Katana-ya: Ramen for a rainy winter day

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Recently I’ve been akin to a noodle soup fiend, eating bowls of pho and other noodle soups meal after meal. (It may have begun after my trip to Momofuku.) I first heard of Katana-Ya from my friend Steph, whose passion for ramen is so great that she once traveled to six Bay Area ramen noodlehouses in the same day. (Read about her adventures and see more of her photos here.)

While Katana-ya is located in Union Square, one of the busiest areas of San Francisco, it’s a hidden refuge from the hustle and bustle of holiday shopping. The shop is so tiny that I’ve passed it many times and never noticed it.

The most popular ramen on the menu is the BBQ pork ramen. Any ramen has a choice of three different styles of broth (light and rich), as well as three flavors (soy, miso and salt). My “rich” broth arrived with a slick coating of oil, but I wasn’t too concerned: Earlier, I’d asked my Japanese partner in crime, Fumiko, what made tasty ramen. “Lots of fat,” she immediately replied. Next time, I’ll try the light broth, as I’ve only had the pleasure of savoring the rich.

The pork was flavorful, tender, marbled with the right amount of fat yet not too heavy. I prefer the miso broth to the soy, which had an incredibly bizarre aroma similar to the smell of rhinos at the zoo. I know that that sounds ludicrous, but honestly, I’ve read similar reviews (note the first review on this page). The noodles also have just the right amount of “QQ,” as the Chinese call it, or glutinous bounce. The second time, however, I ordered takeout, and the noodles had become overcooked. In the future, I plan to order the noodles”extra hard” so that they are perfectly cooked when I’m ready to eat them.

Overall, eating here was a delight (despite the strange flavor profile of the soy base). I can’t wait to try their other dishes.

Katana-Ya, 430 Geary, San Francisco, Calif. 415.771.1280

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4 Responses to “Katana-ya: Ramen for a rainy winter day”

  1. Ooooh yes, one of my favorite foods! I do love Katana-ya’s noodles, especially ordered a little undercooked. Have you been to Santa Ramen in San Mateo? It’s my favorite, with Katana-ya at a very close second.

    I’ve taken to buying packaged ramen (w/ fresh noodles) because you just can’t find ramen shops around Minnesota. But nothing beats the real thing 🙂

  2. Santa Ramen is also at the top of my list!

  3. […] Showdown: NY v. SF Who has better ramen: New York or San Francisco? My recent fixation with ramen brought about a bicoastal trek in search for the answer.First Stop: ManhattanIn the East Village, […]

  4. […] is with tourists and business travelers, it’s home to some restaurants that are dear to me: Katana-ya, Town Hall, Bong Su, even — dare I say it — the Rotunda at Neiman […]

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