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Tonpo Pork Ramen and Takoyaki @ BY Grill (SF)

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Tonpo Pork Ramen and Takoyaki @ BY Grill (SF)

Melanie Wong | Mar 31, 2005 12:52 AM

Shortly after asking about this place, I had a chance to check out the ramen. At 6pm on a weeknight, I was the only customer the whole time. Taiwanese rock videos played continuously and there was a motorcycle parked inside. I found out that the owners/management are from Taiwan.

A single page menu with the ramen options was handed to me. When I was asked what I wanted to drink, I ordered tea. Later I asked to see the drinks menu, which turns out to list not only beverages but also a small selection of Japanese and Taiwanese small eats. If I hadn't asked for the beverage menu, I guess I would never have seen the "izakaya" selection.

Spotting takoyaki, I asked whether these were precooked then microwaved or made to order. My waitress hesitated, then said, "we'll make it fresh for you", which sounded like that's not always the case. The thin crisp crust attested to their freshness. And, I'm still tickled by dancing bonito flakes. My only quibble would be the oversaucing, but after removing some of it, they were just fine.

Encouraged by this small success, I decided to spring for a bowl of ramen. As K. Black describes in the linked thread, pork, shoyu and miso are offered. You can also build your own toppings from the list of options. I didn't know what "tonpo pork" might be so I picked that instead of char siu, and added corn just for kicks. I had beginner's luck in choosing well here, as I loved the combination. The corn was infused with buttery richness and somehow tastier than other versions I've tried. The dollop of melted butter and corn seemed to capsize its raft of nori. The pork had a savory marinade and carmelized richness from heat searing and roasting. Not from the belly but made from another fatty and well-marbled cut, these pieces of tender and very flavorful pork made this bowl stand out for me. The tonkotsu-style pork broth was good with a milky caramel-colored tone, nice density, and meatiness. It was more Chinese-y and lacked the salty accents I associate with ramen stocks, but delicious in its own right and good to the last drop. A generous serving of noodles soaked up the flavors nicely, and didn't soften in the bowl.

BY GRILL
3226 GEARY BLVD
San Francisco, CA 94118
(415) 221-9960

PERSONAL RAMEN RANKINGS

1. Ramen Halu, San Jose
2. Santa, San Mateo
3.&4. Ryowa, Mountain View and Berkeley
5. Himawari, San Mateo
6. Maru Ichi, Mountain View
7. Tanto, Sunnyvale
8. Gen Ramen, Fremont
9. BY Grill, San Francisco
10.Masa’s Sushi, Mountain View
11.Tomoe, San Rafael
12.Tokushima Ramen Do-Henkotsu, San Jose
13.Ringer Hut, San Jose
14.Kaimuki Grill, San Mateo
15.Okazu Ya SF (Noriega), San Francisco
16.Ramen Club, Burlingame
17.Sushi Bistro, San Francisco
18.Lakuni, San Mateo
19.Iroha, San Francisco
20.Manpuku, Berkeley
21.Tanpopo, San Francisco
22.Suzu Noodle House, San Francisco
23.Oidon, San Mateo
24.Katanaya, El Cerrito
25.Sapporo-ya, San Francisco
26.Tokyo Ramen, Milpitas
27.Hotei, San Francisco
28.Bear’s Ramen House, Berkeley

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