South Bay is widely touted as the ramen hotspot in the Bay Area, despite the heavy-hitters that are settling in the city and the East Bay this year. The options for top-notch ramen are nearly endless: Orenchi, Maru Ichi, Ramen Parlor, and Ramen Dojo come quickly to my mind (and to the top of Yelp).
We decided to focus on Ramen Parlor and Ramen Dojo, which are both owned by chef Kazunori Kobayashi, a veritable noodle king in San Mateo. Ramen Dojo, the older sibling, offers more classical options, like miso and soy sauce ramen. On the other hand, Ramen Parlor is the wild child, offering garlic lobster and pork tan tan men broths that tempted our more adventurous side.
We chose to make a gametime decision on which ramen shop to try when we arrived for lunch. This was especially easy to do, as the two shops are LITERALLY around the corner from each other. As luck would have it, the wait at Ramen Dojo was twice as long as the wait at Ramen Parlor. With the minutes on our Zipcar reservation ticking towards zero, we wisely chose Ramen Parlor and were not disappointed.
Betsy had the Lobster Miso ramen (above) and gave it the following review:
“I was very happy with my food at Ramen Parlor, and it gets bonus points for introducing me to my new best friend softshell crab! The broth was delicious but I didn’t think it was very strongly lobster flavored, and the noodles were just not as mind-blowingly satisfying as Coco’s.”
Steph had the Garlic Pork ramen, and had only good things to say about her noodles:
“My ramen had a perfect noodle to broth ratio. The egg was cooked to a lovely consistency and the quail egg (that I got to try from Betsy’s lobster broth ramen) added an extra snap to the meal. I also preferred the pork’s high meat content over other types of pork that have more fat.”
I had the Lobster Garlic Pork ramen, which was rave-reviewed on Yelp. I was excited to have both surf *and* turf in my bowl, and also to try quail eggs for the first time. Everything was great, and the lobster oil flavor in the broth kept things interesting. Still, I found myself yearning for the comfort of a spicy tonkotsu broth by the end of the meal.
Overall, we all had a great experience trying the wilder flavors at Ramen Parlor. Stephanie rated her ramen 5/5 spoons; Betsy and I both gave it 4/5 spoons.
Final rating: 4.33…/5 spoons!