Ramen Dojo – Japanese Spicy Noodle House in San Mateo

by foodhoe on October 7, 2010

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.

Ramen Dojo on Urbanspoon

{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

Rosa October 7, 2010 at 9:06 am

Very rich indeed and surely very comforting!




Cookie October 7, 2010 at 12:37 pm

I love spicy ramen especially when it’s chilly outside! It totally warms you inside and out!


Michelle October 7, 2010 at 11:35 pm

Yaye! And the perfect cold weather is starting for a hot bowl of noodles


rowena October 8, 2010 at 2:59 am

How very interesting on the chili strings/threads. I had seen that on an online spice merchant in Germany but wasn’t sure how in the world you’d use it. Seeing your pics…well duh! I should’ve thought of that!

It’s cold and gray right now, but all this just made the thermostat jump up a bit!


Single Guy Ben October 8, 2010 at 10:31 am

Oooh, I’ve heard about this place and have been tempted to go there the next time I have my hands on a car, but now reading you’re review I feel scared for my cholesterol! 🙂 The broth sounds really fatty, and I’m not too much of a fan of the super rich broth. Do you think I would like it or will my arteries harden while I’m sitting there?


hungry dog October 8, 2010 at 3:23 pm

I need to check this out. I went to Santa ramen once, awhile back. I don’t like the idea of spicy ramen though…I like mild ramen. Full of porky goodness.


Gastronomer October 11, 2010 at 12:30 pm

Your post has put me in a ramen mood! Sure, it’s almost 90 degrees here, but dang… It cannot be helped. Extra chicken gravy? PLEASE!


ila October 11, 2010 at 10:20 pm

ohgawd. that looks SO good!!! i’m going home for thanksgiving, so i’ll be sure to give this a try!!!


Jeanette October 12, 2010 at 6:59 pm

There’s nothing like a hot bowl of ramen noodles. On vacation this summer, had the chance to go to a ramen noodle house like this one. Wish we had one near me!


foodhoe October 19, 2010 at 7:02 pm

Rosa, you can’t get much richer…
Cookie, I’m new to the spicy and can’t wait for the cold weather!
Michelle, I found your blog looking for Ramen dojo’s website! I’m glad I did and that the cold weather is kicking in too.
Rowena, wow, I haven’t been looking at spice catalogs recently, I was thinking those uberfine strands looked outrageously perfect and would love to have that as a garnish at home!
single guy, I’m not sure whether all of the versions are so rich, I will have to conduct further research and let you know!
Hungry dog, that was very full porky, gotta check out if they have non spicy for sure… you know I will post about it one day!
gastronomer, good thing you ar a runner girl! extra gravy indeed!
ila, ooh lucky you!
Jeanette, thanks for visiting, me too but this is just over the bridge and a short 20 minute drive on the weekend.


Cali October 19, 2010 at 7:59 pm

In reading about the spicy overload and reviewing the menu board photo, I think the “regular spicy” is meant to be hotter than the “mild spicy.” The way they have it divided up there is spicy or non. On the spicy side there is only mild, regular and hot. Therefore, regular spicy would be hotter than mild spicy, would it not?

Sounds like great ramen, and were I not sweating at the moment, I’d really be craving some. But gimme a couple of weeks for the seasonal change to fully happen and I’ll be slurpin’ right along side!


consumableJoy October 22, 2010 at 9:33 am

oh my god… now i am totally dying to try some, and we seemed to have turned the corner into early winter…


Jun Belen November 4, 2010 at 10:48 am

I have been hearing many great things about Ramen Dojo and have been wanting to try. Thank you for the reminder!


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