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Restaurants & Bars

Ryowa Ramen House, Berkeley

Melanie Wong | Feb 1, 200404:45 PM     6

Missing my chance to eat at Berkeley’s dearly departed Athithi, I couldn’t be consoled by anyone else’s South Asian food. Instead I invested my lunch time yesterday to check out KK’s rec for the handmade noodles at Ryowa. Very happy with the choice.

This was my first time at this location, and it’s been a while since I’d eaten at the original in Mountain View. The Berkeley branch on University Ave. has more table seating, plus a tall counter with 11 seats that wraps around the kitchen.

The handmade noodles are listed as “special noodles” on the menu for a $1 supplement. I ordered these as “fresh side pork noodles” and for old times sake, also the fried chicken.

The fried chicken was as good as Mountain View’s. Love the spicy sesame dipping sauce and the side garnish of shredded tender breast meat with cabbage and mayo. I also helped myself to the pot of complimentary garlicky kimchi.

The fresh side pork turned out to be braised chunks of fatty fresh bacon. Mostly fat and softened rind, the meaty parts of this pork stew were a little tough and dried out, I’m not sure I’d order this again. But I liked everything else about this bowl of ramen, maybe because it didn’t have any fermented bamboo shoots that are sometimes too funky for me. The broth was chestnut brown and clear. It’s thinner than the gelatinous wonder of Halu’s, yet still had intense flavor and was not as greasy. There was a vegetal sweetness, ginger accent and depth that reminded me of Hong Kong style light pork broths other than the heavier hand with salt. The bowl was topped with seaweed, a small bunch of bean sprouts, and some chopped scallions.

The handmade noodles are certainly the way to go here. They’re wider, thicker and wavy. The texture is more toothsome than the standard issued and the noodles don’t turn overly soft by the bottom of the bowl.

Thanks for the tip, KK!

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