Orenchi: Orenchi Ramen

Of all the places in the Bay Area the one that resonates most amongst ramen fans is Orenchi in Santa Clara. Tales of 3-4 hour waits, running out of broth, and giant noodle shaped yetis swirl around this small eatery in a very unassuming strip mall. Long hailing as the “king of tonkotsu” this place has enough hype to choke a humpback whale. I knew I had to try it.

We had been down in Santa Cruz all day and on the way home (after sitting in traffic for almost 3 hours) desperately needed something to eat. I noticed that we were very close to where Orenchi is located and at a time when the line should be at a minimum. Pulling into the parking lot I knew immediately that last bit was not true. Thankfully we found a parking spot right in front of the door making it much easier to wait. Estimated wait: 90 minutes. At 6:30pm on a Sunday night.

The smell coming from inside was glorious. We at down and I ordered the famed “Orenchi Ramen”. I decided to leave it exactly as is so I could see what the hype was like without any alterations or interference from extra ingredients. The only extra item I got was a second egg since I had heard they were so good.

My bowl appeared shortly after and it was beautiful. The broth was thick and creamy, speckled with black garlic oil, and loaded with small vessels of delicious fat. It had a very complex yet clean taste with layers of flavor that really complemented each other. It was easily one of the best tonkotsu broths I have had. The noodles and toppings were all very well done with the chasu being a supreme specimen. The eggs were stellar as described by everyone I spoke too prior to us arriving. It was without a doubt a fantastic bowl of ramen, especially for $9.50, except for one giant problem.

The wait.

I cannot justify a 90+ minute wait for this ramen. It was great, really, however for how long I had to wait for it I was expecting the second coming of Tanpopo or something here. It just really was not worthy of a wait that long. The biggest problem is the food is so good and the place is so small that they can’t keep up with the demand. This would be a 5 out of 5 for me if it wasn’t for that wait.

I highly recommend trying it out, however if you can get there on off hours do it.

Matt

Dish: Orenchi Ramen
Location: Orenchi
Address: Lawrence Station Shopping Center, 3540 Homestead Rd, Santa Clara, CA 95051
Price $9.50
Rating: rating_4

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HIMIWARI: Spicy Tonkotsu Deluxe Ramen

This is the fifth time i’ve eaten at HIMIWARI, its quickly become my #1 goto place for Ramen close to work. I love the vibe at the restaurant (Jazz, records on the wall and Ramen), the place is always busy and the food is always top notch. . While I’ve tried numerous dishes on the menu, I keep coming back to the their Spicy Tonkotsu Deluxe Ramen which is a lovely mix of pork bone broth, chili and green onion. I love the mix of flavors, I love how the green onions cut through the richness of both the broth and if you order the deluxe version, you get some of the best tasting Pork Belly I’ve had in Ramen yet. Whenever I have a “work lunch” and people feel like Ramen, HIMIWARI is usually my first recommendation.

Himiwari

Dish: Spicy Tonkotsu Deluxe Ramen
Location: Himiwari
Address: 202 2nd Ave, San Mateo, CA 94401
Price $13.95
Rating: rating_4

MEN OH: Extra Rich Tokushima Ramen

This is the twelfth time I’ve eaten at MEN OH TOKUSHIMA RAMEN. till one of my favorites in San Francisco, that will never change. Recently however they have introduced a “special ramen” which they only serve 10 bowls of on a daily basis, once they are out for the day, they are out! This “Extra Rich Tokushima Ramen” which is a Pork Bone and Soy based soup with all the usual bells and whistles. While still being an enjoyable bowl of Ramen, I didn’t like it as much as my usual choice, the Spicy Tonkotsu Ramen, there was still the smooth complexity of MEN OH‘s Pork Bone broth but I didn’t find it “extra rich”, in fact I found it somewhat thin.. Im glad I tried it though as I can now add Tokushima Ramen to my repertoire of flavors tasted. MEN OH still remains one of my favorites in the Bay Area.

Menoh

Dish: Extra Rich Tokushima Ramen
Location: Men Oh Tokushima Ramen
Address: 5120 Geary Blvd, San Francisco, CA 94118
Price $9.95
Rating: rating_3
Website: http://www.menohusa.com/home/