As an old Japanese tradition and one of the most difficult foods to recreate at home, ramen has been my go-to comfort food for a long time. There's everything to love about the highly seasoned broth that took no less than 10 hours to make, the chewy texture of the noodles, and the best way to eat a hard boiled egg. "Authentic" ramen shops are hard to come by in the Bay Area, so I thought I would share one with you today. 

The most important part of ramen is the soup base. That's why on busy days, there can only be a limited number of bowls served. This is also why there are usually few options or variety at a ramen shop. There are a couple traditional ramen places in the Bay Area, but the one I go to the most is Santa Ramen in San Mateo. They offer 4 main flavors of soup with different spice levels. To guarantee your soup of choice, you should probably get to the restaurant at its opening time, especially on the weekends. Even then, there may already be a line. Many people opt to stand in line and wait since the restaurant operates in a very fast-food-esque style. (At its busiest, the waiter will take your order while you're in line, before seating you).

Now I don't know what "authentic" ramen is. I've never been to Japan (but I would love to) to try it myself. But there's no doubt that Santa Ramen gets it right. The noodles don't taste like pre-fried, waxy packaged instant noodles. Not that I don't love instant noodles ("Doll noodles", as the Chinese affectionately call it), it's just that when I go to a Japanese-owned noodle shop, I expect a little more than wavy yellow noodles soaked in MSG. That being said, Santa Ramen delivers. The noodles are cooked to the perfect chewy texture. (Overcooked noodles in hot soup are nowhere as satisfying.) The soup is always flavorful and generously spiced. Because of the spices though, I tend to get very thirsty afterwards - so order water/tea! 

As I said, like any ramen place, the restaurant (or "Noodle House") runs very fast pace, serving customers as quickly as possible to decrease the wait time. The staff, however, remains very friendly and hospitable, making the ambience very homely. Whether it is a quick bite with friends or lunch with family, this is sure to fill anyone's appetite. 

Japanese people take their noodles very seriously, and it's not hard to see why. Bringing a bowl of ramen from the kitchen to the table can take a whole day's work, all to be consumed in under 20 minutes. That alone makes the ramen industry so inspiring. If you're still not impressed, maybe you will be after watching the first episode of The Mind of a Chef, a series narrated by Anthony Bourdain which talks all about ramen noodles! (This post was inspired by that episode as well.)

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  1. This looks so good. <3
    I've heard so much about ramen, but I've never had it. Really want to try it, though! X!

  2. It looks so yum! I'm always up for noodles, ALWAYS!

    Areeba // I Have A Messy Bun


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