Well, after reading Melanie's many ramen reports, and remembering the rumors that Tomoe in San Rafael was rumored to be closing (due to retirment of the owner couple), I called tonight to see if they were open, and indeed they are.
So I headed up and had the ramen, just to see how it compared with the others on Melanie's list.
Now, the only one on her list I've been to is Ryowa, so I'm only up to #3 (as I recall). So my calibration would not be as accurate as hers.
Tomoe was good, not great, ramen, but the charm of the place, and the authentic (grubby) interior brings me back to some of my favorite ramen shops from when I lived in Tokyo.
That said, here's my view on Tomoe's bowl:
1. Good noodles, not great. Relatively thin gauge closer to angel hair than spaghetti) but good texture and "snap" when bitten.
2. Broth - Tokyo-style (shoyu) with nice balance of fat and saltiness, but still something missing. It's a little bit rich, but not terribly complex.
3. Pork - four nice slices of cha-shu, well marbled. Not as tender as I'd like, but nice flavor and fresh meat.
4. Others - a square of nori, some bamboo with an interesting flavor (less pungent than some I've had), and a couple slices of fish cake.
Overall, a good, but not great bowl of ramen, but hey, this is Marin - I'm just glad to have some at all!
I would encourage you to go to Tomoe for a taste of real atmosphere, but it's very very low key. Try the gyoza, and perhaps the ten-zaru if it's not out of season yet - all the Japanese magazines they had there were well into the "Aki" fall-seasonal stuff. And the ramen was hot so we've missed out on "summer ramen" for now.
Melanie - where else can I go in Marin???