Restaurants & Bars

San Francisco Bay Area El Cerrito

House Ramen and Kara-age at Katana-ya Ramen, El Cerrito


Restaurants & Bars 2

House Ramen and Kara-age at Katana-ya Ramen, El Cerrito

Melanie Wong | Jul 4, 2005 09:54 PM

With reports of changes at Katana-ya in El Cerrito, I headed there yesterday for an early lunch to see if it might have improved. The place looked much the same. I asked my waitress about a new owner and she said that the old owner was still here working alongside the new one.

I tried the kara-age, $4.50, described on the menu as seasoned boneless fried chicken. The mushy chicken meat was overmarinated tasting of salt, garlic and sugar, but not very chicken-y. It didn't taste half bad dipped in the hot mustard. The order was served hot and the breading looked great but the crust was strangely rubbery. It was served with some shredded iceberg topped with ranch dressing and spicy cabbage. After tasting it, I put it aside figuring that it would taste the same as leftovers at home later and wanting to save room for ramen.

This time I tried the "House ramen", $5.95, with chashu, "wantan", egg, corn, nori, and menma, as the wantan have been recommended by a couple posters here. I ordered the noodles "firm". Hard to believe, but this bowl was even worse than my first visit. The noodles were not the same thin style as before. They were firm, but also gummy in texture and stale-tasting. The roast pork had been sliced much in advance and was dried-out and curled up around the edges. More tender than last time, the pork was cooked to death and devoid of any flavor other than salty soy sauce. The egg yolk tasted sulfurous. The wantan dumplings looked promising, actually folded in the traditional way rather than being pinched shuttlecock style. But biting into the thick wrapper uncovered raw floury dough and a cold center of freezer-burned pork. I spit this out. The shoyu stock was a little better, at least it wasn't muddy and bitter like the last time. What could I say about it now? Well, it was wet and warm. It was just there being inoffensive without contributing much of anything.

I asked for a box for the chicken and the bill without eating any more of the ramen. This will be my last visit to Katana-ya. It drops further down the list, now below Sapporo-ya, Kamakura, and Tokyo Ramen to #37.


1. Ramen Halu, San Jose
2. Santa, San Mateo
3. Ryowa, Berkeley
4. Himawari, San Mateo
5. Ryowa, Mountain View
6. Maru Ichi, Mountain View
7. Tanto, Sunnyvale
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.Maru Ichi, Milpitas
15.Tomoe, San Rafael
16.Ringer Hut, San Jose
17.Tazaki Sushi, San Francisco
18.Ramen Rama, Cupertino
19.Ogi-San Ramen, Cupertino
20.Kaimuki Grill, San Mateo
21.Tanto, San Jose
22.Okazu Ya SF (Noriega), San Francisco
23.Ramen Club, Burlingame
24.King’s Garden Ramen, Newark
25.Sushi Bistro, San Francisco
26.Lakuni, San Mateo
27.Iroha, San Francisco
28.Miraku Noodles, Walnut Creek
29.Manpuku, Berkeley
30.Tanpopo, San Francisco
31.Sushi Yoshi, Newark
32.Suzu Noodle House, San Francisco
33.Oidon, San Mateo
34.Sapporo-ya, San Francisco
35.Kamakura, Alameda
36.Tokyo Ramen, Milpitas
37.Katana-ya Ramen, El Cerrito
38.Hotei, San Francisco
39.Bear’s Ramen House, Berkeley



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