The Newest Bowls of Ramen in Town
The Bay Area's frenzy for ramen is still going strong, with new spots still opening at a neckbreaking pace. Here are some of the latest and what they offer (for a list of classics, click here).
Waraku took over the refined Bushi Tei space on Post Street in Japantown the end of March. It's run by Eiichi Mochizuki and Koji Kikura, who also have a string of Shabuway and Men Oh Tokushima Ramen restaurants around the Bay Area. Waraku offers a tonkotsu ramen and a shoyu ramen, but the most unusual and interesting dish is tsukemen, “dipping noodles” a kind of deconstructed ramen where cold and sweetly sauced, thicker, curlier ramen noodles along with toppings are served separately from the rich garlic flavored broth.
One of the most frenzied and highly praised spots has to be Ramen Shop, perhaps because like so many other places around the Bay Area, it's run by Chez Panisse alumni. Ramen Shop opened in January on College Avenue in Rockridge and by all reports it's been slammed since day one. The options vary but expect to find tonkotsu ramen on the menu with soy marinated egg, spit-roasted chashu, shungiku (chrysanthemum leaves) and black garlic oil. It’s one of the more expensive bowls at $16. You might also find Meyer lemon ramen, tantanmen ramen with ground pork belly or vegetable ramen with Mendocino nori. In true California style, this may be the only ramen shop ever to offer handmade ice cream sandwiches for dessert.
Very much under the radar, Oodles "ramen house, fusion tapas and soju lounge" opened in the Excelsior in November of last year, catering to the nearby City College crowd. Oodles offers four ramen options: Tonkotsu, miso, shoyu and spicy kimchi. Each is served with chashu, slow cooked egg, bean sprouts, green onion and pickled vegetables.
Izakaya Roku is another favorite among Yelpers and local rameniacs. Jay Hamada opened Roku in October of last year, he also runs the JapaCurry truck. The ramen is all tonkotsu, but with a choice of regular white, spicy red or black which is flavored with black garlic also known as kuro ramen (you’ll also find kuro ramen along with tsukemen at Kirimachi). Classic toppings of green onion, chashu, wood ear mushrooms and a soft boiled egg decorate each bowl. The noodles are made for Roku in San Jose.