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San Francisco Bay Area Sunnyvale Izakaya

Zaru Ramen & Izakaya-style Dishes @ Tanto, Sunnyvale

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Zaru Ramen & Izakaya-style Dishes @ Tanto, Sunnyvale

Melanie Wong | Aug 11, 2005 04:38 AM

Last week William and I had a late-ish dinner at Tanto in Sunnyvale. Without a reservation, I've been turned away before. But we were able to get a table just before 9pm. We'd been here soon after this branch first opened and didn't do a very good job of ordering. Happily, we did better this time and liked all our dishes.

Zaru ramen - The cold noodles, served in a traditional bamboo zaru separate from the dipping stock, had a topping of shredded toasted nori. William eyed the red bowl of ice cold stock warily. "What's in that?", he asked. I said, "It's a coddled egg, and judging from the jiggliness, I'd say it's more raw than cooked." He quipped, "So this ramen is cold, AND slimy too?" I went first, dragging a chopstickful of the ramen through the icy stock, and catching the drips on the small plate provided. Silken and slightly chewy, the satisfying mouthfeel of the ramen made me appreciate again how the cold serving temperature without the softening action of hot broth shows off the texture so well. The salty stock garnished with oroshi daikon (grated Japanese radish), ginger, scallions and sesame seed, as well as the egg, was refreshing in temperature and taste. The first flavor that came through was the strong bite of ginger, then the peppery daikon and saltiness kicked it. The loose egg yolk added richness. Behind that were a myriad of sweet, savory, briny, vegetal, and other influences in a beautifully crafted and complex stock. It almost seemed isotonic in its restorative properties. Based on this dish, Tanto moves up the ranking one notch, ahead of Maru Ichi.

Yalu-style gindara - William loves the smoked black cod at Hong Kong-style restaurants, so I ordered this to try a Japanese version of the same kind of fish. Three marinated thin slices had a light grilling to be barely cooked through just turning the corner to near opaque. This careful handling preserved the lush and oily texture of this rich fish. We were very impressed with this dish.

Chijimi - Described on the menu as a Korean-style shrimp and scallion pancake with spicy sesame sauce, it actually had chunks of oyster in it too. Surprisingly, the shrimp were dried out and tasteless, and most of the character of the eggy, omelet-like pancake came from the briny and creamy pieces of oyster. It was a big plate-sized serving and really delicious when dipped in the medium spicy sauce.

Buta na kakuni - This Nagasaki-style braised pork belly has been sold out the three other times we tried to order it. The saucing was beautifully seasoned and subtle, the stripes of fat were buttery, but the meat was a bit too firm though not tough. William put some of his noodles in the sauce and I drank a bit of it even though it was quite salty, it was that tasty and balanced. We probably wouldn't order it again, but we did enjoy it.

PERSONAL RAMEN RANKINGS

1. Ramen Halu, San Jose
2. Santa, San Mateo
3. Ryowa, Berkeley
4. Himawari, San Mateo
5. Ryowa, Mountain View
6. Tanto, Sunnyvale
7. Maru Ichi, Mountain View
8. Do-Henkotsu House of Tokushima Ramen, San Jose
9. Gen Ramen, Fremont
10.BY Grill, San Francisco
11.Norikonoko, Berkeley
12.Masa’s Sushi, Mountain View
13.Oyaji, San Francisco
14.Maru Ichi, Milpitas
15.Tomoe, San Rafael
16.Ringer Hut, San Jose
17.Ramen Club, Burlingame
18.Tazaki Sushi, San Francisco
19.Ramen Rama, Cupertino
20.Ogi-San Ramen, Cupertino
21.Kaimuki Grill, San Mateo
22.Tanto, San Jose
23.Okazu Ya SF (Noriega), San Francisco
24.King’s Garden Ramen, Newark
25.Sushi Bistro, San Francisco
26.Lakuni, San Mateo
27.Iroha, San Francisco
28.Miraku Noodles, Walnut Creek
29.Manpuku, Berkeley
30.Tanpopo, San Francisco
31.Sushi Yoshi, Newark
32.Suzu Noodle House, San Francisco
33.Oidon, San Mateo
34.Sapporo-ya, San Francisco
35.Kamakura, Alameda
36.Tokyo Ramen, Milpitas
37.Katana-ya Ramen, El Cerrito
38.Hotei, San Francisco
39.Bear’s Ramen House, Berkeley

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