The ramen roundup: 10 spots around San Diego to dig into a savory bowl of Japanese noodles
If you favor the flavor of tonkotsu (pork), shoyu (soy sauce), shio (salt) or miso (fermented bean paste) ramen, there’s a place for your taste around town
Noodle houses became popular in San Diego several years ago. Guess what? The trend hasn’t died down. New ramen restaurants abound. Mini chains are expanding. If you favor the flavor of tonkotsu (pork), shoyu (soy sauce), shio (salt) or miso (fermented bean paste) ramen, there’s a place for your taste around town.
Artisan Noodle Tatsuki
Housed on the former downtown site of Ramen Yamadaya, the brand-new Artisan Noodle Tatsuki didn’t make significant décor changes. There’s an underground ambiance — with dark wood interiors and an in-your-face open kitchen. But the chef has some cred: Los Angeles ramen chef Daiki Tanaka spent five years at L.A.’s renowned ramen restaurant Tsujita. The menu features traditional tonkotsu ramen, made with a pork broth that stews for 60 hours, and red miso ramen, which varies in spiciness. 531 Broadway, open for lunch and dinner
BESHOCK Ramen & Sake Bar
There’s a wide-ranging menu, full bar and an extensive line of sakes (one owner is a certified Sake Master). The ramen offerings include pork, chicken and creamy vegan bowls. Be forewarned about the liquid lava that is the Tantan Ramen. It’s pork broth with sesame spicy chile base, spicy ground pork, bok choy, leek and chili strings. Have a full glass of water on hand. 1288 Market St., lunch and dinner, new location coming to Carlsbad
Sit at a table and enjoy the sights and smells of Hachi Ramen — but take-out is common at this fast-casual spot. Nontraditional ramen options include duck (with foie gras oil); cheezu (featuring American cheese or brie); and a toss-it-all-in Hachi Black (pork belly, roasted duck, steamy bird dumplings, chicken breast and a soft-boiled egg). 2505 Fifth Ave., lunch and dinner
HiroNori Craft Ramen
HiroNori is hitting it out of the park in a Hillcrest location that’s turned over several times in recent years. The tonkotsu and vegan bowls are transcendent. So, too, is the shoyu ramen, using soy sauce that’s barrel-aged for two years. 3803 Fifth Ave., lunch and dinner
Menya Ultra Ramen
Ramen Master Takashi Endo has 13 restaurants around the globe. This spot, in the Mira Mesa Shopping Center, offers a best-seller from Japan — negi miso ramen highlighted by miso pork broth. 8141 Mira Mesa Blvd., lunch and dinner, other location in Kearny Mesa
This Hillcrest location continues the tradition of serving colorful, artistically plated menu items. Meat lovers will enjoy the Ring of Chashu Ramen (featuring six to eight slices of pork belly); and the Carnivore’s Dream (heaped with beef rib chashu, pork belly and chicken). 1040 University Ave., lunch and dinner, other location in Convoy
RakiRaki Ramen & Tsukemen
It’s fast-casual here. Go basic and add chicken. Or, opt for the BBQ chashu pork “black edition” with fermented organic garlic oil. 2254 India St., lunch and dinner, other locations in Convoy and Liberty Station
Come early to avoid a lunchtime wait at this indoor/outdoor eatery. A half dozen craft beers are on tap. Ramen comes in creamy chicken and spicy sesame versions—but this is a good place to go vegan. Tajima’s vegetable soy-based soup comes with spinach noodles and mixed veggies (baby spinach, corn, baby bok choy, cherry tomatoes). 901 E Street, lunch and dinner, other locations in Convoy, Hillcrest and North Park
The Whet Noodle
Owner/chef, Davin Waite is a zero-food-waste advocate. He takes the fish leftovers from his adjacent sushi restaurant, Wrench & Rodent Seabasstropub, and uses them to make a fish broth for ramen. Unorthodox? Yes, delightfully so. A duck broth and a specialty vegan option are highlights. 1813 South Coast Highway, dinner only
Underbelly helped expand Little Italy’s dining geography from India Street to Kettner Boulevard. Dine at the bar or utilize the unique indoor/outdoor seating configuration. Go big with the Belly of the Beast ramen bowl — with soft-boiled egg, oxtail dumplings, smoked brisket and a hoisin-glazed short rib. 750 W. Fir St., lunch and dinner, other location in North Park
Donoho is a freelance writer.
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