Understatement alert: San Francisco has lost its collective noodle for ramen.
Exhibit A: Richie Nakano's Hapa Ramen debuts at the Ferry Plaza market on Thursday after its recent maelstrom launch at Coffee Bar. Exhibit B: Dennis Lee's lovingly assembled soup appears regularly--in limited quantity--at Namu.
For a fortifying whack of traditional methodology, though, we prefer to slurp at San Mateo's two-month-old Ramen Dojo.
Scribbled on chalkboards, the menu is refreshingly simple: Noodles luxuriate in your choice of stock (shoyu, tonkotsu or miso), dosed with chili oil and dried pepper shreds to one of three spice levels.
Each gigantic bowl ($8.95) contains a few sheets of fatty pork, ground-chicken gravy, a hard-boiled quail egg, kikurage mushrooms, wands of green onion and fried whole garlic cloves.
If you're feeling self-sufficient, customize freely from an assortment of toppings ranging from bamboo shoots ($2.50) to roasted seaweed ($1.25).
To us, the garlicky tonkotsu variety stands out--heaps of shapely, slightly chewy ramen strands brimming in a ruddy brew that stings lips and half-melts insides, not with sheer heat, but with a soothing, pork-infused warmth.
It appears ramen delirium is contagious.
Ramen Dojo, 805 South B St. (at 8th Ave.), San Mateo; 650-401-6568; Wed. through Mon., 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 5:30 to 9 p.m.
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