Last week I stopped here for a bowl of noodles, lured by the review in the East Bay Express. The menu presents a bewildering number of dishes, further complicated by an exponential multitude of set combo orders, plus specials posted on the walls and more at the sushi bar. Most of the tables around me were eating sushi, but I was here for ramen. Dozens of broths and add-ins to choose from made my head spin.
After flipping back and forth through the multi-page menu and craning to read the boards, I eventually resigned myself to trying the basics. I selected the plain ramen set with onigiri, which included salad and gyoza too.
I yanked the bamboo shoots out of the bowl, as the aroma told me these were the type I would not like, before they could pollute the broth. However, this could not save the day. The pork-flavored broth was dark brown and incredibly greasy with a thick oil slick. It did leave a sticky film in the mouth, but was rather thin. Muddy in taste and slightly bitter in the finish, it didn't beckon to be eaten. The noodles, made in-house, were fine with a springy, almost wiry bounce to them. The roast pork was well-browned on the outside, unlike other examples, saltier, but on the tough side. The bean sprouts tasted like dirt.
The pair of gyoza had a thick and dullish wrapper that tasted like it had been cooked earlier and reheated. The filling was compact and tough. The warm onigiri were fluffy and loose, one filled with salty plum and the other with salt fish. The highlight of this meal was the corn salad. There's something about those creamy style Japanese dressings that I love.
All in all, a lot of food for not much money, but nothing that tasted particularly good. Given the reputation of this place, "best ramen in the East Bay", I'm wondering what I should have ordered instead?
Katana-Ya Ramen Japanese Restaurant
10544 San Pablo AVe.