|Photo courtesy of Men Oh Tokushima|
Men Oh Tokushima Ramen: For those in search of authenticity without a California twist, check out this newly opened Inner Richmond noodle house, which is only the second stateside outpost of a popular ramen chain in Japan. (The other is in Union City). They specialize in housemade Tokusima-style noodles and a rich made-from-scratch tonkotsu broth (5120 Geary Blvd.; 415-386-8802).
Ken Ken Ramen: Like Hapa Ramen (see below), this post-punk Mission Ramen shop is a brick-and-mortar outpost of a popular pop-up. The space is bare and reverberates with blaring rock 'n' roll, the hours are limited (Thursday-Saturday, 6-10 PM) and the selection of noodles is limited, but it’s one of the few in the city that offers a vegan option (3378 18th St., 415-967-2636).
Katana-Ya: It’s hard to tell if this hole-in-the-wall Downtown Japanese is always packed because it’s tiny and doesn’t take reservations or because the giant bowls of super-chewy noodles served in a variety of broths are really the best in town, but either way, expect to find a line of tourists, pre-theater types and budget gourmands waiting outside at all hours of the day and night (430 Geary St.; 415-771-1280).
Ramen Underground: Can’t bear the lines at Katana-Ya? Consider walking around the corner to this other Downtown hole-in-the-wall Japanese newly opened by a Katana-Ya vet. The bowls are customizable, but beware, all those toppings add up, and if the wait is longer than you like, you can always order ahead for takeout (355 Kearny St.; 415-765-9909).
Hapa Ramen: We’re all still waiting for former Nopa chef Ritchie Nakano to open his anticipated Hapa restaurant at 1527 Fillmore, but in the meantime you can find him - and his groaning bowls of artisan-style ramen - slinging crazy add-ons such as whipped lardo and pickled pig's ears at his lunch stall on Tuesdays and Thursdays at the Ferry Building and Fridays at Off The Grid at Fort Mason (1 Ferry Building, location varies, check website).