up home cooking shortcut possibilities, no? Yamachan has retail packs of soup base and fresh noodles. I've always meant to try it, just haven't gotten around to it. If you do, pls report back.

                          I also noticed a giant squeeze bottle with a white solid in it. Then it went into the boiling water to melt. I called out to the Tatsunoya guy to ask what it was. He said, "Oil". I followed up with, "Pig fat?" And he said, "Yes". Later I saw him refilling from a box of lard labeled as 0 grams transfats per serving. It was squeezed into each bowl.

                          Tatsunoya had its noodle recipe made locally by Yamachan. Its noodles were yellower than the others. Also, it used fresh noodles whereas a couple others had frozen noodles.

                           
                           
                          1. re: Melanie Wong

                            I like the Yamachan tonkotsu nama ramen. I usually find one package of the broth is good for at least 2 servings of noodles (I add more water, as well my own meat & vegetables).

                            Looks like you can order just the broth directly from Yamachan:
                            http://yamachanramen.com/whats-up-yam...

                            1. re: gnomatic

                              Thanks, always good to hear personal experience. Its website says two cooking demos are coming up next month but no details yet,
                              http://yamachanramen.com/whats-up-yam...

                            2. re: Melanie Wong

                              I wonder how many ramen shops are using this method in their closed kitchens and how many are actually making stock from scratch?

                              If a pho shop used this method and customers found out, they would lose all business (or at least their Vietnamese clientele).

                      1. Megumi Natto is selling curry tsukemen and there's no line. I didn't get it because its in two containers and hard to eat standing up. But you could dump soup into noodles as man standing next to me has done. It smells good and he said it was.

                         
                        1. Line monitors telling people in line now that close to sold out. Shifting people to Tatsunoya that still has supply.

                          1. Four of us went on Saturday and it was a madhouse. One got in line for the Horaiya miso ramen at 10.30am and didn't get a bowl til 12.30pm (2 hrs). I got in line for the Mattou Seimen spicy ramen at 11am and was the first to get a bowl at 12pm (1 hr). One started waiting for the ramen burger at 10.45 am but gave up at 12.15pm. The unluckiest of us started waiting for Tatsunoya at 11.15am and didn't get a bowl til 3.30pm (over 4 hrs). We shared bowls (1/2 bowl each) and overall enjoyed them, but the wait was definitely too long.

                            The spicy ramen was salty but the broth had an oily richness redolent of Sichuan peppercorns, and the noodles stayed firm even after some wait; sadly they had run out of the roast pork topping ($2 extra) by the time I ordered. It was probably my favorite since it was different. The Horaiya miso was the least favorite of the three we tried, but still good -- there was a dab of extra miso at the bottom so you needed to stir the soup to mix it in. The Tatsunoya ramen had thinner noodles than the other two and the salt levels were better managed; the tonkotsu was rich but not the tongue-coating fat-bomb I'm partial too, but quite delicious. We didn't bother with Men Oh since I've already tried the SF outlet, nor with Monta since I've visited their Vegas location (though the soup they served at the festival seemed to be a special version).

                            The festival is coming to San Jose in October and will hopefully be better managed then since there should be more space; one of the biggest issues was that it was so crowded that no one knew where the lines were.

                            http://www.ramenyokochous.com/