Following up on previous Hapa ramen post: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/706932 .
I went today to the Hapa ramen stand at the Thursday SF Ferry Building market. Arrived at 11:05; had bowl in hand at 11:20. I ordered the slow-cooked pork shoulder ramen, which came with a couple of beans, corn, some thick-ish bitter greens (collards?), nori, and a few scallion rings, for $10. I added an egg for $1.50 extra.
The photo does not convey how shallow the bowl and how small the portion was. The broth – not that hot to begin with – cooled quickly, and there was too little to submerge the noodles and keep them warm. Part of the pleasure of ramen is the hot broth into which the noodles can be pushed down, warmed up, lifted out, then cooled off in the mouth, but not with this shallow bowl of warm broth.
The broth is a roughly even mix of dashi, chicken-bone stock, and pork-bone (tonkotsu) stock, according to the chef. I tasted mostly dashi, with the fishiness of bonito overpowering the meat flavors. The tonkotsu added fattiness, so the effect overall was oily dashi. I liked the tender pork shoulder, which was quite sweet but worked well with a leaf of the bitter greens in the same bite. Good noodles: firm and thick, the way I like them. I would have liked more scallion to balance the fishy stock. The egg was a bust: even the white was fairly runny, so it as well as the yolk partially dissolved and thickened the broth. I think they had unpeeled cooked eggs in a warm-water bath, which they cracked to order into the bowl – the traditionally cooked ramen egg, itself braised in a soy-based stock with a firm white and thick wet yolk, would have been much more successful, imparting more taste while not interfering with the soup.
Overall, it didn’t come close to my favorite bowls of ramen in the US or Japan. Scant, warm broth is a big barrier for a bowl of ramen to overcome, even if all else were perfect. I see how a bigger, brothier bowl would be difficult to handle in a serving set-up requiring disposable dishes, but maybe the Ferry Building really isn’t the right venue for ramen.
ferry building, San Francisco, CA