Suzu Noodle House: Ramen in Japantown
Suzu Noodle House
1825 Post St (inside the J-town building)
(between Fillmore St & Webster St)
After four hours, two glasses of warm water, and one hour “researching” on Yelp, I am still thinking about ramen. Suzu, what have you done to me? I finally went after Sarah had mentioned this place countless times as being a close, reliable place for some cozy hot broth and ramen noodles. Yes, many diehard Yelpers know about it, and it is quite controversial, depending if you know your ramen or not. I currently do not, and probably never will know what true homemade ramen noodle soup should taste like. But I’ve learned a few things:
- It’s all about the broth, which should be made the old school way. That is, no shortcuts, and a lot of time cooking it.
- Legit noodle houses can thus only focus on ramen (versus serving ramen and other Japanese “greatest hits” like sushi).
- That broth is supposed to be salty and greasy.
- Noodle should be handmade. Using an insta-pack is insulting to those-in-the-know but owners try to get away with this because most of us don’t know. “Ra-men” is actually a Japanese-ification of the Chinese words for “handpulled noodles”. (I can hear my mother now, proclaiming how Marco Polo stole the idea for spaghetti from the Chinese…)
- North of Burlingame, there just aren’t many 5-star options around.
I ordered the “Mabo Ramen” which oddly isn’t on their takeout menu. But it comes with ground pork, green onions, and the mabo sauce that I usually know as “mapo” which goes on a Chinese Mapo Tofu dish.
So the pros for Suzu Noodle House:
- Close to my ‘hood
- Fast service (lots of waitresses refilling sipped tea and water cups)
- Big a** bowl of broth, and enough fat, salt, and noodles to put this usual carb-avoider into a blissful food coma. (If this grossed you out, consider this the Asian equivalent of a huge serving of freshly baked bread, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, oh, and some fresh butter to boot).
Semi-Cons: (Half of a full Con, so really this amounts to two Cons)
- Less-than-expected portions of the meat and tofu. However, I got stuffed with the noodles, so my greedy stomach only noticed this about 90 minutes after my excursion when I was hankering for some more protein.
- MSG. So I’ve had to have warm water since being stuffed with broth and egg noodles because I still have a mild MSG aftertaste. Or is it salt? Or is MSG some form of salt? Anyway, the MSG buzz has lingered for quite a while. I’m not sure if any other ramen noodle house can help me there, though.
- $7.95 o $8.95 for minimal meat and fixin’s. Granted, this is better than boiling up your own Top Ramen styrofoam concoction. I have also heard that this is about right for ramen prices in the city. But I’m wishing that dough and water was a little cheaper.
- Non-Japanese owners. I can’t confirm this but that’s the word on the street. Sort of disappointing only because I wonder if I could taste the difference if the food were cooked by more authentic hands. But then again, many Chinese restaurant owners open Japanese or Korean restaurants because the grub-patrons expect Chinese food to be so cheap. They can’t compete on those margins!
Overall, a positive first experience that has me keen on evaluating some other noodle shops to compare prices, tastes, and MSG levels. Stay tuned.