Armed with KK and Alices recs linked below, William and I continued our ramen rounds with a stop at newly opened Maru Ichi three weeks ago. My brother usually goes for big, so he ordered the Maru Ichi special ramen. I decided to expand our horizons beyond tonkatsu (pork flavor) and ordered the miso ramen. We also tried the small side dishes.
The side orders were inexpensive, but also uniformly disappointing. The kara age fried chicken is what William calls Q-Cup style, meaning cut into boneless chunks with the skin, marinated and only a light dusting of starch. Unlike Q-Cups the version here has no basil or herbs and was much greasier. The gyoza were served in a steamer basket, but unlike described on the menu, they were crispy and golden brown from deep-frying and didnt taste like much of anything. We sent back the California roll, after pointing out to our server that the rice was dried out and crusted over and the avocado had turned gray-brown. The replacement was fresher, but made with fake crab was too sweet and also wet from too much mayonnaise. Rather disappointing considering how good its sister restaurant, Sushi Tomi is. William commented that the fried chicken and the gyoza are much better at Ryowa a couple blocks away.
That said, we really liked our ramen. The noodles were the weak point, but both broths were richly flavored with beautiful balance, comparable to Santas version of each. We drank every drop of each. I had a bit of Williams special as soon as served and liked it best in its unadulterated state. Alices instincts were right. Trying it again later, the mix in of the spicy mentaiko took away from its charm. The miso was round and deep with the right touch of sweetness. The jelly mushrooms are indeed cloud ears cut into julienne. The side of stewed pork, made from pork belly (bacon), was deliciously fatty. The seasoned egg with a core of creaminess to the yolk was not as complex in taste as Halus.
Other bites we thought the kimchee was too fresh still. Maybe it will improve with age. We had the flan for dessert. Offered as part of the kiddy meal or ala carte, it was served in single serving foil-topped plastic cup. The labeling didnt include the ingredient list other than to mention that it was a dairy product. It was light brown with a pudding-like consistency that didnt taste like it had any eggs in it. Medium sweet, it had an unpleasant metallic tang and a bitter near burnt flavor in the finish.
William has already been back a couple times to order the tonkatsu ramen with an extra order of the stewed pork. While he prefers Halu, Maru Ichi is closer to where he works and is priced a little lower.
From the business card, the name and contact info:
Maru Ichi Noodle House
368 Castro St.