When you think of food trucks, you rarely ever think Ramen but one fateful Saturday afternoon, I was proven wrong. As my wife and I walked around the Soma Streat Food Park in San Francisco, I spotted a few people tucking into some ramen. I thought to myself, Ramen from a food truck? I gotta try this!
After looking around, I finally found the LEI FENG JAPANESE FOOD TRUCK with a modest line of five people. Lei Feng is known for their Sushi but here they were, serving Ramen in style from their very own Truck. The menu boasts three flavors: Shoyu, Shio or Miso, along with four Add-ons: Egg, Kimchi, Chashu or Corn. Finally the broth itself is pork-bone based and simmered over 5 hours which is decent for a food truck in my opinion. Each bowl comes with: Chashu, Bamboo shoots, Fungus, Green Onion, Chives, Shoga & Sesame Seeds. I opted for the Miso Ramen with an added egg (gots to have an egg) and waited for my steaming bowl of goodness.
I was pleasantly surprised with how full my ramen bowl was, lots of pork, a full egg, tons of bamboo & shrooms to boot. There was an ample amount of steam coming off the bowl as well. I was pleased with my first taste of the broth as well, ample flavor with a little bit of richness. Obviously with a longer simmer, there would be far more richness and complexity to the broth but this one was good knowing it was a 5-hour deal. The veggies were fresh and the chashu was on point. I was however, disappointed with the noodles, they were extremely “al dente” and could have used another 30 seconds to cook in my opinion.
Overall, I am pleased to say that there is decent ramen available via the LEI FENG FOOD TRUCK in San Francisco. While there are dozens of great Ramen restaurants in the Bay Area where you can find a far superior bowl of goodness, this is Food Truck Ramen and it is surprisingly enjoyable.
Dish: Miso Ramen w. Egg
Location: Lei Feng Food Truck, Soma Streat Food Park
Address: 428 11th St, San Francisco, CA 94103
New to San Franciso but not to the ramen game is Ramen Yamadaya. Originating in L.A. Ramen Yamadaya opened it’s first spot in San Francisco’s Japantown back in December 2013. Located on the walking street between Post and Sutter it is on the second floor of one of the many buildings lining the street.
Famed for its 20 hour Tonkotsu broth, Ramen Yamadaya’s main entry way has a massive hand written banner explaining the process and time required to make their broth. Naturally I had to go for my absolute favorite the Spicy Tonkotsu. Again the kitchen was exposed to the seating area and it provided a wonderful glimpse into the making of each bowl. Cooks scooped and poured and tossed all the goodies required to make each bowl with gusto.
The bowl arrived at the table and instantly I knew this had the potential to be a game changer. The broth was thick and fatty and had a robust scent that filled the area around the bowl. In the center was a nice ball of the spicy chili paste surrounded by the corn I had added as well as green onions and 2 halves of seasoned boiled egg.
First taste brought an overwhelming rush of flavor to my palette. Rich and heavy the broth was phenomenally seasoned with a nice layer of saltiness that complimented the creamy fatty undertones. A slight hint of sesame and garlic carried over to the end and won me over with each slurp of the spoon. The toppings all fit very well and the spicy chili paste gave it just enough heat to liven up an already spectacular bowl of noodles.
Easily now one of my top 3 ramen shops in the Bay Area, Ramen Yamadaya is a must go if you are a fan of Tonkotsu ramen. They are open late too which is great.
- Dish: Spicy Tonkotsu
- Location: Ramen Yamadaya
- Address: 1728 Buchanan St, San Francisco, CA 94115
- Price: $9.45
- Extras: Corn $1.00
Another newish establishment in San Francisco, Fujiyoshi started as a small pop-up in 2013. They eventually moved into their full time spot on Post St. just up from Union Square. The restaurant itself isn’t anything super trendy or fancy but reminds me much of the small ramen shops in Tokyo. Kitchen is right up at the front when you first walk int with part of it being in a window looking out on the street. All the noises and smells fill the small seating area and gives it a great atmosphere.
They offer several different dishes, which span the range of the usual suspects. My choice was the Spicy Tonkotsu which is hands done my favorite variety. Fujiyoshi allows you to customize your dish a bit more then most places which is really nice. You have a choice of spice level, noodle type (thin, thick, wavy), and how the noodles are cooked. I opted for the thin noodles cooked normal (tender but with a little bite to them) and spicy (out of mild, medium, spicy, and very spicy) for my main choices. I then also added corn to the dish.
The bowl arrived nice and piping hot seemingly almost boiling. The spicy chili paste bright red in the center of the bowl flanked by some nice green onions and a gorgeous half of seasoned egg. The broth was noticeably clearer then most Tonkotsu broths I am used to but it had the telltale fat floating right on the top along with some garlic and sesame seeds. The broth flavor was rich and salty with a sticky hint of fat. It had a nice robust range and really was deceptive for how clear the broth was.
The noodles were exactly as ordered and had a really nice tender bite to them. Flavor was good and they really complemented the broth. Add to that the nice fresh toppings and a killer seasoned egg and this dish was a winner.
As a new place in town I think Fujiyoshi really stands out. The atmosphere was good and the ramen very satisfiying. I’d highly recommend visiting if you are in the area. While not quite at the top of my list, this was a damn fine bowl of noodles.
- Dish: Spicy Tonkotsu
- Location: Fujiyoshi Ramen
- Address: 639 Post StreetSan Francisco, CA
- Price: $11.00
- Extras: Corn $1.00