[San Francisco, Hayes Valley] Nojo Ramen Tavern

Went to Nojo in Hayes Valley for a bowl of ramen after a Saturday afternoon show at the SFJAZZ Center, which is on the same block. Was very crowded even at around 5:30 on Saturday, and the line was even bigger when I left.

I had the Chicken Paitan Soy Sauce ramen ($18.50), which has a whole chicken leg, half a soft boiled egg, black garlic oil, lots of scallions and garlic chives, and a little mound of chopped red onion. Also had some fried gobo (burdock root).

It was really good. The broth was milky white with a layer of the black garlic oil on top, and very thick with collagen. Sticks to your lips. It had the flavor of salty roasted chicken mixed with something like a tonkotsu broth. The chicken was fall apart tender and still had the skin on, which was coated with whatever sauce they marinaded it with. The generous amounts of scallion, chives, and crunchy red onion and fried burdock strips kept the broth from dominating everything. Noodles were good and chewy. Egg was properly runny.


Thanks for the review! But yikes, is high teens now the new normal for ramen ? For a while I thought its only Ramen Shop that is doing this price range. I heard the new Hinodeya is doing also a chicken paitan. I looked up their menu. $18!!!

Yeah I thought it was a bit on the expensive side as well. I feel it was worth the price though. They do have a regular chicken paitan ramen for slightly less at $15.

I usually get the chicken nanban and the spicy gobo ramen there. But I ask them to hold the chopped egg tartar sauce on the nanban, after one occasion where it did not agree with my stomach…

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What is the difference between the regular chicken paitan versus the more expensive version?

I haven’t tried it but it has chicken meatballs rather than a chicken leg and different vegetable toppings.

Richie Nakano, God’s gift to ramen, had a $28 duck ramen at Hapa Ramen (and he wonders why his silent partner ditched him).

Ramen is generally overpriced, IMHO, compared to Chinese and SE Asia noodle soup options, but why not charge what the market will bear?

what we need now is a soup dumpling with ramen (and broth) inside… then you can charge for both ramen and soup dumplings

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My kids would be ecstatic that they can get dumpling and noodle in the same piece of food

Some Chinese restaurants, including the new Village House on Balboa have combination dumpling (not wonton) noodle soups.

In Japan, you can get a Michelin-starred ramen for US $6.99.

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Interestingly when Tsuta shows up in Singapore, their ramen price becomes $10.5.

The '‘outside of Japan ramen tax’?

I tried a few more dishes recently at Nojo.

Chicken Nanban ($9)
The chicken in this dish was excellent - tender and juicy with a thin crispy crust that remained crispy even soaked in the reddish slightly sweet sauce. Nice tartar sauce topping with chopped egg that maybe was a little on the watery side. It came with a simple lettuce salad with a vinaigrette like dressing. Kind of a big dish to accompany a bowl of ramen solo, would probably be good for sharing.

Chicken Paitan Tan-Tan Spicy Miso ($17) added a soft boiled dashi egg (+$1.50)
This was pretty good. Spicy. Good textured noodles. It came with two spoons, one with some holes in it, I guess to get at some of the ground chicken topping. Broth was thick and nicely flavored, not super complex though. Nice crispy fried gobo.

Egg was served on the side.

Chicken Paitan ($15)
I liked this better than the Tan-Tan. Not the best photo of it, sorry. It had some slightly crunchy large bamboo shoots. Topped with a bundle of grated ginger. I wasn’t sure what to do with that so I just mixed it in the soup. Had spring onion and some peppery daikon sprouts. The broth was thick, white and chicken-y, less chalky than the one at Mensho Ramen in the Tenderloin. I think I actually liked this broth better than the one at Mensho. Topped with chicken meatballs which were excellent. Described as “fluffy tsukune meatballs” they were indeed fluffy, and tender. Made with ground chicken, with slightly crispy brown bits on the outside.

Nikumaki Rice Ball ($4.50) with Spicy Garlic Chili and Cheese (+$1.50)
A rice ball wrapped in pork belly. A nice side dish with a slightly crispy pork belly exterior. Kind of expensive.


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Is that like a different take on the Sichuan version?

I believe it is the Japanese interpretation of dandanmian. I think the main similarities are that it is spicy, has noodles, and has ground meat.

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Honghe Hani Rice Terraces, Yuanyang County, Yunnan
Credit: inkelv1122, Flickr