Tonkotsu or shoyu, spicy or mild, with or without bamboo shoots – however you order it, ramen is bound to be satisfying.
But there are good ramen and there are passable ramen. To figure out which ones are worth your time and money, take a look at this obsessive ranking of 145 restaurants serving ramen in the Bay Area.
Visualization is the job of Rajesh Niti, a cancer researcher in Los Altos and the same guy behind the Bay Area Indian restaurant blackout that pissed people off. The chart plots ramen vendors on the price (vertical) and flavor (horizontal) axes. Restaurants in the lower left quadrant would be cheap but not as tasty. Those in the upper right sector drain your wallet but are, by most accounts, sublime. The sweet spot is at the bottom right, where the price is low and the taste is high.
good morning #BayArea . Here is an analysis of the cost compared to the rating of 140+ #ramen Restaurants [bigger dot = more reviews].
Use the link below to find your favorite restaurants.https://t.co/gGeJsu8FVA#foodie #foodblogger #OFS #japanese food #California #food pic.twitter.com/07kidl3yrP
— Rajesh Niti (@messidude) May 5, 2022
“This scan was specifically done at the request of my childhood friend (we’ve known each other for 29 years now),” says Rajesh. “She loves ramen and has her favorites in that area, and wanted to see how they stacked up against other ramen spots.”
To calculate, Rajesh pulled reviews and price data from websites like Yelp and Zomato and delivery sites like Grubhub and Uber Eats. It only included restaurants with a significant number of reviews. (The larger the dot on the graph, the more reviews the restaurant has.) Some people might notice places that aren’t particularly known for ramen — Berkeley’s Manpuku, for example, is famous for its large portions of sushi.
“I didn’t try to separate (places like that) because I saw that some sushi restaurants seemed to be well known for their ramen as well,” says Rajesh.
The visualization highlights the landscape of the ramen in the bay. “Unsurprisingly, San Francisco has a lot of great places with San Jose,” he says. “The most expensive ramen restaurant seems to be the one in Berkeley. Oakland also presents itself with good ramen spots. It also seems that ramen spots are popular near universities.
What is the “best” ramen for quality versus cost? Prepare yourselves. Top scores include Ramen Nagi (a South Bay chain), Nute’s in San Francisco (which has a Thai menu section?), and Jijime, which is also in San Francisco and specializes in Korean-Asian fusion (?!!).
Arguably the most expensive but worthwhile ramen, at least by this accounting, is Ramen Gaijin — it’s in Sebastopol in the Sonoma wine region, so it’s not particularly shocking. (You can get “shoyu paitan” with asparagus and “rolled lamb shoulder chashu.”) A prominent holder of the “more expensive than average but not as tasty” label is Ramen Shop in Berkeley. His alumni Chez Panisse specialize in cooking with local and sustainable ingredients, whipping up ramen with braised daikon and Liberty Farms smoked duck. While the bowls certainly aren’t cheap up to $25, in this reviewer’s opinion, they don’t deserve this disgrace.
Does Rajesh even to like ramen anyway?
“I love ramen. Instant ramen made me an instant fan, and there was no going back,” he says. “I love Ramen Seas in Sunnyvale, but my favorite childhood friend is Myzen Ramen (in Sunnyvale) – she swears by it.”
The Bay Area offers nearly endless options for outdoor adventures, tasty bites, and unexpected day trips. So we created the Bay Area Bucket List, a project that asks our readers to help us find the best activities.
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