I have been craving ramen for eight months to be precise, since I moved back to London. Koya was a valiant attempt to get my fix, but ultimately it wasn’t the same. So when I knew I was getting sent to LA for training, I started scouring California-based food blogs plotting my way around the best ramen joints in town.
It was with some disappointment that I figured out that the West Coast ramen scene wasn’t quite as developed as New York. Nonetheless, I was looking forward to Ramen Santouka in West LA whose shio ramen I would have every other week when I lived in New York as well as Ramen HALU in San Jose run by a surf fanatic chef who seemed equally obsessed about making good ramen.
Unfortunately some unforeseen circumstances saw me cut my California trip short, and hence no ramen for me. Boo!
But luck would have it, there was a random Japanese restaurant at SFO’s International Terminal which also seemed to be the busiest eatery there. The fact that it is run by Cantonese-speakers aside, they had ramen on the menu! The thought that I wouldn’t leave California without getting my ramen fix after all brought a big smile to my face.
When it arrived, it was possibly one of the best meals I have had in recent times. Ippudo it was not, Ramen Santouka it was not. But it came with a milky and tasty broth, tender stewed pork slices and decently-cooked noodles (with less bite than the noodles you would get at Ippudo). It hit exactly the spot.
So whilst I had hoped to bring you reports from the best ramen joints in California, instead I would like to give you a handy tip next time you’re travelling out of SFO, and especially if you’re travelling on a long haul flight on an US airline (which is as bad, if not worse, as all the reports state). Get there early and treat yourself to a bowl of ramen.
And if you are also as greedy as I am, then get a takeaway rice bowl for the flight. I have 8 hours more left on this flight back to London and I am already looking forward to opening up my takeaway gyu don.