Its been years since I’ve been to the classic Katana-Ya Ramen shop near Union Square in San Francisco. When I first arrived in SF, it was considered one of the best in the city by loads of folks and always sported a line up (must be that killer location). These days, there are a lot more ramen options around the Bay Area so with a return visit, does this “original gangster” hold up? Let’s see.
I arrived after 1pm on a workday thus missing the lunch rush so my co-worker and I were immediately seated in this small shop with about 20 seats total (usually at peak times there is a 15-30 minute wait). As it has been a few years and I usually ordered the Spicy Miso, I opted to try something different and go for the House Special Katana-Ya Ramen. This is the “kitchen sink” of ramen which includes Chicken Karrage, Potstickers, BBQ Pork, Corn, Scallions, Seaweed and an egg. Now at Katana-Ya you can choose your both base of Salt, Miso or Soy (I opted for Miso), the Density of light, regular or rich (I chose regular) and of course the spice level of little, medium or extra (extra was the way).
The bowl that arrived was somewhat comically large and filled with bits of meat, veggies and gyoza as well as noodles and broth, it was large and honestly looked like a treasure trove of flavors! I enjoyed the gyoza and chicken that were included but found that the Karrage coating got soggy and there were so many competing flavors, the overall bowl lost its way. I would go back and order another ramen at Katana-Ya for sure as their broth is delicious, the veggies fresh, the chashu solid and the noodles tasty but add all those other goodies included in the Katana-Ya Ramen and too much can honestly be a bad thing.
I didn’t hate it but I thought that all those flavors started canceling each other out and the specialness of the Katana-Ya Ramen was diminished. That said, Katana-Ya still delivers a decent bowl of ramen but to me, its got a lot of competition out there that are doing things better.