Oakland has the Ramen Shop, and now San Francisco has The Ramen Bar.
Michael Mina’s newest endeavor, approximately a block and a half from his eponymous flagship, is a genuine ballet of working parts. Built to handle the intense lunchtime rush — if this is how many people clamor for hot soup on an 80 degree day, a foggy afternoon might push it to bursting — the Ramen Bar is prompt, immaculate and stylish. And the Tokyo-style kurobuta pork ramen is great. It cured by recurring nightmares of waiting 2 hours and 45 minutes for ramen like some determined individuals did in Japantown at last weekend’s J-POP Festival. This line moves.
See Also: Would You Wait Two Hours For Ramen? These People Did.
Who Makes the Better Ramen: S.F.'s Ken Ken Ramen or Oakland's Ramen Shop?
[jump]It’s a great space, casual, with an open kitchen and shelves lined with cooking ingredients and six-packs. If there’s one drawback, it’s that the menu is small (Drawback 1a: it therefore also lacks a tonkotsu ramen.) But there are fringe benefits, including a fridge case with coffee jelly, yuzu bars, sake roll cake, and beer, plus Momokawa Junmai Ginjo on tap (for only $6). Early Yelp reviews, for what they’re worth, are all over the place, but that kurobuta pork ramen was unquestionably served hot, filled the belly, and needed only a little added heat to hit the palate just right. The pork could have been fattier but the broth was quite nice. At $14 with tax and tip, the cost was roughly at parity with what you’d expect elsewhere in the neighborhood.
Not for nothing, but al fresco dining in the Financial District can be awful. Cramped benches, unyielding concrete and. But the Ramen Bar has a dozen or so outdoor tables, and for overflow, the plaza in front of 101 California is nicely laid out and full of planters with actual flowers in them. Enjoy your new favorite lunch spot, FiDi’ers.
The Ramen Bar, 101 California, 668-7228.