Honestly, if it was not for Yelp, I would never have stopped by at the Ringer Hut. It is located in the quieter area of San Jose and further from home compared to 6 other ramen places. Meep and I were out and this was one of the closer ramen options.
Ringer Hut is a Japanese fast food chain that specialises in Nagasaki dishes like Champon and Sara udon, that has been around since 1963. This San Jose location has been around for over 20 years. This is the only franchise outside Japan!! Gotta love San Jose and abundant ramen joints.
I found the name really strange for a Japanese chain so I looked it up. Apparently it is named after a British merchant (Frederick Ringer) who has contributed to trade in Nagasaki.
Hard to miss the giant sign along Saratoga Ave.
The name itself does not scream “Ramen” nor does the building or the interior of the restaurant. Meep and I could not stop laughing at how it feels like a diner and we can’t get over the “feel” of the place. It was pretty packed for a Thursday evening, which was a great sign.
Even the bar and open kitchen is reminiscent of an old school diner~
They have a 4 page menu, with some appetisers, noodles, rice plates and bento boxes.
Noodle options were their signature Champon and different variatons, Shoyu ramen, Tonkotsu ramen and more.
I found it odd that only the regular Champon & Regular Shoyu Ramen has combos – noodles and a choice of gyoza, teriyaki chicken donburi or pork fried rice. I ordered the Miso Champon and was charged full price for sides~
On every booth/table there are condiments for gyoza, chili oil, soy and more.
Miso Champon $8.75
Champon noodles were invented in Nagasaki by a Chinese restaurant (Shikairo) to feed the mass Chinese students in Nagasaki so it is a “Chinese Japanese” fusion of sorts. Broth is made with pork bones, chicken bones and bits of seafood.
Delicious broth is the primary flavours being chicken and sweet cabbage. I didn’t really taste the miso, it was salty, very creamy and not the least bit oily. Definitely tasted like the product of hours and hours of labour. There was also a nice hint of heat, which was surprising but good.
There was a lot of cabbage, bean sprouts, some shredded carrots that still maintained a little crunch and added a nice sweetness to counter the salt in the broth. The bits of shrimp, fish cake and meat in the broth were small bits and chewy. Didn’t care much for them but they probably added to the flavours of the soup.
I really enjoyed the thick curly yellow noodles. They were surprisingly silky, cooked more than the ramen noodles so it didnt have that “toothsome bite” but I liked it that way.
Overall, very satisfying bowl of delicious noodles.
Tonkotsu Ramen $8.45, 2 extra slices of pork $1
Pork based broth with chashu pork
I could not get enough of the porky and umami-licious broth. Primary flavours were pork and a distinct kombu or soy sauce flavour. I could not put my finger to it. The broth was salty, milky, full bodied and not the least bit oily. The chashu were thick generous slices, quite tender with bits of soft fat. We did add more because one piece is never enough. I didn’t care much for the 1/2 hard boiled egg.
The noodles were the thin, straight version and a little too al dente for my liking. They were surprisingly bland and did not absorb any flavours from the delicious broth.
These were actually pretty darn good. it is prepared by steaming then pan frying(as advertised). The skin was delicate with a nice chew and crust from the pan frying. Filling was moist, porky with bits of cabbage. Definitely tasted freshmade.
Pork Yakimeshi (Pork Fried Rice) $5.75
The fried rice was fried with chunks of braised pork and vegetables. The rice was fried well, each piece was coated nicely with seasoning. The vegetables give a nice sweetness to the rice but I am not a fan of these frozen vegetable bits. I didn’t care much for the pickled ginger, which was very overwhelming. Overall, pretty average but still tasty.
Total Damage: $38 (including tax & tip)
Personal Rating: 3.25 out of 5 (Good)
Prices here are a little cheaper than our regular ramen joints and is actually pretty good. Service is pretty darn efficient – we got sat immediately, orders taken and served to use in under 10 minutes. Then when Meep was just checking out the spare menu I kept for picture taking, someone came immediately to see if he needed to order more food. And we got our bill and take out box seconds after we asked.
Meep thought this was his favourite tonkotsu broth but the noodles were inferior to our favourite place. This is definitely a great back up plan because it is opened later and hits the spot.
1072 Saratoga Ave
San Jose, CA 95129
(408) 554 0877