Ramen has come up on the culinary scene more and more lately, and worldly food-loving San Franciscans couldn't be more happy about it. Don't believe me? Check out expert ramen aficionado Luis Chong's Ramen Week right here on SFoodie. We're cultured and we're starving, OK? Give us the damn ramen.
Everyone is so stoked about the plethora of restaurants/pop-ups/food trucks/back yards/basements/dumpsters/etc to get all sorts of different types of ramen -- everyone, that is, except us vegetarians and vegans. Luckily, lots of ramen eateries are starting to bring it with the veg selections, finding that even the most die-hard meat-mouths often don't want to consume a whole piglet with their noodles. One of the places doing it best is Ken Ken Ramen.
The vegan ramen at the sorta pop-up/sorta restaurant is filled with umami goodness. Yes, goodness is a terrible word, and I'm often using it incorrectly, but I think, in this moment, it's the perfect descriptor.
The ramen comes to the table piping hot and overflowing with all sorts of (yes) goodness, including colorful veggies on top. In my first bite, I tasted bean sprouts, baby corn, and kabocha squash. It was divine.
The sweet starchiness of the kabocha worked in delicious tandem with the crunchiness of the bean sprouts and baby corn to deliver a tasty punch. The veggies were great but not abundant enough. That's my one complaint: I definitely wanted more of them. That's not such a big deal when the miso broth is so flavorful and the ramen noodles chewy and toothsome. It's something even omnis must bow down to, even if the only reason they're doing so is to get closer to the bowl.
If you're looking for excellent Japanese-style ramen, Ken Ken is definitely worth checking out. The ambiance is exciting -- with warm colors, dimmed lighting, and waiters running about with hot sake and large beers. Just make sure to come early or be prepared to wait, which is no biggie since the Boba Guys are often there dishing up their amazing creations. Ramen and boba for all!