A cuisine that Ottawa lacks is Japanese ramen. And by that, I mean good ramen shops. The kind where noodles and broth are made at the shop (definitely the broth…noodles I will let pass if it isn’t store-made), and the ingredients topping the ramen are just as delicious as the broth and noodles. So while in the metropolitan city of San Francisco, we decided to seek out some ramen shops that knew what they were doing.
355 Kearny between Bush St and Pine St (Financial District)
Our party of three met at this small ramen shop that had opened sometime in 2011. It’s an easy to miss place if you’re just wandering down the street but there was a small crowd already awaiting seats by the time we arrived just before 7pm on a weekday. The wait wasn’t too long and we were ushered inside to a table. Our waitress seemed new to the job (read: awkward) but was friendly. We each ordered a bowl of ramen and had a plate each of gyoza and yakibuta to share. The gyoza was cooked just right (it’s a balance between steaming and frying…not difficult but not as easy as it sounds) and the yakibuta was reminiscent of beef tataki dipping sauce on slices of pork. I had miso ramen, which comes with some charsiu pork and mushrooms…but it just isn’t miso ramen without corn, which I had to order as an extra topping for an additional $1. Not impressed, as miso ramen in my opinion should come with bamboo shoots, charsiu, corn, and seaweed.
I found that the flavor of the broth was overpowered by the mushroom and the toppings were lacklustre, but the noodles were much better than anything I’ve tried in Ottawa. For the three of us, we spent $49 on food (no drinks).
Note that the photo of the bowl of ramen below is of the spicy ramen, not my miso ramen. The spicy ramen has some kick but reminded me more of the green-capped rooster sauce (chili garlic sauce)…slightly vinegar-y.
430 Geary Street at Mason Street (Union Square)
This restaurant is easy to pass by if you’re just wandering aimlessly up Geary St but if you’re walking by at meal times, there’s bound to be a line outside. We arrived just past 6pm and joined four others who already had their name down on a self-serve list outside (love this system by the way, just jot down your name and number in your party, then wait til you’re called). We probably waited 20 minutes before being escorted into a tiny ramen shop with the most eclectic decor. I’m thinking that the space used to be a pub, with its neon lighting and wooden beams on the ceiling, and the bar has become transformed into a sushi bar…but this is just my guess. The service was prompt and because we’d already perused the menu outside while waiting, it probably only spent 20 minutes in the restaurant from start to finish. Of course, it isn’t as though the staff rush you but we had to be elsewhere at a specified time and ordered, ate, and paid as two people on a mission would.
We ordered two bowls of ramen; like at the other shop, I had the Regular miso ramen, which this time came with bamboo shoots, seaweed, and charsiu. No corn and no option to add corn. But I was fine with that because the broth and noodles and toppings were all absolutely delicious! For two bowls of ramen, we spent $18.
Note that you can get spicy ramen here…and it comes out looking very red and spicy. It’s got good kick so be prepared!