Ramen for lunch at Ozumo, 161 Steuart Street. San Francisco 415 882-1333
When it comes to comfort food, nothing beats a bowl of ramen, thin, hopefully chewy noodles in an addictive salty broth with goodies. Ramen central continues to be San Mateo, with several excellent, dedicated ramen shops–Ramen Dojo and Santa. But the craze has spread to the City. Now every izakaya, Japanese pop-up and food truck attempts to make it, for better or worse.
Ozumo, the big, bustling, high end Japanese eatery just off the Embarcadero has entered the ramen sweepstakes with daily noodle service in the lounge from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Ozumo does many things well but could its kitchen take on ramen as well?
Two of us sat near the front window in Ozumo’s lounge, on a Japanese stool and a soft upholstered bench with pillows, at a rustic wooden table. We were brought bowls of salted, steamed fresh soy beans in their pods to nibble on and a heavy iron pot of green tea. We ordered not from the big leather bound menu–which also has ramen–but a small ramen card with five selections, set on the table.
That day my deep bowl of Ozumo ramen ($13) had a rich, salty, cloudy tonkotsu broth, redolent of roasted garlic and boiled pork bones (though the menu indicated a shoyu or soy-based broth). Resting on top of curly noodles, not quite as firm as I would have liked, were slices of melting, buttery pork cheek, equally soft squid cake, bits of snow crab, and a magnificent onsen or boiled egg with runny orange yolk. Broth and goodies were delicious, voluptuous, but not hot. A big sin. I don’t know if the bowl waited too long to be picked up by the waitress or whether the broth simply wasn’t heated up long enough, but this would never happen at a dedicated ramen shop. I much preferred the luxurious richness of the Ozumo broth to the thinner flavored Spicy Miso Ramen ($12) bowl with chicken, perfect egg, and cabbage. I have put the Ozumo bowl in my destination dish file with the caveat to remind the waiter and kitchen that I want it HOT.