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Darumaya Nama Ramen @ Mitsuwa, Saratoga

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Darumaya Nama Ramen @ Mitsuwa, Saratoga

Melanie Wong | Sep 5, 2005 11:56 PM

Thanks to KK's post on the weekend's Hokkaido food festival at Mitsuwa, I stopped there on Monday on my way south. The noodle booth was preparing bowls of shoyu, miso, or shio ramen from fresh (nama) ramen packs imported from Japan for $6.99. The packages were also available for home use for $5.99 per two-pack.

The liquid soup concentrate was placed in the bottom of an individual plastic bowl, then hot water was added to create the stock. Individual packs of fresh noodles were opened and dropped in boiling water. The noodles were drained then put in the bowl with the stock and lifted a few times to fluff them up. The marinated bamboo shoots (menma) also came from a package, but not an individual serving size, so I don't know if that's part of the nama ramen pack or not. A slice of chasu, a spoonful of toasted sesame seed, some green onions, chopped wakame, and a square of nori topped each bowl.

I had asked the cashier which of the three flavors was the best. She said that she liked the shio (salt) the best, but individual preference was more important. I went with her choice and it was actually quite good with interesting salt tones and chickeny flavor though more loaded with MSG than the local versions of this stock. The bamboo shoots were very good, better than most of what's served around here. The noodles were also good, maybe cooked a little more than I would have liked, but the cook was making multiple bowls at once and not watching the time that carefully. They didn't soften in the hot broth and had an attractive silkiness. The piece of chasu, which I assume is not part of the pack, was tasty but too parched on one end.

Using a processed soup stock, the quality of the noodles allowed this bowl to beat out a large number of the local ramen offerings, coming in at #28. Many of our restaurants would serve a better product if they used this mix. Maybe that says more about the low quality of ramen served around here than it does about the quality of the mix.

PERSONAL RAMEN RANKINGS

1. Ramen Halu, San Jose
2. Santa, San Mateo
3. Ryowa, Berkeley
4. Himawari, San Mateo
5. Ryowa, Mountain View
6. Tanto, Sunnyvale
7. Maru Ichi, Mountain View
8. Do-Henkotsu House of Tokushima Ramen, San Jose
9. Gen Ramen, Fremont
10.BY Grill, San Francisco
11.Norikonoko, Berkeley
12.Masa’s Sushi, Mountain View
13.Oyaji, San Francisco
14.Hatcho, Santa Clara
15.Maru Ichi, Milpitas
16.Tomoe, San Rafael
17.Ringer Hut, San Jose
18.Izakaya Mai, San Mateo
19.Ramen Club, Burlingame
20.Tazaki Sushi, San Francisco
21.Ramen Rama, Cupertino
22.Ogi-San Ramen, Cupertino
23.Kaimuki Grill, San Mateo
24.Tanto, San Jose
25.Okazu Ya SF (Noriega), San Francisco
26.King’s Garden Ramen, Newark
27.Sushi Bistro, San Francisco
28.Mitsuwa Hokkaido food festival, Saratoga
29.Lakuni, San Mateo
30.Iroha, San Francisco
31.Miraku Noodles, Walnut Creek
32.Manpuku, Berkeley
33.Tanpopo, San Francisco
34.Sushi Yoshi, Newark
35.Suzu Noodle House, San Francisco
36.Oidon, San Mateo
37.Sapporo-ya, San Francisco
38.Kamakura, Alameda
39.Tokyo Ramen, Milpitas
40.Katana-ya Ramen, El Cerrito
41.Hotei, San Francisco
42.Bear’s Ramen House, Berkeley

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