ramen and pickles

science, technology, and medicine served up with some tasty noodles

Monthly Archives: October 2013

Ramen Tenma

Ramen Tenma is one of the several ramen places along Saratoga in San Jose.  It’s tucked in a big shopping plaza next to a Korean BBQ place and a big Chinese grocery store.  It has a very friendly and welcoming feel.  It feels a like like you are in Japan, as it is somewhat cramped, but full of things, such as different promotions, drawings, and quiz questions on the walls.  It is brightly lit, and just makes you feel welcome.   It has a sort of hand-made sort of feel to the place.

The menu listed many different kinds of ramen, and a few were pictured, but it was hard to tell details about the different kinds of ramen based on just the name and some annotation about the broth and noodle, as it doesn’t have you a sense of what toppings etc. are there.

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After having ordered and gotten our ramen, maybe the point is that many of the main ramen types are relatively sparse with add-ins, and you order those a la carte.   The downside of that is that you don’t get as many interesting different things in your bowl without paying extra.  I like my restaurant ramen to have different textures and flavors as I eat through it.

We ordered the bonito ramen and a tonkotsu.

Bonito ramen

Bonito ramen

The katsuboshi flakes gave the broth a good umami taste, and some fishy richness.  Unfortunately, as you can see the egg was almost fully hardboiled, which is always disappointing, as it should be a runny softboiled egg, ideally also steeped in tea, darkening the outer portion.

I ordered an extra egg with the tonkotsu broth, which was even more hardboiled.  A side order of kimchee was also added to get in some fermented pickle.  The tonkotsu broth was good, and the thin noodles almost made this a hakata style ramen, although lacking some of the other fixings.  The broth and chashu were good.  The corn gave it something nice to chew on in addition to the noodles.

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Overall, decent.  They had a Christmas ramen on the menu which had a bunch of other things, including tomato and cheese, and I will have to return and try this before the holiday.

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Ramen Taka

Ramen Taka is in Santa Clara, basically across the street from Santa Clara University, the oldest college/university in California.  From what I can tell, it is a pretty new establishment in the area.   The space is a nice one, larger than I expected, with some bare brick walls decorated with wanted posters from One Piece.   There was a lot of black and it felt a bit like there should be a DJ there or that they should have live music in the evenings.  However, we were there on a Monday afternoon for lunch.  Apparently it is only open  for lunch, and only takes cash.  This is a little bit more in line with a Japanese ramen place serving daytime workers.

The staff was incredibly friendly, and super quick.  It might have helped that there were only a few other people in the restaurant, but I found it very nice to have such attentive service.  The establishment was very clean and organized.

They serve hakata style ramen, the style closely associated with Kyushu.

Hakata style ramen from Taka Ramen

Hakata style ramen from Taka Ramen

The offer some different lunch options, pairing the ramen with things like fried rice or gyoza.  I got the fried rice pairing, a 3 piece of fried chicken, and some spicy takana (mustard green) pickles on the side.

The ramen broth was good, a nice creamy tonkotsu.  Nothing particularly standout or unusual, but good.  The egg was nicely softboiled, and have a very good mouthfeel consistency.  The kikurage had a nice chewiness and flavor.   There was red pickled ginger on the table (which goes with the hakata style ramen), and a little dispenser for freshly ground sesame seeds (like a pepper grinder).  The chashu (grilled pork slice) had a decent flavor.  Not too strong or unusual.  Fairly standard, but well done.  The noodles are one of the things which characterize the differences in hakata ramen.  These are very thin, smooth, whitish and wheaty in taste.  They lack the yellowish alkaline chewiness of more standard ramen noodles.  They are more like angel hair spaghetti than most ramen noodles.   I am really a fan of that yellow chewiness of more standard ramen noodles, but it is an interesting and different change of pace.

The fried chicken was good.  I really liked the fried rice though.  It was only lightly fried, and the mixed in toppings were very finely minced and included kamaboko.  Kamaboko is the Japanese fish cake/paste, typically in pink decorated cylinders which often ends up in circular slices in more traditional ramen or saimin.   I’m not a huge fan of kamaboko, but this was a great use of it.  I could happily eat a lot of this savory rice.

Fried rice at Taka Ramen

Fried rice at Taka Ramen

The takana (pickled mustard greens) was decent.  I asked for it on the side instead of on the ramen, and it came in a beautiful little box.  It was spicy and had some of the roasted sesame oil taste which I don’t love.  It was tasty though, and I like mixing a little takan with ramen.

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One of the beverage options was a yuzu Italian soda, which I found quite tasty.  This is some candied yuzu, ice and soda water.  I really like this kind of soda in general, especially the Vietnames salty plum or lemon sodas, and I loved the flavor that the yuzu gave to it.  It also had that wonderful yuzu smell.  It got me thinking I should try to make my own candied yuzu or candied yuzu peal to put in things.  My only complaint is that it came with the sort of straw that has a short of shovel/spoon thing on one end.  This was not necessary, because they also gave me a long thin metal soda spoon.  A straw which opens up at the end doesn’t let you draw up the last cm or so of liquid.  Anyway, this is such a minor thing, but it did annoy me a little.

Candied yuzu in soda

Candied yuzu in soda

Overall a very good place, and I would heartily recommend it.  If I were a student at Santa Clara, I would probably go there all the time.  The service was great, and I enjoyed having lunch there.

 

 

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More Indian Pickles

I tried a couple of new pickles.  The Mother’s brand Indian gooseberry on the right, and Ruchi mixed pickle on the left.

The gooseberry pickle was okay.  It was a bit tart, and the fact that some of the fruit were quite large and pitted, mixed in with all the red pickle sauce, it made is somewhat difficult to eat with naan.  I wasn’t super enamored with it, but I will finish the jar sometime later.

As soon as I opened the Ruchi mixed pickle, it was extremely dark and unappealing, an oily brownish.  It is supposed to expire this month, so maybe it was a bit old, but the smell was unappealing.   It was extremely spicy as well.  I can’t recommend it.

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Tadamasa Ramen

Tadamasa is a very nice ramen place in Union City, near Fremont, in the East Bay.  The staff was very friendly, and it had a family restaurant type of feel.

For appetizer, we had the panko encrusted fried oysters, which were excellent, some of the best fried oysters I can remember having.  They were large, juicy, and lacking some of the toughness you sometimes find.  They also had a little bit of baby spinach and a delicious sauce, which I think had mirin and ponzu, but was quite good.

We tried the very traditional Sapporo style miso ramen, and the shio ramen.    It was very standard Sapporo ramen, with corn and cabbage.  There was also a little bit of very mild white onion.  The egg was excellent, soft boiled, marinated in tea.  It was very tasty.  The noodles were good and chewy.  The shio ramen had a solid broth, with thick, delicious nori.  The chashu was good.  There was nothing really special or unique about the basic ramen that I tried which would draw me from a great distance.   However, this is a solid, fairly traditional, place, and if I lived nearby I would frequent this restaurant.  There was a coconut miso ramen on the menu which sounds interesting.

 

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Pumpkin Ramen at Halu

Another visit to Halu in San Jose.

The simple bowl of shio ramen was quite good.  The thin noodles are relatively smooth, but have a great consistency and crunchy mouthfeel.  It’s not shown in the picture, but they also have a nice side order plate, which includes things like half an egg, extra chashu, and a bunch of good veggies.  My only complaint was that the add-ins showed up a bit later than the soup, so the broth wasn’t that hot, so when I added in a big pile of veggies, it didn’t get hot.  The broth was tasty.

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The special ramen of this time was the pumpkin ramen.  The nori is cut into the shape of a bat as a nice added touch.  The noodles were a little thicker, and at least here were a little less al dente.  The broth was very rich, with a creamy kabocha (Japanese pumpkin) flavor.

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A nice trip to Halu, and some great seasonal ramen.

 

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