I’ve head about Ramen Shop in Oakland for years, it has a story and if you are a ramen fan in the Bay Area, you’ve heard the name before. The one surprising thing is that people love it or hate it but I haven’t heard of anyone who has loved every bowl they’ve eaten there. They do change their menu daily, so not everything is going to be a hit but with the calibre of talent in the kitchen there should be more wins than losses. Everything about Ramen Shop is great (the decor, the staff, the vibe, the open-concept kitchen, the bar, the cocktails, the menu & the appies) but it has three fatal flaws:
1) The wait. We got their at 5pm and had to wait 100 minutes… what? I could see this happening at 7:30pm but at 5pm? Ramen is supposed to be a quick meal not a lengthy affair and after reading the multitude of reviews here, this length of wait time seems common but to me? That’s unacceptable.
2)The Price. $17 for a bowl of ramen? $17? What is this Times Square New York? Do you get a certificate of pork authenticity with every bowl? In a city where ramen usually costs $9-12, this seems absurd! If you are going to charge $17 for a bowl of ramen, that better be the biggest, boldest, gold-dipped bowl of fireworks inducing Ramen ever served!!! It was not.
3) The Ramen. I ordered the Green Garlic Shoyu Ramen (which includes: a shoyu-marniated egg, black trumpet & hedgehog mushrooms, red spring onions and peppercress) and was greeted with something that looked good but tasted of disappointment. First off I should say that the Egg & Noodles were fantastic, top notch but you only get 1/2 the egg… boo. The pork Chashu was uber fatty thus chewy with little to no bold pork flavor. The various mushrooms and fresh peppercress were welcome flavors but the broth….
This was a Shoyu-based ramen which means Soy Sauce flavored and assari (light) as opposed to a rich, thick koterri-style broth. I love me a good Shoyu but this one was so overtly salty that it actually made me pause. There were hints of smoke and nori and subtle flavors but I tasted no “green garlic” and an always overpowering punch of salt. I know Soy Sauce is inherently salty but this was S-A-L-T-Y! This was the first bowl of ramen I didn’t completely finish, I ate all the noodles but left the broth and if you know me, that’s saying something.
I know Ramen Shop changes its menu almost daily and it has its fair share of fans but that wait, those prices and that disappointing first bowl of Green Garlic Shoyu Ramen means it will be a long time before I venture out to Ramen Shop again!
Dish: Green Garlic Shoyu Ramen
Location: Ramen Shop
Address: 5812 College Ave, Oakland (510.788.6370)