Address: 3378 18th St, San Francisco, CA 94110
Ramen: Tan Tan Men Ramen with Miso Broth, Minced Pork, Togarashi Mushrooms, Green Onions, Garlic Oil & slow-cooked Egg
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.
Place: Ramen Iroha Akiba
Address: Japan, 〒101-0028 東京都千代田区 神田花岡町１−１(8th Floor, Yodobashi Camera Akiba)
Ramen: Sichaun Spicy Miso Negi-tama Ramen
Description: Blend of miso based tonkotsu soup with marinated ground pork, chasu, negi (green onions), seaweed, chili oil, cayenne pepper strings, and seasoned boiled egg.
Price: 1,190 Yen
REVIEW: Ramen Iroha’s version of Tantanmen had an amazing robust flavor and super fresh ingredients. The noodles were perfectly cooked and the portion was just right. As this is one of my favorite types of ramen I was very happy with my choice. As expected it was nice and spicy with some good hits of heat from the cayenne pepper strings. The fresh crunchy negi strings really added a great balance to the spice as well. Only complaint was that it was a bit too oily for my liking, but it didn’t really take away from the overall dish.
One of my absolute favorite dishes from our time spent in Japan, Tan Tan Men, is a somewhat rare dish to find here in the states. Himawari in San Mateo offers a rendition of the dish, the Japanese version of Dan Dan noodles, that is pretty much spot on to what I have enjoyed in Tokyo.
In my experience (I may be incorrect) Tan Tan Men is often started with a pork, or tonkotsu, base and then sesame paste is added to the broth to mimic the peanut flavoring in the Dan Dan noodles. A heavy dose of chili oil and garlic is added and then the usual assortment of toppings.
Himawari’s bowl features ground pork, chashu, stewed pork belly, green onions, bean sprouts, a seasoned boiled egg, and a nice healthy clump of cilantro. As an extra, I choose to add my favorite, sweet corn. The stand out to me of this dish was the broth. A rich, heavy, and very spicy example of the sesame broth I have come to love, the broth was fantastic. The sesame added a wonderful heavy nutty flavor that complemented the buttery fatty flavors of the pork.
The toppings were all fresh and flavorful with the stewed pork belly really standing out. Fatty and rich, but moist and tender with no chewiness or dryness to be found. The veggies, especially the cilantro, added a nice counter to the flavor and spice of the broth.
Overall the dish was a fantastic example of a Tan Tan Men style ramen and satisfied my craving. No real complaints at all, only reason I am giving it a 4 out of 5 is because it can’t quite sit side by side with the best I have had. It’s also slightly on the expensive side at $13.00.
- Dish: Tan Tan Men Deluxe
- Price: $13.00
- Extras: Sweet Corn $1.00