I’ve always been picky about ramen. I grew up in San Mateo, which arguably houses some of the best ramen in the Bay Area. Coupled with my Japan trip last year, I take the dish seriously and often find myself disappointed with the selection in San Francisco. That is, until I ate at Mensho Tokyo.
Newly opened as of Saturday, I had the opportunity to preview the restaurant a day early and try some of their unique ramen offerings. Coming straight from Japan, this is chef-owner Tomoharu Shono’s first American outpost – smack in the Tenderloin (and conveniently next to Rye bar so you can grab a couple drinks as you wait for the soon-to-begin long lines).
The menu is how I wish all ramen places would be – just ramen. It’s focused, it’s creative, and oh man, it is DELICIOUS.
There is the familiar versions I love eating, like tonkotsu, and then there are the unique versions. Tori paitan ramen is made with chicken broth, cooked so it’s almost a gravy draped over the chewy, twisted noodles. Shoyu ramen comes with a clear broth and wonderfully heavy nori flavor that pairs well with the flat, almost fettuccine-type noodles it comes with.
But my favorite was crazily enough, the VEGAN ramen. Made with soy cream (a product that is made similarly to coconut cream) and peanut butter, the broth is loud and packs heat. The ramen also comes with more toppings than I could count, making every bite full of everything and easy to slurp to the last drop.
Part of what sets Mensho Tokyo apart from other ramen restaurants is its meticulousness with ingredients. In addition to perfecting the vegan broth, Chef Shono plans on using siphons (similar to what you see at Blue Bottle) to make fresh dashi. He also makes his own bonito, which he demoed for us in a process I’d never seen before even while in Japan!
It’s the attention to detail that makes this ramen some of the best I’ve eaten in San Francisco. Lines are bound to be long, but the wait is unequivocally going to be worth it – especially once it begins to stay open late until 2am. And at that time on a Saturday night, you’ll know where to find me.
672 Geary Street
Open 6pm – Midnight (soon to be 2am)