When does the phrase "chain restaurant" not sound like an insult in San Francisco?
When the chain is based in Japan, perhaps.
Last month, Men Oh Ramen, which has 12 locations in Japan, opened its second United States site, this time in the Outer Richmond.
Lean and moody in black paint and light woods, the ramen shop specializes in the noodle soup of its home region, Tokushima Prefecture. Skip the fried chicken ($4.50), gyoza ($3.75) and spicy ramen ($9): The restaurant's Tokushima ramen ($8.50) is the dish to order.
First, you crack a raw egg into the milky, cola-brown broth and stir. The egg, a classic Tokushima touch, has a wonderful effect: It enriches the already meaty pork-bone broth without rendering it sticky and thick.
The thin, straight noodles have a stiff bite at first, but soften as you eat. Floating on top are bamboo shoots, pork belly braised to a quiver, and ribbons of slightly sweet butabara--marinated and sautéed pork.
Though we've watched young men clean out their bowl and leave in the space of five minutes, McDonald's this isn't.
Men Oh Ramen, 5120 Geary Blvd. (at 15th Ave.); 415-386-8802 or menohusa.com
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