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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Ken Ken Ramen: TAN TAN MEN RAMEN

Address: 3378 18th St, San Francisco, CA 94110

Website: http://kenkenramen.com/#welcome

Ramen: Tan Tan Men Ramen with Miso Broth, Minced Pork, Togarashi Mushrooms, Green Onions, Garlic Oil & slow-cooked Egg

Price: $14

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.

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SCORE: rating_2

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