650 Eats: Ice Cream and Ramen
Fun new restaurant options are popping up in the 650 (area code), with a new brothy ramen spot giving delicious possibilities in the ramen Mecca town of San Mateo. Further afield the battle for the best bowl of sweet goodness continues with the opening of two new ice cream spots—and yes, Straus dairy and liquid nitrogen play supporting roles in this ever unfolding battle of the sweets. For these newcomers, it may actually be a good thing to be too cool for school.
Ramen Izakaya Kagura is the newly opened sister restaurant to the very popular Ramen Izakaya Goku up in the 415’s Mission District. Kagura means God + happiness for the smarty pants in our midst. Just this week, Kagura’s Yelp page talks up the restaurant’s offering of “stamina building food” – which sounds like a great way to describe Shoyu ramen, that deeply flavored broth made from a base of chicken bones.
Another draw for ramen fans, no doubt is the Hakata-style ramen, created from tonkotsu broth, which is brewed for a reported sixteen hours and served with noodles that are recognizable for their thin texture. The kushiage options here cover wide meaty ground: skewers from seafood (angel shrimp, scallops, salmon with ikura) and meat that are deep-fried and a delicious way to while away the evening hours. If the weekend menu has it, the yamaimo (grated mountain yam) is worth a try. 279 Baldwin Ave., San Mateo, (650) 685-8800.
Palo Alto has more post-dinner treat options: shakes and smoothies to ice cream, frozen yogurt and sorbet make up the menu at the appropriately named Scoop Microcreamery downtown on University Avenue. Cindy and Dave Somasunderam bring frozen treat cred to the independent artisan business: before decamping for the 650, they ran a froyo shop on the East Coast. Their buttermilk waffle cone is already a hit and is made onsite—the aroma makes it something of a must try. In keeping with the area’s tech-savvy leanings, the Somasunderams are using liquid nitrogen to produce flavors that are fun and non-traditional: pumpkin with ginger streusel, cake batter, bacon toffee, avocado, maple bacon crunch, and the like. Don’t expect a “made to order” cup with Straus dairy in the style of Smitten Ice Cream—the Somasunderams do things one small batch at a time instead with their liquid nitrogen icecreamology. Their results are ultimately lickable, smooth and creamy. 203 University Ave., Palo Alto; (650) 323-1203.
The liquid nitrogen fun continues at Cryo Cream, where the process takes cream and rapidly whips it into a spoonable dessert form according to the flavor preferences of each customer--ice cream theater that is on trend. Straus cream is featured at Cryo (another trend), and Fruity Pebbles breakfast cereal ice cream may be a draw. Cyro is also a fine place to remember The King for his fat years via a decadent serving of “The Elvis,” which incorporates bananas, rich chocolate ribbons and banana ice cream into one creamy concoction—add some crispy bacon bits if you dare. The list of flavors is edited and small and does evolve daily, but you may nab some chocolate chip ice cream, or the ever-popular salted caramel. 240 Park Rd., Burlingame; (650) 401-6400.