Ramen is always a good idea, rain or shine. I remember the first time I upgraded from the store bought instant cup of noodles and tried my first bowl of authentic ramen. Boy was I missing out! The Bay Area is home to some of the best ramen spots in the nation. With many new ramen houses opening each year, it is obvious that this is continually becoming a trend, so it’s best to know which places are worth visiting. I’ve included below a guide to some awesome places that if you haven’t tried out yet, you definitely should!
Small compact restaurant located in the outer sunset area of San Francisco that serves great ramen at affordable prices. The place usually gets pretty packed during the dinner rush so expect to wait before being served. Once your seated by one of their friendly staff the service is usually quick.
What to order: Spicy Mala Chicken or Spicy Garlic Tonkotsu
The spicy mala Includes: karaage, negi, spinach, 1/2 egg, nori, cha shu, and the spicy garlic tonkotsu includes: pork, bamboo, scallions, mushrooms. The broth is rich and flavorful and the noodles have a nice firm texture. Remember to choose how spicy you want your bowl!
Definitely not your traditional ramen shop! The menu items are a bit pricey but the service and ambiance is great and the food is amazing. It is always packed so except to wait before being seated.
What to order: Veggie Shoyu Matsutake Ramen
In the bowl is a salt-cured egg, meyer lemon, matsutake, and king oyster mushrooms, roasted delicata squash, and tokyo turnip. All the ingredients blend well together and the broth is delicious.
Located nearby Santa Clara University, Ramen Taka is a go-to spot for traditional Japanese noodles with affordable prices and a bearable wait time.
What to order: Hakata Ramen or Char siu Hakata Ramen
In the bowl is an egg, noodles, chopped green onion, pork bone broth, and thin slices of braised pork belly. The broth is lighter and has an intense buttery texture. The noodles are not like the thick, curly type that’s popular throughout the Bay Area. Instead, they are thin, straight, and firm. You also have the option of adding more toppings to your bowl.
Located inside Mitsuwa Marketplace food court in San Jose, Hokkaido Ramen Santouka tends to be crowded and parking can be tough. However, don’t let the long lines discourage you because many swear that this is the “best,” ramen house in the South Bay. They are cash only so be prepared!
What to order: Toroniku Shio Ramen (choice Pork Ramen)
Toroniku ramen is signature ramen that is served with slices of well cooked pork, green onions, bamboo shoots topped off with a Japanese pickled plum. The noodles are delicious and the salt flavor broth is very deep, rich and tasty with a mild smokey flavor. The simmered pork cheek is extremely tender and juicy.
Located in an intimate setting within Lawrence Station strip mall, Orenchi Ramen is best described by its diners as the “pinnacle of ramen divinity.” The restaurant is medium size with an upbeat atmosphere and efficient staff.
What to order: Orenchi Ramen (Tonkotsu Base)
Included in the bowl is a soft boiled seasoned egg, pork, green onion, bamboo shoots, mushrooms, sesame, and nori seaweed. The savory broth is perfect, not too salty and very rich. The al dente noodles are thick, chewy and have a good bite. You won’t be disappointed.
Food Blogger Michelle Owino is one of the Contributors for the Bay Area Munchies column.