While the city's ramen culture is just beginning to flourish, San Mateo's ramen scene is leaping ahead with a modern variant of ramen.
One-month old Ramen Parlor is the latest ramen venture from chef-owner Kazunori Kobayashi, whose San Mateo ramen empire includes the legendary Santa Ramen (at 1944 South El Camino Real), which features traditional ramen styles (soy sauce, miso, and tonkotsu), and the 2010 sensation Ramen Dojo (at 805 South B Street), the Bay Area's first and only “stamina ramen” shop (a derivation of Taiwan Ramen from Nagoya, this style became popular throughout Japan during the 80s).
Ramen Parlor's new seafood-style modern ramen follows the latest trend in Japan, in which flavors are layered to create richer, more complex broths. The leader of this style of ramen is Tokyo-based chef Keisuke Takeda, who uses his French culinary training for his consommé style prawn-based stock. In the US, another example of this trend is Hawaiian chef D.K. Kodama's Dungeness crab ramen with a truffled butter pork-based broth.
Kobayashi pairs robust versions of his standard broths ($9.50, choice of soy sauce, miso, or tonkotsu) with a layer of lobster oil. Each bowl contains two slices of pork belly chasu, bacon bits, chopped white onions, broccolini, green chives, kikurage, sliced shiitake mushrooms, crushed spices for accent (red pepper plus seaweed, sesame or chili powder), and topped with a single garlic shrimp on the shell.
You can add extra toppings ($1-$4.50) to your ramen bowl and/or extra noodles for $1.50; customers concerned about ramen saltiness often chose to add corn ($1). We liked our bowl as is.