Orenchi Beyond opened late last year bringing their elegantly restrained bowls of rich Tonkotsu ramen to the City. The owner Kuniko Ozawa decided to stretch her empire beyond the South Bay where she has a few other restaurants including Sumika Grill in Los Altos, and Iroriya for robata dining in Santa Clara. I had heard about the long lines at the original and super popular Orenchi in Santa Clara and am so glad that I don’t have to make the long drive to sample their excellent noodles. The new shop is on the north end of Valencia, close to Market Street but easy walking from the 16th Street Bart station. I met my friend Jaytee there well before they opened and we put our names on the waiting list, then wandered around this amazing vintage collection store that was named appropriately Stuff, because they had so much stuff! At 6 pm, we returned and were seated right away, even though our friends Daisy and P were still on the way.
The decor is quite modern and the enclosed kitchen glows from within like a stadium. It is topped with two big vents, perhaps to suck out all of the heat generated by the steaming vats of noodles and broth cooking?
The chefs did not appear to mind cooking in a fishbowl.
I admired the awesome handprinted tabletops that flowed throughout the room. The level of detail in the scales and artistic calligraphy was lovely.
There are a ton of non-ramen dishes on the menu to tempt you with. If you are looking forward to a bowl of ramen, you might not want to order too many appetizers, because I admit that I was kind of full by the time my noodles arrived…
The Ankimo Ponzu (Monkfish liver) $7 was a generous portion with thick slices of steamed liver that were topped with grated daikon mixed with spicy pepper sauce (momiji oroshi), and served over a mound of paper thin slices of fennel tossed with ponzu sauce, which is an acidic mixture of soy sauce with citrus or vinegar. Each bite filled my mouth with a sensation of buttery richness that was made brilliant with the tart savory ponzu and fresh vegetal crunch of fennel.
Spicy fries ($5.3) were lightly crispy and coated with a melange of addictive spices and served with wasabi mayo
The Karaage, marinated fried chicken (6 pcs) $7.8 was tender and flavorful, with an excellent crunchy fried batter coating. Inside, the flesh wasn’t as juicy or garlicky as that of Aburaya in Oakland…
Tebasaki Owariage Fried Chicken Wings $7.3 (6 pcs), were good snacks that are perfectly suited to enjoy with an ice cold and refreshing beer.
According to the website, the Orenchi soup is made with organic chicken, Canadian black pork and filtered water and is cooked for a minimum of 18 ours before it is served.
I ordered the Beyond Ramen ($12), which is only available at the SF location. It is a rich, garlicky tonkotsu-based broth topped with fried garlic, peppery mizuna greens, thin slices of pork belly, green onion, pickled bamboo shoot, sesame, and a sheet of toasted seaweed. You can order additional toppings like a soft boiled seasoned egg, but there is an ample supply of stuff on top.
Here are the noodles which were springy and firm. The broth is flavorful without being overpowering or too salty and has a rich silky texture. It looks like black garlic oil floating on top, which was very aromatic and made each sip. The ramen of my youth was nothing like this!
The Orenchi Ramen ($12) is also a tonkotsu based soup topped with slices of pork belly, a soft boiled seasoned egg, green onion, bamboo shoot, mushroom, sesame, dried seaweed. The clean flavors of the broth was more apparent in this version which was simpler so you can enjoy the ramen with less distraction, although everyone seemed to prefer the Beyond version.
I hope that the owner decides to offer the highly regarded Tsukemen, which have been limited to 15 bowls per night at the original location. I would definitely stand in line for that! Orenchi Beyond brings an exceptional bowl of noodles for ramen devotees to the Mission. Amen for that.
a couple of masks that hang on the wall on the way to the loo…