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Iza Ramen Pop-up at Blowfish Sushi in San Francisco

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Earlier this year, Prabhakar Ragde posted about Iza Ramen, the weekend pop-up at Blowfish Sushi. A few days later I headed over to check out the Tsukemen, $10.95.
http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/9662...

To start, Takoyaki, $5.95. Presented in a bamboo boat placed on a grate, this gave the impression that this dish would be warm in temperature. The octopus fritters turned out to be tepid and so lacking in thermal energy that the over-sized heap of bonita shavings flopped down flat instead of doing their usual heat wave dance. Besides being too cold, the takoyaki were also soggy.
https://www.flickr.com/photos/melanie...

The tsukemen’s served in two bowls. One for the noodles, and another with the dipping broth and toppings. I was surprised that the toppings were mixed in with the soup stock. A complimentary salad of tired, overdressed wilted greens came with the ramen order.
https://www.flickr.com/photos/melanie...

The noodles were served warm in a puddle of oily water. More thick than thin, they were al dente but oddly gummy rather than chewy. The plain ramen were topped with a pile of dried fish powder. I scooped off most of the powder in reserve and did not combine it automatically. A good move as the broth turned out to be on the fishy side and more of this would have been overkill.
https://www.flickr.com/photos/melanie...

The dark colored dipping broth had a quarter-inch layer of grease floating on top. This grease plus the oily water bath on the noodles prevented the broth and its flavorings from clinging to the noodles. The stock had a tinge of sweetness plus some acidity too for a sweet-sour effect. Less intense in flavor and salt than expected, the dried seafood component of the stock was much too prominent in the balance.
https://www.flickr.com/photos/melanie...

The half egg had a soft, but not runny yolk, and its seasoning was rather simple. The other toppings tended toward overcooked from being submerged in the hot stock beneath the insulating layer of fat.

Perhaps the tonkotsu ramen is better here? The tsukemen earned Iza Ramen #32 in the personal ramen ranking.

More photos: https://www.flickr.com/search/?w=1940...

Iza Ramen in Blowfish Sushi
2170 Bryant St
San Francisco, CA
(415) 285-3848
https://www.facebook.com/izaramen
Open Saturday and Sunday for lunch

PERSONAL RAMEN RANKING
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. Shin Shin Men Men, 21265 Stevens Creek Blvd, Cupertino (closed)
10. Gaku Japanese Charcoal Grill, 5152 Moorpark Ave, San Jose
11. Yonsei Ramen Shop @ Hopscotch, 1915 San Pablo Ave, Oakland
12. Ajisen Noodle, 47890 Warm Springs Blvd, Fremont
13. Maru Ichi, 530 Barber Lane, Milpitas
14. Ramen Dojo, 805 South B St, San Mateo
15. Shalala, 698 W Dana St, Mountain View
16. Kansui Ramen, 1185 Lincoln Ave, San Jose
17. Tanto, 1063 E El Camino Real, Sunnyvale
18. Izakaya Restaurant, 1335 N 1st St, San Jose
19. Alexander’s Steakhouse Lounge, 10330 N Wolfe Rd, Cupertino (closed)
20. Santa, 1944 South El Camino Real, San Mateo
21. Do-Henkotsu House of Tokushima Ramen, 4330 Moorpark Ave, San Jose (closed)
22. Ramen Tenma, 487 Saratoga Ave, San Jose
23. Hapa Ramen, 1 Ferry Bldg, San Francisco
24. Ryowa, 859 Villa St, Mountain View
25. Orson Restaurant Bar + Lounge, 508 4th St, San Francisco (closed)
26. Izakaya Sozai, 1500 Irving St, San Francisco
27. Sumiya, 2634 Homestead Rd, Santa Clara
28. Tamashii Ramen House, 3288 Pierce St, Richmond
29. Ramen Yamadaya, 1728 Buchanan St, San Francisco
30. Gen Ramen, 47890 Warm Springs Blvd, Fremont (closed)
31. Hana Japanese Restaurant, 101 Golf Course Dr, Rohnert Park
32. Iza Ramen, 2170 Bryant St, San Francisco
33. Ken Ken Ramen, pop-up at The Corner, San Francisco (closed, moved)
34. Kyora Japanese Restaurant, 1217 Wildwood Ave, Sunnyvale (closed)
35. Sobo, 988 Franklin St, Oakland
36. Kotetsu Ramen, 2089 El Camino Real, Santa Clara
37. BY Grill, 3226 Geary Blvd, San Francisco (closed)
38. Norikonoko, 2556 Telegraph Ave, Berkeley
39. Dohatsuten, 799 San Antonio Rd, Palo Alto
40. Casino Bar and Grill, Bodega
41. Hana, 4320 Moorpark, San Jose
42. Ozumo, 2251 Broadway, Oakland
43. Men Oh Tokushima Ramen, 5120 Geary Blvd, San Francisco
44. Muracci’s, 244 State St, Los Altos
45. Katanaya, 430 Geary Blvd., San Francisco
46. Tadamasa, 34672 Alvarado Niles Road, Union City
47. Noodle Me, America’s Cup Village concession, San Francisco
48. Masa's Sushi, 400 San Antonio Road, Mountain View
49. Ippuku, 2130 Center St, Berkeley
50. Nombe, 2491 Mission St, San Francisco
51. Gochi, 19980 Homestead Rd, Cupertino
52. Shimo Modern Steakhouse, 241 Healdsburg Ave, Healdsburg (closed)
53. Oyaji, 3123 Clement St, San Francisco
54. Ramen Misoya, 3541 Homestead Rd, Santa Clara
55. Chubby Noodle North Beach, 570 Green St, San Francisco
56. Ame Restaurant, 689 Mission St, San Francisco
57. Yu-Raku, 104 S El Camino Real, San Mateo
58. Namu, 439 Balboa St, San Francisco (moved)
59. Halu Restaurant, 312 8th Ave, San Francisco
60. Sanmi, 3226 Geary Blvd, San Francisco (closed)
61. Hatcho, 1271 Franklin Mall, Santa Clara
62. Kahoo, 4330 Moorpark Ave, San Jose
63. Tomoe, 810 3rd St, San Rafael (closed)
64. Ringer Hut, 1072 Saratoga Ave, San Jose
65. Noodle Theory, 3242 Scott St, San Francisco (closed)
66. Ramen Seas, 173 S Murphy Ave, Sunnyvale
67. Watami Shabu Shabu and Ramen, 5344 Geary Blvd, San Francisco (closed)
68. Where’s Buta by Elgin Espiritu and June Lee, Eat Real Festival, Oakland
69. Kumako, 211 E. Jackson Street, San Jose
70. Japanese Restaurant Hoshi, 246 Saratoga Avenue, Santa Clara
71. Ramen Club, 723 California Dr, Burlingame
72. Ramen.Co, Soy and Tofu Festival, San Francisco
73. Saiwaii Ramen, 2240 Irving St, San Francisco
74. Ryowa, 2068 University Ave, Berkeley (after ownership change)
75. King Won Ton, 1936 Irving St, San Francisco
76. Tazaki Sushi, 3420 Judah St, San Francisco
77. Ramen Rama, 19774 Stevens Creek Blvd, Cupertino (closed)
78. Ogi-San Ramen, 10789 Blaney Ave, Cupertino (closed)
79. Kaimuki Grill, 104 S El Camino Real, San Mateo (closed)
80. Tanto, 1306 Saratoga Ave, San Jose (now Dan Izakaya)
81. Okazu Ya SF (Noriega), 2445 Noriega St, San Francisco
82. King's Garden Ramen, 39055 Cedar Blvd, Newark (closed)
83. Sushi Bistro, 445 Balboa St, San Francisco (closed, moved)
84. Genki Ramen, 3944 Geary Blvd, San Francisco
85. Mitsuwa Hokkaido festival booth, 675 Saratoga Ave, San Jose
86. Dan Izakaya, 1306 Saratoga Ave, San Jose
87. Lakuni, 325 E 4th Ave, San Mateo
88. 100% Healthy Desserts, 1155 Taraval St., San Francisco
89. Mifune, 1737 Post St, San Francisco
90. H2A Noodle, 42318 Fremont Blvd., Fremont (closed)
91. Iroha, 1728 Buchanan St, San Francisco (closed)
92. Chotto, 3317 Steiner St, San Francisco
93. Miraku Noodles, 2131 N Broadway, Walnut Creek
94. Manpuku, 2977 College Ave, Berkeley
95. Tanpopo, 1740 Buchanan Street, San Francisco
96. Sushi Yoshi, 39261 Cedar Blvd, Newark
97. La Shang Niang Ramen (OEC), 42 Dixon Rd, Milpitas (closed)
98. Oidon, 71 E. 4th Avenue, San Mateo
99. Taraval Okazu Ya, 1735 Taraval St., San Francisco
100. Suzu Noodle House, 1581 Webster Street, San Francisco
101. Bushido Izakaya, 156 Castro St, Mountain View
102. Fresh Taste, 2107 El Camino Real, Palo Alto
103. Asuka Ramen, 883 Bush St, San Francisco (closed)
104. Sapporo-ya, 1581 Webster St, San Francisco
105. Tokyo Ramen, 678 Barber Lane, Milpitas (closed)
106. Ramen Tomo, 4390 Telegraph Ave, Oakland
107. Kamakura, 2549 Santa Clara Ave, Alameda
108. Mama-san!, 312 8th Ave, San Francisco (closed)
109. Katana-ya Ramen, 10546 San Pablo Ave, El Cerrito
110. Hotei, 1290 9th Ave, San Francisco
111. Bear's Ramen House, 2521 Durant, Berkeley

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  1. probably off topic, but if you ever get up to Seattle, I would be very curious what you think of Samurai ramen and where it would fit into your list. I haven't been for a long time but their fatty pork (if you request fatty) is like Porcellino's porchetta, but even fattier, and their noodles may be requested firm/medium/soft.

    1. Oh, man, Melanie, this is so scathing. I'm sorry if I steered you wrong. It seems like we had quite a different experience than you did; I don't remember the powdered bonito, the tepid puddle of water, or the grease. I guess this place is inconsistent, which may be part of the reason why it's still a popup. But what is a guy living in SF without a car to do for ramen?

      1 Reply
      1. re: Prabhakar Ragde

        No worries. I can see that my description sounds worse than it really was, as in the end, it was almost in the upper quartile. These issues were mostly finishing problems. Well, putting the toppings in the bowl of soup was weird. On another day when the kitchen's more careful, this could be in the running for best bowl of ramen in the City.