Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Post 6: San Francisco Japantown --> Ramen at Tanpopo

The Japan Center, or Japantown (Nihonmachi), in San Francisco, is home to numerous of shops, boutiques, restaurants and other businesses that provide tourists (as well as locals) a chance to explore Japanese culture right in the city. Click here if you are interested in reading more about the history of Japantown and how it came to be.

When we arrived to Japantown, a lot of stores were already closed for the day. After spending a full day at Fisherman's Wharf, we took the cable car back to the city and rested at the hotel a bit before coming out to Japantown, so it was around 6 something by the time we went. Super cloudy skies and it even started raining. Rain! In San Francisco in August! It was almost unheard of =(

Anyway, it wasn't hard for us to find parking in Japantown. Probably because it was a weeknight. We parked at Laguna street =)

We wanted something light and brothy. Remember, I was already pretty stuffed from my ahi tuna sandwich at lunch and my Dreyer's ice cream afterwards. We knew what we wanted ... and it was ramen. So we wandered around for a bit looking for a ramen place. 

I liked Japantown a lot. This road kinda just opens up in the middle, where little restaurants and stores span both sides. 

Tanpopo. We found a ramen place! It was packed. A very good sign that this is the right place to be.

Hmmmm this explains it =D

Tanpopo is a pretty small restaurant, but it seems like one of those local favorites with a large and loyal following. When we were there, it was bustling and it was only Tuesday. We waited around 15-20 minutes for a table, and many more were still waiting after us.

The kitchen staff and waitresses were all busy trying to keep up with the orders. I was so excited because it must be good! 

Not only do they serve ramen, they also have small appetizers such as deep fried soft shell crab, shrimp dumplings, bonito sashimi, grilled mackerel, fried oyster, crab salad, salmon roe, and yellow tail.

A wide selection of Japanese wine (as well as others...I see some Jack Daniels on top haha)

Four full pages of ramen to choose from! Never seen such a selection before (at least not in Toronto). The ramen was divided into sections based on the different soup bases, and all ramen comes with bamboo shoots, boiled egg, fishcake, seaweed and green onion.

My brother ordered Sapporo. Cold and refreshing. Again with the nice cold mug ♥

Spicy powder at each table which makes everything taste that much more awesome =)

Softshell Crab - This was just... scrumptious! Minimal batter, a pretty meaty crab too. Loved it! Can you see that there are actually two crabs on the plate? The crabs are fried WHOLE! Most of the time soft shell crab is served in chopped up pieces, but not here, you get the whole crab with all limbs attached haha.

Vegetable Ramen - Salt flavor soup with boiled vegatables (cabbage, onion, shiitake, green onion). I ordered this initially because I wanted something light and small. But hmmmm, as you can see, it was quite HUGE with TONS of vegetable.

As for the ramen, hands down the best I've ever had. They were not over cooked (not soft or lumpy) not under cooked (overly chewy or hard), they were honestly JUST RIGHT or AL DENTE. Each strand of noodle is separable, and long, and not broken into little pieces. The taste of the ramen was also very good - I know they may seem tasteless to some, but at Tanpopo,  I could actually taste the "egg" in the noodle. Maybe it's just my imagination =)

Others had the following:

Miso Chashu Ramen - Miso ramen and extra sliced chashu pork.

Seafood Ramen - Salt flavor soup with boiled shrimp, squid, fishcake and vegetables (cabbage, onion, carrot, bean sprouts and shiitake).

Again, Tanpopo is very generous with portions...lots of shrimp in this bowl of ramen too.

Everyone had only praises for their respective bowl of ramen!

I miss this place right now as I'm blogging about it. I wish Toronto has something as good as Tanpopo, in terms of authenticity, selection, variety, and taste. Suggestions, anyone? If you are going to suggest to me Aijisen Ramen, then please save your breath (or time) writing me a comment because I do NOT like that place. Thanks in advance =D

1740 Buchanan Street
San Francisco, CA 94115

My Virgin America Trip to Los Angeles, Caifornia