Nojo Ramen Tavern: CHICKEN PAITAN SOY SAUCE RAMEN

Place: Nojo Ramen Tavern

Address: 231 Franklin St, San Francisco, CA 94102

Website: http://nojosf.com/

Ramen: Chicken Paitan Soy Sauce Ramen. Whole slow-braised Chicken leg, blackened Garlic Oil, Nira Chives, red & green onions, dashi egg, fish powder, fried gobo ($18.5) + spice bomb ($1.5)

Price: $20

For those of you who have not read Matt’s review of his meal at NOJO posted below, do so now. We both ate there on the same day, at different times and ordered different things but like Matt, mine was most excellent and this is now my #1 Favorite ramen joint in the Bay Area.

I’ve had Nojo recommended to me by a few folks and I am happy to say that those recommendations were correct. The food is incredible and their ramen is god-tier. I know what you are thinking… chicken ramen? No Tonkotu? Wont that be weak and light. Nope. It’s rich! It’s powerful! It’s flavorful! It’s a must try!

Located in Hayes Valley near City Hall, Nojo is always busy. We got there 15 minutes before it opened and there was already a line. We perused the menu , which all looked excellent, but I knew what I was having before I even sat down, the highly recommended CHICKEN PAITAN SOY SAUCE RAMEN. According to the menu, this chicken/soy based ramen comes with a whole slow-braised chicken leg (what?), blackened garlic oil, green onions & a dashi egg! Now, before the main event, we had some amazing appies: Spicy Chicken Fritters, Yuzu Miso Cucumbers, salted Combu Celery and Tofu & Avocado Salad, all of them were fresh & flavorful and highly enjoyable but enough of that, what about the ramen? Well, what greeted me was a steaming bowl of top-tier excellence.

To tell you how good  this bowl of ramen is, I ate everything! Every noodle, every chive, every last drop of broth. Usually I have a few spoons left over because I just can’t fit anymore into my belly but this time, no way was I going to waste this absolute goodness. The chicken leg was fantastic, crispy skin, “fall of the bone” succulent meat that popped the already flavorful broth into the stratosphere. The fresh mix of onions & chives balanced the richness of the bowl perfectly, the noodles were thick and held the broth well and finally the egg was perfect. Despite its high price tag and daunting giant leg of chicken, this was a 5 star bowl of ramen and one that I have no problem recommending as one of the best bowls of ramen outside of Japan.

My wife tried their spicier CHICKEN PAITAN TAN-TAN SPICY MISO RAMEN which was equally delicious, rich, spicy hot with an amazing hit of sesame, I would heartily recommend that one as well. And based on Matt’s love of the TOMATO PAITAN discussed below, Nojo obviously has three amazing bowls worth experiencing so do yourself a favor and get there for a great visit to flavor town! You won’t be disappointed.

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SCORE: rating_5

Nojo Ramen: Tomato Paitan

Address: 231 Franklin St, San Francisco, CA 94102

Website: http://nojosf.com/

Ramen: Tomato Paitan. Shredded chicken tenders, blackened garlic oil, cilantro, grana padano, tomato, fried garlic, scallion, lemon + spice bomb addition

Price: $16

Newish to San Francisco, Nojo is one of many new shops that have made the long trek over from Japan. Nojo’s menu focuses not on the popular Tonkotsu based ramen, but instead on the Chicken Paitan broth variety. Made entirely from chicken parts, the broth is rich and creamy with a very deep flavor. Acting as Nojo’s flagship store in America, the location is conveniently located walking distance from Bart in the Hayes Valley. We arrived at 3:50 for a 4pm opening and there was already a line waiting to get in.

After several recommendations I chose to go with the Tomato Paitan for my main course and my wife picked the famous Chicken Paitan Soy Sauce version. (Tori Shoyu Paitan) We also picked a few sides which included the Nori Avocado, Yuzu Miso Cucumbers, Edamame, and Chicken Nanban. The izakaya dishes were amazing. Fresh, flavorful, and really unique, we enjoyed every last bite.

But we all came here for the ramen, right? Oh my. The Ramen. THE RAMEN. My Tomato Paitan was amazing. A smashing of flavors that assaulted my senses like no other. It was amazing from fist bite until list lick of the bowl. The noodles were perfect, thick and chewy, carrying all the wonderful broth with each squiggly piece. I can’t rave enough about this dish. I also had a taste of the Chicken Paitan Soy Sauce my wife chose and it was just as amazing. Standard out feature of this dish was the whole roasted chicken leg that is included in the bowl! Flavor again was out of this world. (Gio will have a more in depth write up on this one, he also ate here the same day!)

Right now, in my opinion, this is the best Ramen in San Francisco. No joke.

rating_5

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Totto Ramen: MEGA PAITAN RAMEN (NYC)

Address: 464 W. 51st Street (between 9th & 10th), NYC, 10019

Website: http://tottoramen.com

Ramen: Mega Chicken Paitan ($16) with extra Egg ($2) & Extra Spicy Rayu ($2)

Price: $20

REVIEW: It’s a tiny, hot hole in the wall in Hell’s Kitchen but the Mega Paitan Ramen was honestly the first bowl of ramen I couldn’t finish without my stomach bursting, it was that large. Known as the “bestseller” on the menu, this monster bowl of goodness starts with Totto’s house Chicken Paitan broth but then has not one, not two, not three but four different types of pork added to it: Chair Siu slices, pulled Char Siu, pork belly & ground pork. I added a heaping cup of “Extra Spicy Rayu” to the broth that gave it an excellent lingering heat without taking away from the rich broth. The egg itself was excellent, the cabbage crisp, the garlic pungent and overall, it was a flavor extravaganza that I for one could not finish. Probably too much to tackle for someone looking for a regular bowl of noodles (its a lot of pork and a big portion), so unless you want to climb a mountain, I’d stick with Totto’s regular options rather than taking on the Mega Paitan Ramen!

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SCORE: rating_4