Japan based ramen chain Ippudo opened up it’s first location in SF recently, on Yerba Buena Lane just off Market street, next to Press Club. This is their second location in the Bay Area along with a location in Berkeley. I’ve been to one of the Manhattan Ippudo locations once before but it was too long to ago to really remember how it tasted. I remember that I liked it. I went to Ippudo SF for a bowl of ramen late on a Sunday night about an hour before closing. You put your name down with the host and wait to be called. The line wasn’t very long when I went, and I was able get a seat within about 15 minutes. There’s a standing bar in the front of the restaurant where you can get a drink while waiting.
I ordered the shiromaru special ramen ($18), which has their classic tonkotsu broth and comes with crunchy kikurage mushrooms, scallions, boiled seasoned egg, extra chashu, and a few pieces of nori. For comparison, their basic “classic” shiromaru bowl ($14) omits the extra chashu, nori (kind of cheap to not include a few pieces of seaweed in the basic bowl), and egg. I also added menma for an extra $3.
The creamy white broth tasted pretty good, porky and rich but perhaps a little one note. Maybe I should have gotten the “akamaru modern” bowl which adds garlic oil and a spicy miso paste. If you are hungry I recommend getting the special because the chashu slices, while tasty, were quite thin. The “seasoned egg” didn’t appear to be very seasoned unfortunately. It lacked the brownish color of a soy sauce marinated egg and tasted like a regular soft boiled egg. Maybe they ran out of the marinated ones? At least the yolk was still somewhat runny. My menma add-on came on the side and was sprinkled with scallions. It was crunchy and a good portion, though it probably should be for the extra $3.
They have 4 firmness levels (soft to very firm) to choose for your noodles, which for the shiromaru are of the thin and straight variety typically used for Hakata tonkotsu broth based ramen. I chose the firmest level, and if the noodles that I got in my bowl were any indication, I probably wouldn’t order anything lower. They were just firm enough for me, but I like al dente noodles.
This was a decent tonkotsu bowl, though expensive at $18 and I personally wouldn’t wait in a long line for it. For a recent comparison, the tonkotsu bowl I had at Marufuku in Japantown a little while ago was better tasting IMHO and was more generous in toppings.