One of my absolute favorite dishes from our time spent in Japan, Tan Tan Men, is a somewhat rare dish to find here in the states. Himawari in San Mateo offers a rendition of the dish, the Japanese version of Dan Dan noodles, that is pretty much spot on to what I have enjoyed in Tokyo.
In my experience (I may be incorrect) Tan Tan Men is often started with a pork, or tonkotsu, base and then sesame paste is added to the broth to mimic the peanut flavoring in the Dan Dan noodles. A heavy dose of chili oil and garlic is added and then the usual assortment of toppings.
Himawari’s bowl features ground pork, chashu, stewed pork belly, green onions, bean sprouts, a seasoned boiled egg, and a nice healthy clump of cilantro. As an extra, I choose to add my favorite, sweet corn. The stand out to me of this dish was the broth. A rich, heavy, and very spicy example of the sesame broth I have come to love, the broth was fantastic. The sesame added a wonderful heavy nutty flavor that complemented the buttery fatty flavors of the pork.
The toppings were all fresh and flavorful with the stewed pork belly really standing out. Fatty and rich, but moist and tender with no chewiness or dryness to be found. The veggies, especially the cilantro, added a nice counter to the flavor and spice of the broth.
Overall the dish was a fantastic example of a Tan Tan Men style ramen and satisfied my craving. No real complaints at all, only reason I am giving it a 4 out of 5 is because it can’t quite sit side by side with the best I have had. It’s also slightly on the expensive side at $13.00.
- Dish: Tan Tan Men Deluxe
- Price: $13.00
- Extras: Sweet Corn $1.00
One of my new favorite ramen places, Himawari is located on 2nd Ave. in downtown San Mateo. Having been here a few times before I already knew they make a great bowl of ramen. For this lunch outing last Friday I wanted something a little different since I’ve been doing a lot of the same “spicy” ramen lately. I choose to go with a classic dish from the Hokkaido/Sapporo region, Miso Butter Corn.
After a brief wait (They are always quite quick with your order) my lunch arrived and it looked great right from the start. The toppings all colorful and fresh, with the standard “chunk” of butter slowly melting and adding a rich creamy texture to the broth. Included with the order is a very generous portion of sweet crunchy corn, bamboo, green onions, chashu, and bean sprouts. For an extra I added a seasoned boiled egg to the order.
The broth was good, but a bit on the lighter side for a miso. It had great flavor with a good hint of salt, but the telltale “nutty” tones that accompany a nice heavy miso broth was missing. This isn’t bad a thing, but it was a bit disappointing. I think having the heavier miso base would have made this ramen spectacular. Once the butter was completely melted and worked into the broth it had wonderful creamy almost thick feeling that complemented the corn really well.
The other toppings were fresh and tasted great, however the chashu was a little overcooked and almost dry this time around. This hasn’t been typical of my previous visits, however combined with the lighter miso broth wasn’t as good as the other offerings I have had at Himawari. The seasoned boiled egg was a stand out though as it was perfectly boiled with a custardy yellow center and just the right amount of seasoning. Easily my favorite part of the lunch.
Overall I wouldn’t say it was a bad bowl of ramen by any means. In fact it’s still quite a bit better then a lot of places out there serving the dish. I was more so just a bit disappointed with this one due to the previous experiences being pretty much spot on. I am going to give this one a 3 out of 5 for now, and may try it again to see if either the broth or the chashu improves.
- Dish: Miso Butter Corn Ramen
- Price: $9.50
- Extras: Seasoned Egg: $1.00