Our long standing favorite place in the Bay Area, Men Oh, needed a follow up test after visiting so many other venues in the area. So I packed up the munchkin on a Saturday afternoon, picked up a good friend of ours, and headed into San Francisco for lunch. The only place in the area that is actually from Japan, Men Oh originates from Tokushima on the island of Shikoku. Operating 12 restaurants all over Japan, Men Oh opened up two venues in the Bay Area. One in San Francisco on Geary Blvd. and 15th Ave. and another in Union City. (They recently opened a new store in L.A. I am told)
Men Oh’s specialty is Tonkotsu ramen, which if you can’t tell yet, is easily my favorite type. My dish of choice is the Spicy Tonkotsu Ramen, extra spicy of course. Men Ohs version of the dish comes with chashu, a seasoned boiled egg, menma (bamboo shoots), chives, karamoyashi (spicy bean sprout), nikumiso, and cayenne pepper strings.
My concern was that, with all the ramen we have been eating since starting up the blog, our favorite wasn’t going to hold up anymore. The bowl arrived at the table and I was instantly reminded why I love Men Oh. The dish was colorful, neatly arranged, and came in a very nicely designed white porcelain bowl. The toppings were all fresh and very orderly placed so that each little bit could be seen. I had added corn and extra nikumiso to my order and they made sure that you could tell they were present.
First taste of the broth was fantastic, just as I had remembered. Thick, heavy, and rich with pork fat, the broth carries all of the flavors and notes of a great tonkotsu broth. The noodles perfectly cooked complemented the broth exactly as they should, carrying the sticky fatty parts that dotted the surface of the broth.
Toppings were spot on and tasted fantastic. The stand out from Men Oh in my opinion is the seasoned boiled egg and the nikumiso. The egg is perfectly cooked and seasoned with a golden custardy center. The nikumiso is somewhat unique to Men Oh (I haven’t seen it very often at other places) and is a ground pork marinated in a delicious miso sauce. The result is a salty and very robust flavor that adds wonderful notes to the broth and other toppings. I can’t get enough which is why I always order extra.
After finishing my lunch, I mentioned to my friend who had joined me that I was worried it wouldn’t hold up. I have been eating some fantastic ramen lately and I had my doubts. My doubts and fears had vanished and I was extremely pleased with my lunch. Still #1 in my book, and my favorite ramen yet. It will be hard to dethrone this one honestly. (Side note, I have eaten at both the SF and Union City locations and there is little to no difference between the quality. So feel free to visit either.)
Also, beyond the ramen, Men Oh offers a fantastic Takoyaki appetizer that is on par with what I have had in Osaka.
- Dish: Spicy Tonkotsu Ramen (Extra Spicy)
- Price: $9.50
- Extras: Sweet Corn $.75, extra Nikumiso $1.00