Spoons Up! The 10 Best Ramen Bowls In The Bay

Each day, we hope and pray the weatherman will let us catch a break with some sun-shiny rays — but the odds aren’t exactly in our favor. Instead, we’re blanketed with a cooling mist that never fails to have us shivering away during these “summer” months. We may not be able to control our outside conditions, but we can certainly work things from the inside — with a warm belly!
That’s why we went searching for the hottest, tastiest bowls of must-slurp ramen. What’d we turn up? The downright yummiest noodles, from a vegan dish filled with every veggie under the sun to a scorching basin of habanero ramen, you’re going to want to make more ram space in your belly for these yummers. Discover each bowl after the jump, you’ll warm right up to each in no time.
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Photographed by Maria del Rio
Fried-Chicken Ramen, $9 to $10, at Hapa Ramen
After strolling through the windy Embarcadero to the Ferry Building, we suggest warming up to a nice large bowl of Hapa’s fried-chicken ramen once you arrive. The panko-battered, rice-oil-fried poultry soaks up the pork stock for a crispy, yet juicy bite. And, you can get in your local organic greens with spoonfuls of arrowhead cabbage, scallions, summer squash, and green beans. We won’t judge you for licking the bowl clean.
Hapa Ramen, outside the Ferry Building every Tuesday and Thursday, 1 Ferry Building (at the Embarcadero); No phone.
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Photographed by Maria del Rio
Arisen Best Combo Ramen, $10.75, at Ajisen Ramen
Okay — we know what you’re thinking: What is a chain ramen house, that’s smack-dab in the mall, doing on this list? Hear us out! First off, who doesn’t need a warm, comforting bowl of soup after a hard day of shopping? Second, Ajisen’s best combo ramen has got it going on! The noodles are ridiculously soft, the pork broth is oh-so-creamy, and the wheels of green onions, cabbage, and ’shrooms top it all off. In fact, the next time you’re inside the Westfield don’t forget to pick up some shoes after heading over just for the ramen.
Ajisen, 865 Market Street (at 5th Street) Suite C12; 415-357-0288.
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Photographed by Maria del Rio
Hokkaido Miso Ramen, $16, at Ramen Shop
This gorgeous bowl is exactly what it looks like: A decadent take on Hakkaido-style ramen — the chef even spent time in the region to master the technique. The colorful array of toppings include squash blossoms, smoked salmon, kikurage mushrooms, ground pork belly, corn kernals, and a soy-marinated egg. Underneath all that goodness is a light miso broth and springy egg noodles. The smoked salmon breaks off into smaller morsels that spread throughout the broth for an overall smoldered taste. We won’t blame you if you don’t come up for air while eating this bowl.
Ramen Shop, 5812 College Avenue (at Oak Grove Avenue); 510-788-6370.
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Photographed by Maria del Rio
Deluxe Ramen, $12 to $13, at Waraku
We’re always eager to buddy up with the new kid on the block, but we think freshly opened Waraku is having more than just beginner’s luck with its impressive bowl of deluxe ramen. Inside the swanky, modern restaurant (that opened in March!) you can chow down on the deluxe bowl that holds nothing back in terms of flavor. Choose between two broths: Tonkotsu or Shoyu (the chef recommends the former) and then you’ll get a bowl chock-full of every ramen-eater’s dreams: cashu and kakuni pork, a smoked egg, sweet kernels of corn, bamboo shoots, mushrooms, bean sprouts, green onions, and seaweed. Phew! In other words, it’s quite a delicious mouthful.
Waraku, 1638 Post Street (at Laguna Street); 415-292-3388.
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Photographed by Maria del Rio
Wonton Ramen, $9, at Tanpopo
For an unrefined bowl of ramen that still has a twist, head to Tanpopo and order its wonton version of the soup. The quaint resto — located in the heart of Japantown — is wholesome and the same could be said of its ramen. The broth is darker and more savory than any other on the list, for an umami taste meatlovers will continue to crave post slurp. However, the real prizewinner here is the doughy-soft wonton that the venue, luckily, doesn't skimp on. Note that Tanpopo has a $15 card minimum, so you might want to bring some cash handy, and come extra hunger to finish your bowl — there’s a 50-cent charge for a to-go box. Despite these monetary hurdles, grubbing on this bowl with exra-thick egg noodles will make sure you don’t leave with a bad taste in your mouth.
Tanpopo, 1740 Buchanan Street (between Sutter and Post streets); 415-346-7132.
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Photographed by Maria del Rio
Roku Ramen, $11, at Izakaya Roku
Izakaya Roku may only have one ramen on its menu, but let’s just say this noodle-filled bowl is all the resto really needs to please our palettes. If the roku ramen looks like the inside of a volcano to you, there’s a good reason: It’s a fiery, throat-burning bowl thanks to the spicy tonkotsu and rayu oil added in. Beyond the heat, this deep bowl comes packed with pork broth, egg noodles, green onions, cashu pork, mushrooms, and a soft-boiled egg. It’s the kind of dish that you will have you slurping every last drop.
Izakaya Roku, 1819 Market Street (at Octavia Boulevard); 415-861-6500.
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Photographed by Maria del Rio
Habanero Ramen, $10, at Ramen Underground
The habanero ramen dish started as a special at this FiDi hole-in-wall noodle house, and is now a mainstay at the restaurant, although it’s not yet printed on the menu. Ramen Underground may be tiny, but its pant-inducing bowl delivers big flavor that will knock even spicy-food enthusiasts back in their place. Beyond the inferno-like mouthfuls of broth that’s filled with habanero peppers and pork, the ramen is slightly salty and is sprinkled with uncooked mushrooms. Twist your chopsticks around the unbelievably supple noodles, and don’t forget to make sure you have plenty of water handy before chowing down.
Ramen Underground, 355 Kearny Street (between Pine and Bush streets); 415-765-9909.
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Photographed by Maria del Rio
Vegan Ramen, $11, available at Ken Ken Ramen
Vegans, were you starting to feel left out of this noodle party? Consider Ken Ken’s animal-free dish your official invite, so grab those chop sticks! Instead of meat, the Mission ramen destination loads its broth with green apples, mushrooms, leeks, onions, carrots, and its own house-made miso paste. And, don’t you worry about the noodles, they’re made of flour, not eggs. We promise, flavor was not compromised with this dish in the least bit. It’s topped with two large crescent-shaped pieces of creamy pumpkin and cuts of bakchoy, ’shrooms, and bean sprouts are added in the mix for a dish that feels like it was stewed in a Japanese garden.
Ken Ken Ramen, 3378 18th Street (between Mission and Capp streets); 415-967-2636.
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Photographed by Maria del Rio
Ritsu Tonkotsu Ramen, $9, available at Izakaya Sozai
You know you’re in for a mouth-watering bowl of ramen when the dish is named after the chef, who was born and raised in Japan, no less. Another indictor? The line outside the door before Izakaya Sozai has flipped over the open sign. The Ritsu Tonkotsu Ramen is traditional, and the resto lists it under the “after sake” menu, since ramen is mostly eaten in Japan after a night of drinking to alleviate after-party effects. The bowl itself has a pork broth that manages to be both creamy and light at the same time. Dunk your spoon in and you’ll find cashu pork belly, scallions, seaweed, and a soft-boiled egg that soaked up all the broth’s flavors, amongst the al-dente egg noodles.
Izakaya Sozai, 1500 Irving Street (at 16th Avenue); 415-742-5122.
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Photographed by Maria del Rio
Shrimp Tempura Ramen, $7.50, at Genki Ramen
If you’re looking to add some “crunch” to your “slurp," Genki’s crispy shrimp-tempura ramen is all about texture. The bowl alone is simple with miso-base broth (which has both pork and chicken added) and uber-soft strings of noodles. For this dish, it’s what’s on the side that counts. Two pieces of tempura-fried shrimp comes on a separate plate, along with pieces of yams and pumpkin, and the battered nommers are to be dunked into the soup. The large portion of seaweed, along with the shrimp, gives this bowl the taste of the sea we’ve been fishing for.
Genki Ramen, 3944 Geary Street (between 3rd and 4th avenues); 415-752-2663.