Boiled gyoza afloat in a spicy miso-pork broth at Ippudo.
When the traffic gods cooperate so that Interstate 880 isn’t a nightmare…
When you find parking off bustling University Avenue easily…
And when there is no line at Ippudo, so you can stroll right in for a seat immediately.
Because, I mean really, is there any better way to spend a rare relaxing Sunday afternoon than slurping up a big bowl of ramen?
A column in the center of the dining room.
A few weeks ago, I was fortunate to enjoy all of that when my husband and I waltzed into one of the Bay Area’s hottest new ramen joints just before 5 p.m. to enjoy an early dinner, which we paid our tab for at the end. Normally, there would be a line out the door. But we managed to beat the crowd. And this place can fill up fast because it’s not very big. A nice touch are the black boxes underneath the table to stow a purse or backpack so you don’t have to just drop them on the bare floor.
Chef-Owner Satoshi Ikuta realizes a dream by opening his first U.S. branch of his Ramen Nagi.
Ramen Nagi doesn’t open until June 25 in downtown Palo Alto, but you might as well get in line pronto for the first outpost in the United States of this Tokyo ramen chain that boasts 35 locations in Asia.
I can’t say I’ve eaten at every ramen joint in the Bay Area, but I’ve definitely enjoyed my fair share. And Ramen Nagi’s may be the best I’ve had.
Yes, it’s that incredible.
These noodles, made fresh on site every day, are a cut above.
Basil and parmesan ramen — yes, really.
At a sneak preview media dinner a week before the official opening, I had a chance to sample five different bowls of ramen, plus a variety of side dishes, most of which are not available at any other Ramen Nagi locale elsewhere.
Chef-Owner Satoshi Ikuta, who founded Ramen Nagi in 20014, even flew in from Tokyo for the occasion.
Jinya Ramen Bar is the newest ramen joint to open in the South Bay.
Broths made with Fuji water for purity of flavor, and simmered for 10 hours. Noodles aged for three days in-house. Plus a modern spin on ingredient combinations.
That’s what Jinya Ramen Bar is all about.
With more than 20 locations in the United States and Canada, the first Northern California one opened in February at Westfield Oakridge Center in San Jose. A second Bay Area outpost, this one in Pleasanton, is expected to open shortly.
Japanese restaurateur Tomonori Takahashi opened the first Jinya, which is named for a Samurai soldier, in Studio City in 2010.
Husband-and-wife team Alan Vu and Tracy Than own and operate the San Jose one. The former Silicon Valley engineers are franchise veterans, having owned Mrs. Fields cookies and Popeyes chicken ones in the past. Ramen is decidedly harder, they told me when I was invited in as a guest of the restaurant recently, because of the larger, more complex menu.
The kitchen crew at dinner time.
Bowls to be filled.
The kitchen takes up much of the indoor space, with small tables centered around it. Two outdoor seating areas, one of them covered, expands the restaurant’s capabilities.