Place: Hakkaido Ramen Santouka (Boston)
Address: 66 Hereford St, Boston, MA 02115
Ramen: Tokotsu Kara Miso Ramen: Robust miso paste and silky broth, with a hint of bonito dashi creates the gentle balance flavor. The spiciness gives a nice kick to the flavor. Served with added soft-boiled egg, corn & butter
It was a cold, bright day in Boston and with an hour to kill before heading to the airport, I decided to find myself some local ramen. After a quick buzz online and a few social media recommendations, I ended up visiting the extremely popular Santouka Ramen.
There was a 30-minute wait for lunch as the place is small and very packed. I finally got a table and went for their $15 Lunch Special (a bowl of ramen, with an egg, corn & butter). I went for their spiciest bowl, the Tokotsu Kara Miso Ramen, a solid blend of Tonkotsu pork broth, miso paste and bonito dashi with a kick of chili… of course. I was pleasantly surprised by the mix of flavors, I could taste it all while not being overpowered by one individual taste. The noodles were a perfect al dente, the pork decent and the corn crunchy. Personally I wanted a larger chili kick and my egg was cold on the inside but the flavors were all there and they were enjoyable.
I’d visit Santouka again but I also want to explore what else Boston has to offer in its “ramen game”, but I know there’s a solid bowl there so I’m sure I’ll be back!
Address: 3378 18th St, San Francisco, CA 94110
Ramen: Tan Tan Men Ramen with Miso Broth, Minced Pork, Togarashi Mushrooms, Green Onions, Garlic Oil & slow-cooked Egg
I’ve heard a lot of positive things about KEN KEN RAMEN in San Francisco’s Mission District but I have to admit, I was disappointed with my bowl. We ordered the standard CHICKEN KARRAGE Dish as an appy which was fantastic. For my main, I went with the TAN TAN MEN RAMEN which is one of my faves but what arrived, while appetizing looking was bland and watery. Tan Tan Men is traditionally the heaviest of the ramen broths with bold notes of sesame and spice in an already rich Tonkotsu Broth. This one however was Miso-based but I missed the richness of the Tonkotsu brother and the taste of sesame what nowhere to be found, I also had to ask for additional spice to kick up the floor profile of the bowl. The egg was great, the noodles al dente and the veggies fresh but for me, the broth was a big disappointment. Next time I will have to try a different bowl as the TAN TAN MEN at KEN KEN RAMEN was not the one for me.
Address: 123 Astronaut E S Onizuka St, Los Angeles, CA 90012
Ramen: Miso Ramen with Egg & Corn (Hyper level spicy)
I’ve heard of the legendary Orochon Ramen from friends and Ramen enthusiasts as well as seeing it on Man V. Food a few years ago, I felt it was time for a visit. I wasn’t going to go “balls to the wall” on their spice challenge on my first visit, no I wanted to taste their broth first but at the same time, you know me, I love it spicy. So I went for the Miso Ramen broth, added an egg and asked for a HYPER level spice. At Orochon the spice levels are as follow:
EXTREME Orochon 1
HYPER Orochon 2
IMPACT Orochon 3
OSAE Orochon 5
OSAE-OSAE Orochon 6
NON-SPICY Orochon 7
The Special 2 is the killer, the one that gets you your name on the wall and was featured on TV. Orochon 4 is regular so I went with Hyper 2 and let me tell you, it’s still extremely sweat-inducingly spicy but you still get all the flavors of their excellent Miso broth and fresh noodles. This was a monster bowl of ramen, so much so, I couldn’t finish it (I think the spice had something to do with it as well but really, it was a lot of ramen). If I had one complaint, it was the egg. While tasty, it was ice cold inside and really was a letdown considering the rest of the flavors and heat presented in the bowl. Would I go back to Orochon? Absolutely. Would I ever do their Spice Challenge? If I was a younger, dumber man… yes but I think that ship has sailed for me. Oh well, more tasty ramen for me.