Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Quick Bite: Ramen Ryoma

Spicy miso ramen at Ramen Ryoma
In my estimation, Tajima ruled the realm of San Diego ramen for years. Then, in 2017, a challenger appeared: the wildly popular Menya Ultra gave them a run for their money with an absolutely killer bowl. Still, I'm always looking for a place that can dethrone this newly-formed top tier.

Will Ramen Ryoma in Kearny Mesa be the one? Well... no. (Really built up the suspense there, didn't I?) It was good and a little different, but it didn't quite measure up.

I got the spicy miso ramen, which comes with chashu, spicy ground meat, bean sprouts, seaweed and green onion. What I really didn't enjoy was the ground meat. Before mixing it in, it was actually cold; I know it's designed to be mixed in, but it's really unappetizing in a steaming hot dish. The texture reminded me of coarse ground turkey—again, not something I especially want in my ramen.

The meat also contained all the spice of the dish, though, which diffused nicely into the broth, turning it from light and buttery to spicy and hearty. The noodles were springy and satisfyingly al dente. The best part was the chashu: a single enormously thick slab, meltingly tender and roasty. The nori was okay, though I prefer it more crisp and less... floppy. The green onion and sprouts, though, added a lovely fresh finish.

Ramen Ryoma may be aiming to start an empire; they're in the process of opening up shop in Hillcrest and Pacific Beach. Will they eventually expand enough to challenge Tajima's dominance? I tend to think not. They can make a serviceable bowl of ramen, but they'll need an infusion of personality and some culinary fine-tuning before they can take on the greats.

Score: 6 out of 10 (Decent)

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