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A Suzu review - SF Japantown

KK | Aug 8, 2004 10:59 AM

Stopped by SF Japantown yesterday for a late lunch at Suzu yesterday. Unfortunately I have to agree with the most recent review that it was rather disappointing even though nothing tasted terrible.

The menu was entirely in English, and offered a mix of noodles (udon, soba, and ramen). There was a section for fried rice, and also cooked food over rice. Variety was significantly less than Mifune upstairs (also a noodle shop and probably the best one around). This was understandable since the place didn't have more than 5 tables, and the space was previously a Japanese sweets (manju?) shop that was already quite small to begin with.

After reading from earlier reports that the soba would be worth ordering, I asked the waitress if the noodles were indeed freshly made at the restaurant. She said they are but at the factory off the premises. I ordered the tenzaru soba, gyoza to be shared, and my wife had a basic ramen (tho I already gave her a heads up that it might not be good based on one other review, but got it anyway since there wasn't much else that was interesting).

The gyoza was pretty good. It arrived nice and hot, with a small place of sauce that was a mix of chilli oil and something that tasted a bit on the sour side. I guess I got lucky that it was prepared right.

My wife's ramen was typical SF Japantown restaurant ramen (close to Katana-ya's and Miyabe-tei food court in Mitsuwa San Jose), pretty much bordering on instant noodles texture with plain light soy sauce based broth.

The tenzaru soba was really nothing special as it was very similar in taste to Mifune upstairs (who also make their own soba and udon, likely outsourced or in the kitchen, might even machine-made). The portion of noodles given was seemingly smaller than Mifune, though the tempura portion was decent (two large pieces of shrimp/prawn, one good chunk of eggplant, one carrot, one yam, one broccoli, one string bean).
The soba noodles were not bad (I enjoy Mifune's soba), but unfortunately not that far from the dry kind from the supermarket that you could make at home. I guess you could say I'm being too harsh, but if you ever have the chance to visit Waikiki, Oahu (Hawaii) do check out Yabusoba by the beach, on a small side road (Beachwalk Ave) near Planet Hollywood. Not only is their soba hand fresh made on the premises, but apparently done the traditional way. The taste is out of this world.

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