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Restaurants & Bars

Kuro Ramen @ Maru Ichi, Mountain View

Melanie Wong | Dec 26, 200410:44 PM    

Led by posts from Hong Cho -

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and tanspace -

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regarding changes and especially the Kuro ramen at Maru Ichi Noodle House in Mountain View, I stopped here Tuesday evening on my way south. It was pretty desserted at first, but soon got busier and was full by the time I left around 7pm.

I ordered the Kuro broth as the Maru Ichi special ramen with extra noodles, meaning that it came with kakuni, egg, mentaiko, and some really beautiful bean sprouts for $10.75. Kuro means "black", and despite knowing this, I gasped at the blackness of the brew when it was served. However, the black color is in the oil floating on the surface. The underlying stock is a cloudy caramel shade of brown. The aroma has a faint roasted garlic tinge, yet the taste is even milder with a round nutty flavor that absolutely seduces. I didn't find any of the burnt tones that others have complained about. The black roasted garlic powder leaves a hazy shadow around the rim of the bowl as the surface level of the broth sinks.

This was a bigger than usual bowl, leading me to assume that the extra noodles were part of the initial serving. But no, a rice bowl size portion of plain boiled noodles showed up some 5 to 10 minutes later. This batch was firmer and more to my liking, although they didn't soak up the flavors as much. The noodles now made in house (the machine is in the front window) are better than before, but still not exceptional and not really worth getting an extra portion unlike at Halu or Santa.

The stewed pork belly kakuni was wonderful, deliciously soft and unstringy meat with luscious fat and fine flavor. The slice of char siu was too dry, but had decent seasoning. Underneath the mentaiko (spicy cod roe) was a seasoned egg, still creamy in the center but with an oddly rubbery overcooked white. I'm finding that I'm not that fond of the mentaiko and will make a note to skip it next time.

With the improvement of the housemade noodles to above average and this new delicious kuro broth, Maru Ichi rises above the two examples I've tasted at Himawari to #5 in my affections.

PERSONAL RAMEN RANKINGS

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

Link: http://www.japaneserestaurantnavi.com...

Image: http://home.earthlink.net/~melaniewon...

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