Ramen Parlor (San Mateo, CA)

After finishing up dinner at Kokko, all of the gnoshing on yakitori left us still a little hungry, and we decided that some ramen was in order. Luckily, San Mateo and the adjacent communities have no shortage of ramen joints; over a dozen of them in San Mateo alone. In fact, three of them are their own little empire, owned by Kazunori Kobayashi, a Japanese Chef who first started Santa Ramen, serving classic ramen. Then he opened Ramen Dojo, focusing on spicy, stamina-building ramen. And then he open Ramen Parlor as an option to serve up some alternative ramen with different ingredients, particularly seafood. Overall, I was probably most interested in Ramen Dojo, but that wasn’t in the cards: Ramen Dojo wasn’t open that night. So we wandered over to Ramen Parlor to check it out.

Ramen Parlor is a somewhat cozy joint (indeed, if you look carefully at the sign and the interior, you can tell that until fairly recently this was actually a fish and chips joint), and even for a tuesday night, it was quite busy. But after a 15 minute wait, we were seated and reviewing the ramen menu, which included quite a few variations (especially variations such as ramen with lobster broth). But I (and Larry) quickly settled upon the “spicy garlic ramen”, while Yoko settled on the “miso ramen with corn”.

A good ramen is really about two things: taste (coming almost entirely from the broth), and texture (coming primarily from the chukamen noodles, which are prepared with alkali to give them their unique toothy texture). And indeed, my garlic ramen really hit the spot. The broth was a rich, meaty pork tonkotsu broth to which a little bit of spicy hot pepper, and a lot of garlic had been added. Add in a few slices of lightly crisped spicy pork, and a just-barely runny egg, and the result was a splendid bowl of ramen.

Yoko’s miso ramen was enjoyable as well: a flavorful miso-based broth just teeming with fermented soy goodness, and while corn isn’t one of the ingredients I usually expect, it combined nicely with both the rich broth and the same toothy noodles as my ramen.

Overall, Ramen Parlor was a great little ramen spot: Good, rich broth, nicely spiced, with well-executed noodles and special ingredients. I’d love to come back here (or one of the partner ramen shops) and try out some of the more adventurous items on the menu.

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