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

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

Ramen Shalala: TONKOTSU KURO RAMEN

Place: Ramen Shalala

Address: 1737 Buchanan St, Japantown, San Francisco, 94115

Website: http://www.ramenshalala.com/

Ramen: Tonkotsu Kuro Ramen

Description: Deep and thick Tonkotsu Broth with Soy Sauce Base Flavor. Includes Chashu, Seasoned Egg, Kikurage Mushrooms, Negi added Corn and “Spice”.

Price: $11.00

REVIEW: Light broth, very flavorful. Nice egg but chewy/bland pork, noodles were a perfect al dente, additional spice did not add a big kick.

 Tonkotsu Kuro Ramen

Score: rating_3