Ramenventure 1: Coco’s Ramen!

I like to think of myself as a scientist. This makes sense, because I am in grad school to study science. More importantly though, it means I indiscriminately apply scientific methods to everyday things.

This upcoming series, aptly named Ramenventures, is an example of that life philosophy.

When I lived in Boston, I often took a rather random-walk-like approach to finding great food. That worked because I had 5 whole years to sort out where the great food was.

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Now I’m in the Bay Area, though, and I just want to know where all the great food is RIGHT NOW. Specifically, great ramen. In Boston, I was fortunate enough to stumble on an affordable apartment so close to 4 great ramen shops that I would often hurry to one or the other for a quick bowl on an especially chilly night.

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Now I live in the East Bay, where great ramen is more scarce (but soon won’t be), and traveling to a great ramen shop can be a trek. So, two friends and I, Betsy and Stephanie, took it upon ourselves to put in the hard work and effort to answer the age-old question: who has the best ramen in the Bay Area?

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At this point, we’ve been to places in East Bay, the city, and South Bay, and show no signs of stopping. We thoroughly research every renowned ramen shop using Yelp, best Bay Area ramen lists, and other food blogs. Then we carefully select each restaurant to pick, and try a large portion of their ramen menu every time. Future directions, of course, include returning to every place to ensure consistency and overall belly-warming yumminess in a larger sample size. Stay tuned; our publication this summer is going to be groundbreaking.

First up: Coco’s Ramen. One of the few places in the city of San Francisco with a rating >3.5 stars, and also located deep in the Mission. Coco’s Ramen during dinnertime is known for long waits, but (PRO TIP) is often half empty at lunch. We went on a Saturday afternoon, with full hearts, clear eyes, and empty stomachs. And yes, we did not lose.

To start, we ordered the kabocha, a rave-reviewed appetizer on Yelp. It consists of a fried pumpkin with a hard-boiled egg in the middle. I thought it was a great juxtaposition of textures, with the crunchy outside and soft pumpkin and egg interior. However, I did wish that it were served warm. Stephanie thought that “the pumpkin egg thing was definitely overrated and not as mind-blowing as [she] was expecting”.

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After that, we went straight to the main event: the ramen! Betsy had the vegetarian ramen, Stephanie had the shoyu ramen, and I had the tonkotsu ramen. I thought the broth in my ramen had a delicious umami flavor and wasn’t overly salty, though I didn’t find it to be spicy enough for my liking. The pork belly was amazingly tender, though, and the egg was cooked perfectly for mixing the yolk with the broth for maximum deliciousness.

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Top: Tonkotsu, Left: Veggie, Right: Shoyu

Steph: “My shoyu ramen was delightfully spicy without masking the flavor of the broth. The egg was cooked to perfection with a slightly runny yolk that was still firm enough to stay in place, and the noodles were a lovely al dente. The pork belly was also tender and flavorful, but not overwhelmingly fatty, which I appreciated.”

Betsy: “I would absolutely get ramen at Coco‘s again. The noodles (the part I care the most about) didn’t feel sad and watery, but were nice and firm. The vegetarian ramen also had a very generous helping of veggies, including corn kernels that were probably straight off the cob because they were so damn crunchy.”

Overall, we all really enjoyed Coco’s ramen. It was an excellent starting place for our Ramenventures, and set the bar very high for the rest of our ramen hunt. Our next ramenventure took us to South Bay, which I can’t wait to tell you about!

Ramen rating: 5/5 spoons from all of us!

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