Ramen Santouka – San Jose, CA

Ramen~ To be honest, before moving here I was never too excited about ramen. 7 and Cat used to be the only reasons why I would spend over $9 for a bowl of what I saw as Japanese “instant” noodles. Vancouver had a couple popular spots that always had lines around the block and I thought they were overrated.

Maybe it was just the wrong “broth”, or they were just not up to par but I found ramen to be too oily, heavy or just blah. Thanks to A and her recommendation of Orenchi Ramen (review to come), I have now converted.

Meep and I went to Ramen Santouka  in Mitsuwa Marketplace on a rainy Saturday afternoon. I found it odd that this popular ramen spot is in a Japanese grocery store. Santouka is a Japanese ramen chain (great for consistency) that is founded in Japan back in 1988.

We got there at 5.30 and there was a line of over a dozen  people, which was surprising but a good sign!

There is a display of their different noodles and combinations making ordering way easier and faster once you get to the cashier.

You could order different combinations of ramen. Most of the “sets” came with either regular shio, shoyu or miso ramen with 3 different options of a rice bowl and an egg for about $10- $12.

Noodle bowls come in small, regular or large and “extra pork” option.

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We ordered:

Spicy Miso Ramen Regular ($8.45), Chashu rice bowl ($2.49) and an egg ($0.99)

The cha shu rice bowl was pretty average. Rice was perfect but the meat was dry and overall needed more sauce. The egg was just meh… a little way to overdone and added nothing to the dish.

The miso ramen soup is made from a mixture of pork broth and miso paste.

I could not stop slurping the soup. The broth was creamy, thick, full bodied and salty. There was a little heat to it but not so much that I was sniffling. There was also a extra spicy option for this ramen. The soup does get a tad too salty halfway through and I get crazy thirsty after it (MSG???) but it is still delicious and quite addictive.

The pork was delicious and very very tender with just the right amount of fat and the noodles were chewy and had a great texture.

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Extra pork shio ramen, Large size ($10.45)

Shio ramen is the salt flavoured ramen topped with a japanese pickled plum. This is also their signature ramen. Mild and creamy pork broth soup that has layers of flavour.

This broth was a little milder than the spicy miso ramen BUT also very flavourful. I was surprised at how there is not a large amount of “fat” on the top of the noodles unlike some other places I have tried. The pork and noodle was the same as the miso bowl – very good! Tender thick cuts of charsiu with layers of soft fat. Again the soup does get a tad salty but Meep actually didn’t think so.. so maybe my salt tolerance is a little low.

I was surprised at how much noodle was in the Large. The bowl didn’t look very big but it was deep. Meep felt like the noodle was never ending and he has a pretty big appetite.

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Total damage – $26

Personal rating – 4 out of 5 (very good)

Great value for money, great ramen, rice bowl and egg was average. Meep thought the soups were a little heavy because they had so much flavour and “fat” so, not something he would have every week.

But I think it is just the right amount if we had ordered the regular bowls. With the large, it felt a little salty towards the end and we got a little dehydrated.

When we got there at 5, the line was looonggg. It took over 15 minutes for me to order and another 15 for us to get our food. It was pretty disappointing that they were sold out of some items by 5 pm. We originally wanted to order the Toroniku Ramen, but it was sold out. The Toroniku ramen is another signature ramen with the salt flavour noodles and a separate serving of their toroniku cha-shu (simmered pork cheek).

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Ramen Santouka

Mitsuwa Marketplace
675 Saratoga Ave

San JoseCA 95129

(408) 446-1101

Santouka Ramen on Urbanspoon

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