805 S B St., San Mateo, CA 94401 | 650.401.6568
The very name Ramen Dojo makes me picture ramen chefs practicing martial arts flying around the kitchen ala TMNT. This restaurant occupies the old Santa Ramen location (same owners too) and specializes in ramen that is spicy and rich, which they call stamina ramen. Years ago when I lived in Japan, bowls of noodles classified as stamina noodles meant they included dense chewy cakes of pounded glutinous rice or mochi. What I could never figure out, is whether stamina ramen is supposed to give you extra energy or was it that it required extra stamina to finish the bowl? Whatever, there I was at the Dojo, ready for a rigorous ramen workout. Mr. K and I met Daisy and P there early for the first seating and there was still a line even after they opened the doors and seated the tables…
The basic varieties are Soy Bean (miso), Shoyu (soy sauce), or Garlic Pork Flavors, and you can request non-spicy or spicy (mild, regular or extra spicy) for $8.95. All ramen comes with 2 pieces of roasted pork, kikurage mushroom, fresh green chives, 1 quail egg, chicken gravy, spicy chili oil, shredded red pepper. You can get extra toppings like curry powder, corn, kimchi, green cabbage, or garlic roasted pork for an additional charge.
At first I thought the pile of fine red strands were shrimp antennae but it tasted vegetal. Our server said it is dried red peppers. The brilliant red color is a lovely accent and I was amazed at their delicate texture. This is the spicy miso ramen with extra napa cabbage.
The ramen here is not your standard bowl of noodles, the rich broth fills your mouth with velvety warm spicy heat, and it’s topped with a scoop of chicken gravy. Here is a closeup of the chicken gravy, which is a fragrant mixture of cooked ground chicken, shiitake mushrooms, and ginger. You can see the broth is a very rich pork broth, Tonkotsu style, the surface shimmers with a sheen of fat and is deeply satisfying. This is a seriously hearty bowl of soup, I know that I am going to crave this on a cold blustery day.
The garlic pork broth comes topped with several cloves of roasted garlic and I felt overwhelmed, like there was too much stuff going on in my bowl.
It was hard to focus and I had to take a deep breath to clear my mind and thought about the ramen master scene in Tampopo…
The noodles were of the thin and crinkly variety that held up very well to the robust spicy broth.
I ordered regular spicy which had my tastebuds all a jangle, lips a flame. If this is regular, I wondered if I could even handle mild spicy? I’m thinking I will order non-spicy next time. Good thing that the servers are very attentive and kept refilling my glass with refreshing ice water! Ahh-so…ka… and the final ranking? Foodhoe scores a novice level at the Ramen Dojo because she wants plain shoyu ramen, not spicy. I wiped my forehead with my gleaming white belt and accepted that I couldn’t finish my bowl… not enough stamina. On the table were shakers of dried chili peppers, which I only photographed as I am not a jedi warrior of the spicy hots.
The menu states, Our ramen is not vegetarian food. No, it is not. And after eating such a rich bowl of noodles we felt the need to walk around alot to clear our arteries, it was a good thing we so stuffed full of stamina. Ramen Dojo, ato de ne… see you soon, I’ll be back for more rigorous training.