It's tough trying to keep up with all the new ramen shops, but that doesn't mean we can't try. And by try we mean investigate, bowl by bowl.
This very popular pop up operating out of Blowfish Sushi is a weekend lunchtime only affair from Blowfish Sushi Executive Chef, Ritsu Tsuchida. Ramen styles include their signature triple broth, tsukemen or dipping noodles and tonkotsu, but options can vary from week to week, as does the operation in general, so check the usual sources before heading over. Inside Blowfish Sushi: 2170 Bryant St.
Ramen Izakaya Goku. Photo by Amy Sherman
The ramen here is more about the broth than the noodles or toppings. They offer two tonkotsu versions, a chashu simmered broth and a slightly sweet, more porky than creamy kakuni simmered broth. Toppings are somewhat scant, a small egg (runny and sometimes a bit cold in the center), bean sprouts, kikurage mushrooms, house-made bamboo shoots, and green onions. The serving of kakuni pork is generous, though it can be a bit fatty. 3232 16th St.
The kotteri tonkotsu ramen at Ramen Yamadaya. Photo by Amy Sherman
This Los Angeles chain set up shop recently in Japantown. They offer a richer kotteri version of tonkotsu in addition to regular tonkotsu, shoyu and tsukemen. Do try the kotteri which comes with a half an egg, bamboo shoots, and a slick of black garlic oil on top. The broth, which cooks for 20 hours, is rich and creamy with a somewhat funky flavor, and the noodles are straight and very thin which means you should gobble them quickly before they get too soft. For added decadence, order a slab of their sweet and luscious kakuni pork belly. 1728 Buchannan St (upstairs)
Fuyiyoshi Ramen. Photo by Amy Sherman
The Fujiyoshi pop-up is run by the owners of Kyu out of their restaurant everyday so you might as well just consider it ramen lunch service. The menu offers a range of appetizers and two kinds of Japanese curry, but ramen is the main draw available in various configurations of tonkotsu, miso, and shoyu, each spicy or not. Unlike other spots, you can choose either Tokyo style curly or straight Kyushu noodles, which are perfectly cooked. The tonkotsu broth is perfectly well-balanced and rich but fairly light and not very creamy. Each bowl comes with plenty of toppings. Inside Kyu: 639 Post St.
Yoi Ramen. Photo by Amy Sherman
This Clement Street restaurant features ramen themed artwork on the walls and five types of ramen, the classic tonkotsu, which is very creamy and a tad salty, a garlic ramen which comes with broth served on the side, shoyu, a way too spicy garlic miso version, and asari, which is a seafood based broth with garlic ginger clams. Each bowl comes topped with half of a perfectly cooked tea smoked egg, bamboo shoots, a tender slice of chashu, wakame, and scallions. 2311 Clement St