Ajisen, a Japanese ramen chain, has extended its reach with a branch in San Francisco's Westfield shopping center (there's another one in Fremont).
augustiner tried the tonkotsu ramen with premium pork and received an impressive mound of "super thin shavings (not belly cut ... shoulder?) of lush pork." The broth is super rich, but seems one-dimensional to augustiner—all that porkiness needed some balance. Toppings of blanched cabbage and scallions don't quite do it.
That premium pork is definitely more delicate and flavorful than the regular char siu, says david kaplan. Moist and a little crispy around the edges, it comes from the pork neck. Pork rib is a delicious add-on but turns an already heavy dish into a gut bomb. Adding a topping of corn does wonders to lighten up the broth—the corn is blanched, but not mushy. david kaplan's verdict: "Not as great as Halu (San Jose) or Santouka (I've tried several LA locations), but much better than any other ramen I've tried in SF."
Also new on the ramen scene: Saiwaii Ramen. The tonkotsu broth, initially weak, has improved with eater feedback, says L C. At $1 each, toppings can add up, but it's worth a splurge of $3 for the special option of buta kakuni, "delicious, big thick cubes of fatty pork belly." Pork cheeks are another $3 special topping. Of interest, the restaurant has a sushi chef, Yoshi Fujita of the now-defunct Yo's Sushi Club.
Ajisen Ramen [Union Square]
Westfield San Francisco Centre, 865 Market Street, San Francisco
Saiwaii Ramen [Inner Sunset]
2240 Irving Street, San Francisco