After almost a year of drooling over glowing reviews and desperately wanting to cave to the hype, I made it to Ramen Shop in Oakland. The College Avenue restaurant, run by three former Chez Panisse chefs, opened about this time last year and has been packed ever since. (We got there before 7 p.m. on a week night and were told there was a two-hour wait, but it only took about 30 minutes.) Though the concept of expensive, farm-to-table-like ramen might turn some off, it’s worth trying. The broths are amazingly different and flavorful without being overly rich (my problem with most ramen) and the noodles clearly made with care and quality. We tried two: shio ramen with green garlic, scallop tsukune, chashu, a shoyu-marinated egg, leeks and mizuna; veggie shoyu meyer lemon ramen with hedgehog mushrooms, salt-cured egg, roasted butternut squash, broccoli di ciccio and mizuna.
They also serve a few small plates/appetizers (the avocado citrus salad was a winner), cocktails and ice cream sandwiches for dessert to boot. All the details are beautiful too – a long wooden bar fronting the open kitchen; sauces, alcohol bottles and old records on display on shelves; beautiful cocktail (and even water) glasses; great music.
Not exactly an authentic ramen shop, but they know what they’re about and they do it well.
Ramen Shop // 5812 College Ave., Oakland