Restaurant Review: Ramen Shop (Oakland, CA)

Baby spot prawn miso ramen with ground pork belly, soy marinated egg, corn, torpedo onions, wood ear mushrooms, and shungiku

Baby spot prawn miso ramen with ground pork belly, soy marinated egg, corn, torpedo onions, wood ear mushrooms, and shungiku

Ramen Shop in Oakland just might be serving the best ramen in the Bay Area right now.  This restaurant opened with a lot of hype due to the pedigree of its chefs, alumni from Chez Panisse in Berkeley who had gone to Japan to train in ramen.  Write-ups appeared in Bay Area publications and even the New York Times, and crowds quickly followed.  Ramen Shop is known for taking a Northern California approach to ramen, sourcing their ingredients locally from NorCal and making everything from scratch, including their noodles, which is something not many local ramen places do.

They typically serve three different bowls of ramen, a vegetarian broth with Meyer lemon, and miso, shoyu (soy), or shio (salt) broths.  The toppings also rotate but typically include chasu (pork) and seafood.  I had the miso ramen  with baby prawns, corn, and a soft cooked egg.  I added chasu for an additional $3, and I am glad I did, because it was smoky, rich, tender, and delicious.  The broth was excellent, complex and flavorful without being overly fatty like some ramen places.  The homemade noodles were toothsome and perfectly cooked and definitely make Ramen Shop unique.  Really great.

I have tried Santouka and Kahoo in San Jose, Orenchi in Santa Clara, Santa and Ramen Dojo in San Mateo, Namu Gaji in San Francisco, and a few more that were unmemorable.  I think that Ramen Shop ranks right up there with Ramen Dojo as my favorite.

The restaurant is located in the Rockridge neighborhood in Oakland, right across the street from the famous Zachary’s Pizza.  There is an open kitchen with counter seating as well as lots of tables.  Ramen Shop opens for dinner at 4pm, and it’s a good idea to go early, because they do not take reservations and the restaurant is very popular.

Link to Ramen Shop here.

Eat Real Fest Oakland

The Eat Real Fest is an annual food festival held at Jack London Square in Oakland, CA, on the waterfront in the East Bay near the container port of Oakland.  The festival showcased many of the great food purveyors in the East Bay and the whole Bay Area.  There were prepared food stands and trucks, and everything was limited to $5 or less.  One of the highlights was The Whole Beast, which had a butchering demonstration on perfectly roasted whole lamb and sold lamb gyros and meatballs.  I tried their great lamb poutine, thick-cut seasoned fries topped with a rich gravy with lamb cheeks and cheese curds.  Whole animal butchery was also on display at the Chop Bar, which offered delicious barbecue pork and cornbread.  One of my favorites, 4505 Meats, had a ridiculously good sandwich called The Fat Bastard, which was a buttery toasted English muffin, honey mustard ranch, chicharrones, pickled jalepenos, market greens, melted aged Gruyere, juicy pork and beer sausage, and house made sauerkraut, all on one sandwich!

It was fun to see all of the local start-ups at the marketplace: there were local chocolates, tempeh, sauerkraut, southeast Asian jerky, pastas, jams, cheese, and baked goods.  Starter Bakery in Oakland had Kouign Amann, a flaky, sticky, buttery pastry with different fillings such as cherry pistachio, which sold out, necessitating a second afternoon delivery that many waited for.  I also really liked the cool t-shirt designs representing the 510 from loakal.

There were classes and demonstrations on pickling, butchering, and other topics that really fit in with the DIY culture emphasized by the Eat Real Fest.  Sour Flour had several bread-making demonstrations.  I went to the bread starter class, where they taught participants how to feed a sourdough starter.  I got a sample and can’t wait to try it to make sourdough bread at home (watch for a future post).  We’re lucky in the Bay Area to have great food events like SF Street Food and Eat Real.

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