Ramen Yamadaya: Spicy Tonkotsu

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.

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  • Dish: Spicy Tonkotsu
  • Location: Ramen Yamadaya
  • Address: 1728 Buchanan St, San Francisco, CA 94115
  • Price: $9.45
  • Extras: Corn $1.00
  • Rating:  rating_5
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Fujiyoshi: Spicy Tonkotsu

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.

– Matt

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  • Dish: Spicy Tonkotsu
  • Location: Fujiyoshi Ramen
  • Address: 639 Post StreetSan Francisco, CA
  • Price: $11.00
  • Extras: Corn $1.00
  • Rating: rating_4

Men-Oh: Spicy Tonkotsu Ramen

Our long standing favorite place in the Bay Area, Men Oh, needed a follow up test after visiting so many other venues in the area. So I packed up the munchkin on a Saturday afternoon, picked up a good friend of ours, and headed into San Francisco for lunch. The only place in the area that is actually from Japan, Men Oh originates from Tokushima on the island of Shikoku. Operating 12 restaurants all over Japan, Men Oh opened up two venues in the Bay Area. One in San Francisco on Geary Blvd. and 15th Ave. and another in Union City. (They recently opened a new store in L.A. I am told)

Men Oh’s specialty is Tonkotsu ramen, which if you can’t tell yet, is easily my favorite type. My dish of choice is the Spicy Tonkotsu Ramen, extra spicy of course. Men Ohs version of the dish comes with chashu, a seasoned boiled egg, menma (bamboo shoots), chives, karamoyashi (spicy bean sprout), nikumiso, and cayenne pepper strings.

My concern was that, with all the ramen we have been eating since starting up the blog, our favorite wasn’t going to hold up anymore. The bowl arrived at the table and I was instantly reminded why I love Men Oh. The dish was colorful, neatly arranged, and came in a very nicely designed white porcelain bowl. The toppings were all fresh and very orderly placed so that each little bit could be seen. I had added corn and extra nikumiso to my order and they made sure that you could tell they were present.

First taste of the broth was fantastic, just as I had remembered. Thick, heavy, and rich with pork fat, the broth carries all of the flavors and notes of a great tonkotsu broth. The noodles perfectly cooked complemented the broth exactly as they should, carrying the sticky fatty parts that dotted the surface of the broth.

Toppings were spot on and tasted fantastic. The stand out from Men Oh in my opinion is the seasoned boiled egg and the nikumiso. The egg is perfectly cooked and seasoned with a golden custardy center. The nikumiso is somewhat unique to Men Oh (I haven’t seen it very often at other places) and is a ground pork marinated in a delicious miso sauce. The result is a salty and very robust flavor that adds wonderful notes to the broth and other toppings. I can’t get enough which is why I always order extra.

After finishing my lunch, I mentioned to my friend who had joined me that I was worried it wouldn’t hold up. I have been eating some fantastic ramen lately and I had my doubts. My doubts and fears had vanished and I was extremely pleased with my lunch. Still #1 in my book, and my favorite ramen yet. It will be hard to dethrone this one honestly. (Side note, I have eaten at both the SF and Union City locations and there is little to no difference between the quality. So feel free to visit either.)

Also, beyond the ramen, Men Oh offers a fantastic Takoyaki appetizer that is on par with what I have had in Osaka.

– Matt

  • Dish: Spicy Tonkotsu Ramen (Extra Spicy)
  • Price: $9.50
  • Extras: Sweet Corn $.75, extra Nikumiso $1.00
  • Rating: rating_5

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