7x7 Magazine published an article on how Hapa SF ramen Chef Richie Nakano sampled ramen broths from SF to NY before opening his successful ramen stand at the Ferry Building. The article was entitled 'The Path to Ramen Enlightenment.'
For ramen newbies more familiar with "cup-O-noodles," the article was educational and eye-opening. But lost in the city-centric article was Silicon Valley's rightful place on the ramen map. Indeed, while SF surpasses the Peninsula and South Bay on several fronts, no ramen path is complete without hitting all the top-notch Silicon Valley ramen institutions that even city dwellers make the drive out of town.
It all started about a decade ago with the iconic Santa Ramen located in San Mateo that Chef Nakano did sample. Famous for their decadent stewed pork, the tiny location soon had engineers and computer programmers lined out the door, often before the place even opened and on weekdays. Many considerate it the first great ramen spot in Northern California and the flavorful broth was a winner. Santa soon expanded to a larger location (where some traditionalists say quality took a hit) and branched out further to Ramen Dojo (specializing in spicy ramen) and Ramen Parlour (specializing in lobster oil broth), expanding their San Mateo ramen empire.
Most foodies feel the current top spot belongs to Orenchi Ramen in Santa Clara. A sister restaurant to the excellent Sumika Grill, Orenchi specializes in tonkotosu pork broth, perfectly cooked soft boiled eggs, and melt in your mouth chasu. A must-visit for any ramen aficionado.
For a more casual setting, Santouka Ramen, located in San Jose, is another popular choice. The popular Japanese chain has several locations in Los Angeles and is almost always affiliated with Mitsuwa Supermarket as this one is. Don't let the supermarket decor deter you, the broth is excellent and they sell out of their special toriniku pork daily, usually after lunch.
Numerous other Silicon Valley ramen choices include Ramen Halu in San Jose (ranked #1 by SJ Mercury News), Misoya in Santa Clara (that opened simultaneously in NYC), Maru Ichi in Milpitas and Mountain View, Kahoo in San Jose, and Ringer Hut (from Japan) in San Jose.
My Ramen Rankings:
(last updated November 2014)
1) Orenchi - Tonkotsu Ramen with soft boiled egg
2) Santouka - Shio/Miso Ramen with toriniku pork
3) Ramen Izakaya Kagura - Special Tonkotsu Dipping Noodles or Hakata style Tonkotsu Ramen
4) Ramen Seas - Asari Ramen
5) Kotetsu Ramen - Kotetsu Ramen
6) Shalala - Shio Ramen
7) Misoya - Kome-miso Ramen with Cha-su
8) Ramen Taka - Chashu Hakata Ramen
9) Dohatsuten - Shio Ramen (mild and less salty)
10) Ramen Dojo - Spicy Pork Ramen
12) Ramen Tenma - Okinawan Soba
13) Santa - Tonkotsu Ramen with Stewed Pork
14) Ramen Halu - Halu Ramen
15) Kahoo - Kotteri Ramen (spicy)
16) Shin Shin Men Men - Tonkotsu Ramen
17) Ryowa - Butter Corn Ramen
18) Katana Ya - Butter Corn Ramen
19) Maru Ichi - Kuro Ramen
20) Ramen Parlor - Garlic Lobster Pork Flavor Parlor Ramen
21) Kansui Ramen - Spicy Miso Ramen with Mandu
22) Nijiya Market - Chashu Ramen