Thursday, September 12, 2013

South Bay Eats: Ramen & Japanese Fusion

Broth is everything when it comes to a good soup-based noodle dish.  For ramen, my standard of excellence is Hakata Ramen Shin-Sen-Gumi in LA reviewed here.  Orenchi Ramen in Santa Clara comes the closest so far in the Bay Area (probably 8.5-9 out of Hakata's 10).  If you scrutinize the broth, you can see little bits of pork fat for extra rich flavor.  Per ramen enthusiasts, this is the mark of a top-notch eatery.
Tonkotsu Ramen - fantastically flavored broth, noodles with a good bite, and loved the slight char on the chashu (roasted pork)

Perfect soft-boiled egg

Karaage (fried chicken) - very tender, moist and fresh (definitely not frozen and fried)

Next up is Gochi Japanese Fusion Tapas (apologies in advance for the poor photo quality.  I considered forgoing this part of the post, but the food was so good that I really wanted to share this place).  There were 2 standout things in the Yelp reviews: Hamachi Carpaccio and Clay Pot (we ordered the Sake Oyako Meshi - grilled salmon w/ salmon roe version):
Hamachi Carpaccio - fresh fish and nice flavors, but have had similar at other eateries

Salmon Clay Pot Rice - SO good!  I've found many clay pot rices fall on the bland side and rely too much on some kind of added sauce component.  Not the case here.  Well seasoned and incredibly flavorful.  We ordered a small (typical size for 2 people), but will be going for a medium next time because we couldn't get enough of it.

The best parts were these crunchy bits of rice

You have the option of adding dashi-soup to your rice for $2.50.  I would definitely recommend this - it was like 2 meals in 1.

Teapot of dashi-soup

If you have any Bay Area favorites, please do share!  We love exploring good eats :)

21 comments:

  1. yum, i love orenchi, but i hate the line! (same with gochi, but at least you can make reservations.) if you like gochi, there's another izakaya called dan izakaya that's pretty good! the ambience isn't as nice, but it's also run by japanese people, so the food is authentic.

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    1. Thanks for the recommendation!! I really loved Gochi so am excited about trying something similar :)

      Yes, definitely about the Orenchi line! We got there 20 minutes before opening and there were already a considerable amount of people ahead of us (~50)!

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  2. I've been living in the Bay on and off for the last 8 years - and loving it! A few of my favorites:

    San Tung (SF)
    Rangoon Ruby (Palo Alto)
    Mama Chen's Kitchen (Cupertino)
    Umami Burger (SF and Palo Alto)

    P.S. Love Gochi! Have you tried their pizzas? Other yummy izakaya places - Sumika Grill, Gokaku, and Tanto.

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    1. Ooh, Emily, thanks so much for this list! We've had San Tung in mind for a while, but know it gets packed so have been trying to find a good way to get there early or go at an odd time. Am excited about the other options too!!

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  3. Thanks for this post, S!! I'm going to the bay in December and will definitely be referring back to this list!

    cute & little
    Vote for my YOUphoria outfit!

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    1. You're going to love it! Let me know if you need any cuisine recommendations!

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  4. this looks SOOOO good!!!! how do you keep your gorgeous figure with all this awesome food! tell us your secrets!! :)

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    1. P, you are so sweet! I literally snorted a little about the gorgeous figure part, but I know you're being kind :) This battle of the bulge has been going on for SO long now, but I'm trying to at least balance out the amount of extra food we eat with extra workouts. Cycling has been my go-to since December and it appears to be keeping most of the food in check. We've been doing 5 hours on the weekends and I try to eat healthier on weekdays :)

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  5. Orenchi is very good, but i feel that the broth is a bit too fatty for me; i almost got tired of the rich flavoring.

    You should really try Ramen Dojo in San Mateo. The broth is a little bit more complex... it is however, tiny, and if you do go, try to get there 30/45 minutes before it opens or the wait is out of control.

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    1. I went to Ramen Dojo once, but had a cold. Talk about being stupid! I couldn't taste anything at all. I definitely need to go back with taste buds intact! Thank you for the waiting tip!

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  6. this post has made me VERY hungry...good job, S. :D I especially like the karaage.

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    1. LOL, I thought about you when ordering the karaage :) Based on all of the recommendations, I think San Tung might meet your fried chicken needs!

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  7. I grew up in South Bay and those two picks would be on the top! If you like Korean oxtail soup, you must try Kunjip http://www.yelp.com/biz/kunjip-restaurant-santa-clara-2

    And I agree with the other comment that Ramen Dojo is popular in San Mateo (where I live now), if you like spicy ramen.

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    1. Hi Jen! Thanks for the Kunjip and Ramen Dojo recommendations! I've never had Korean oxtail soup, but now I'm intrigued!

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  8. omg this looks so good! I'm craving ramen right now...

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    1. Thanks Jessy - I'm craving ramen too, lol! Need to go back again soon :)

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  9. This looks so good! I recently discovered a new opening in Chinatown, and although it was good, it didn't have a soft-boil egg, which would have complemented the ramen perfectly, and they didn't have as many options on the menu as I would like.

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    1. I've heard that Ippudo in NYC is amazing! Have you been?

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  10. Oooh I love Gochi! I don't visit South Bay too often, but I went to Sushi Maru for lunch and got one of their specials and thought it was really good. I also liked their seared salmon belly sushi. Tomi Sushi is also pretty good too. For Chinese food, Fusion House in Fremont has been a recent discovery for me (and I LOVE Snowflake next door, for dessert).

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    1. I HEART sushi - thank you for the recommendations! We also love Snowflake!! Have you had the milk tea shaved ice? SO good!

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  11. i LOVE orenchi! (specifically for their delicious egg). the broth is delicious but i find it can be a little salty. I haven't tried Hakata Ramen Shin-Sen-Gumi but i'm curious! So far my all time favorite is Ippudo BUT the orenchi egg is still better.

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I'm the type of gal who gets giddy when I receive mail - it's no different with comments! I really appreciate the feedback and love hearing from you :)

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