Mensho Oakland [Oakland, Piedmont Avenue]

Ramen shop Mensho of SF (and Tokyo) opened a location on Piedmont Ave. in Oakland earlier in 2023, and it’s a winner. It’s in the former Little Shin Shin space, and looks very different from that neighborhood Chinese restaurant that it replaced. I went here for dinner on a Tuesday. The restaurant was fairly full but with some open seats - unlike Mensho in SF I didn’t have to wait in a long line. Some more info from SFGate:

I started with the Aji Fry ($10)
Fried aji (Japanese horse mackerel). This popular menu item has been loved in Japan for a long time. Enjoy with tangy sauce and mustard.

This was very nice. The aji was nice and moist and meaty and nicely fried with a light crispy breading. It came with a sweet dark sauce and a dab of some strong hot mustard. And also a fried shishito and lemon wedge as garnish.

And then I got the MIX NIGIRI SUSHI (4pcs) ($24)
Uni, Ikura, Crab, Hotate one piece each.

Wow this was great. It was a sampler of the four nigiri on offer. From left to right - first a hotate / scallop nigiri with a fat sweet scallop, and then three nigiri topped with buttery raw A5 wagyu beef from Japan and various seafood - uni, ikura, and a very sweet snow crab. I think I liked the uni one the best - uni and beef make a great surf and turf combination. Some of the toppings had fallen off the top of the wagyu nigiri, but what they lacked in structural integrity they more than made up for in deliciousness. I used a piece of ginger as a brush to apply some soy sauce to them.

For the main course I had a bowl of ramen - the Signature Smoked Toripaitan ($24)
Rich and creamy chicken soup w/shio koji, dashi soup (kombu, shiitake, porcini mushrooms and vegetables), pork chashu tare, smoked ajitama egg, smoked pork chashu, smoked A5 wagyu chashu, smoked duck chashu, king oyster mushroom menma, og truffle sauce, green onion, enoki chips, charcoal negi, house-made mochi wheat noodles.

Delicious! The chicken toripaitan broth was creamy and thick and umami rich. Toripaitan is like the chicken version of tonkotsu. The “smoked” part of the dish I think came from the various smoked components - e.g. the thinly sliced smoked pork, beef and duck chashus, and the perfectly smoked egg. There was a very good texture to the medium thick noodles, which had some good chew I think provided by the mochi in them. A little dab of black truffle sauce added some extra fragrant oomph as well. Another enjoyable component were the bouncy “menma” which usually refers to bamboo shoots but here were approximated with king oyster mushroom. There were also some fried enoki mushrooms for crunch, and some spinach for vegetables I guess. This was a great bowl of ramen, at the same high quality level as what I’ve had at their SF shop.

There’s also some local beer on the menu along with sake and soft drinks. I had a pint of Fieldwork Pulp IPA ($9) to drink.


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