After seeing _Lost in Translation_ Monday night, only Japanese food would do. Unfortunately, Sushi Tomi was closed. My movie date had heard that Masas Sushi had taken an up turn, so we called ahead to make sure it was open and gave it a try.
Located next to Dittmers, the interior had been upgraded in recent years. A hand-written sign on the door said that ramen was available that day, as part of a sushi set. We sat at the counter. I asked our sushi chef if he recommended the ramen. He eyed me carefully and asked what style of ramen I liked. The only thing I could say confidently was that I liked Santa and Halu. Hearing this, he suggested that I order the ramen, which was pork flavor.
Of the non-ramen offerings, the only two things Id order again were the shiro maguro tataki, which was garnished with minced pickled garlic and the delicious fried oysters served with tartar sauce (although Vince protested that tonkatsu sauce would be preferable). We also liked the complimentary dish of tempura yam slices with a finely turned dipping sauce. Our luck was not so good with the hamachi, mirugai, sake, maguro, unagi, or the California roll made with surimi and hard avocados. The rice was overseasoned for my taste and the quality of fish was barely average. Likewise, the agedashi tofu and seaweed salad were not that tasty.
The ramen was worthwhile, not great, but still satisfying. The broth was cloudy and caramel-colored with a thick, weighty mouthfeel. We drank most of it. The noodles were not house-made and on the soft side, but very slurpable. The roast pork was the fattier shoulder cut, nicely seasoned and tender. My brother would have approved of the scant topping of green onions, and sweet sake taste of the bamboo shoots. Some bean sprouts and a square of seaweed completed the garnish. In the ramen pantheon, I'd rate it ahead of Ramen Club.
When the other employees were out of ear shot, the sushi guy leaned over to me and whispered that he thought Santa ramen was great. He also gave me a card for the newly opened Gen in Fremont, under the same ownership as Masas and said that while it wasnt Santa, the ramen was very good and better than his own.
Prices were quite reasonable here (shiro maguro tataki @ $4.75), in line with the average quality level. Our experience was mixed, but I bet there are some other gems to be found in the broad offerings.
400 San Antonio