Stepping through the glass door into Ramen Shop is like stepping into a back alley in some forgein country. A large painted fish stares down at you from the rafters, overlooking the front bar, and hangs next an intricate wood paneled wall that separates the restaurant into two distinct areas. Up front is a large bar that keeps patrons happy and boozed up during their long wait, and, behind this, is the dining room and open kitchen.
We put our names on the wait list right at 5:00 pm because we knew that there had been a wait every day since the owners, Jerry Jaksich, Rayneil De Guzman, and Sam White, opened the doors in January. The hostess quickly scanned the list and told us it would be about an hour – Saturdays nights are the busiest. During out wait, we ordered drinks and chatted with the friendly bartenders. The Nee-Guy Spritz, was a gorgeous little concoction of gin, Campari, lemon, mint, cava and cranberry syrup. The bartender was very thorough with each drink, even slapping the mint sprigs. The attention to detail at the bar made the restaurant that much more enticing to me. Even the ice cubes were designed, perfect dimensional cubes that looked as if they had been cut with a knife.
After drying our drinks, our party was called and we were seated at the bar. I am a sucker for open concept kitchens and chef counters, so the bar seating was right up my alley. The chefs kindly greeted us as we browsed the small but detailed menu. The chef that was in charge of the homemade ramen noodles had to taste each batch that went out; making sure that each one was cooked to perfection. I casually mentioned that he must get so full by the end of the night. He smiled and said he switches with the soup chef half way through the night, but it still equates to 7 bowls of ramen a shift! Dedication to quality right there.
Our dinner came out; assorted pickles (+ herring), the Tonkotsu burnt garlic ramen and the nettle fried rice. All were very flavorful and bright. The salt cured eggs were awesome. While the noodles were some of the best I have had in the Bay, the broth was a bit on the salty side for me. The highlight of the night was the black sesame ice cream sandwich—nothing like nutty, smooth black ice cream.
As we walked out that Saturday night, all we could talk about is the amount of attention that goes into each bowl of ramen. That fact alone proves that this staff has a collective passion for the product that they put out, even if it means eating 7 bowls work of ramen noodles a night.