I’ve tried quite a few of their bowls except for the specials/limited ones (the lamb and clam bowls for example tend to sell out quickly).
The vegetarian tan tan men (or whatever it was called) was my favorite at the time and the sesame flavors in the rich/kotteri broth worked very well, but eventually I kept going back to the shio or shoyu bowls as they are less heavy, with the shoyu being the clear winner. Mensho Tokyo is not a place I frequent often, since parking in the area is heinous and costly, and pricing is very high despite the ramen quality.
If one is going to splurge, might as well get a beer or sake with the ramen (the Suntory draft is especially delicious in the late hour, if you are chasing it down from a previous bang-bang). With all that said, it’s as close to ramen in Tokyo as you can get in terms of quality and flavor, where you do get what you pay for.
By the way, Shono’s business partner in Mensho Tokyo is a very famous ramen eater/critic, Abram Plaut. Shono and Plaut make random trips between Tokyo and SF to see how their branch is doing while doing research and planning for new ramen offerings. Download the ramen beast app for fun viewing (and useful if you are in Tokyo), also check out his ramenbeast.com website.
Thanks. I definitely want to try out their Shio Ramen next time.
That’s also good to know that Shono-san and Plaut make trips between Tokyo and SF to ensure the branches’ quality; you can taste that it’s very solid at the SF Mensho.
Some great shoyu ramen in SoCal (in no particular order):
- Kitakata Ramen (Costa Mesa, Buena Park)
- Tokyo Yatai Ramen @ Jiydaiya (Gardena)
- Chuka Soba @ Venice Ramen (Venice)
- Shoyu Ramen @ HiroNori (Irvine)
EDIT: I know you know about these places, so why disregard them?
Again, I would like a list of offenders.
I would like to better understand this recurring complaint.
I have heard of the following…
I am trying to gain a better frame of reference.
Why does your post come across as hostile? Either way, to answer your question:
Kitakata - Is not the classic Kanto-style / Tokyo Shoyu Ramen I’m referring to. It’s literally Kitakata-style Ramen. The chef I spoke to and the multiple staff all proudly state that that is their specialty. I would say the flavors lack the deep Shoyu backnote in a Shoyu Ramen.
Jidaiya - We went to Jidaiya a few times when it first opened up. We knew Chef Masakazu Sasaki from Torihei, and he told us in confidence that he didn’t think his Shoyu Ramen was ready yet (not to the point he wanted it). He recommended we stick with the Tonkotsu, which is what we did. I haven’t been back to see if the Shoyu has finally improved or not, but I haven’t heard any great reports about it.
Venice Ramen - Never been.
HiroNori - That’s not a classic Shoyu. They make a Tonkotsu Shoyu, totally kotteri, layered with massive backfat and it might as well be just called “Tonkotsu” at that point.
Preface: I greatly respect and appreciate your contributions here.
If there was perceived hostility, it was not my intention.
My intention was to correct an inaccuracy.
Looking at your post above…
You are correct, Kitakata Ramen is different than Tokyo-style ramen.
But, it is a shoyu-based ramen. You did not mention in your initial post that LA was missing specifically Tokyo-style shoyu ramen.
However, if you were to press forward with saying that LA is missing good Tokyo-style shoyu ramen. I would still say you are incorrect. While it is true that tonkotsu is currently king in LA and elsewhere, the options that I listed are delicious examples of Tokyo-style shoyu ramen.
I don’t know Chef Sasaki.
I do know that Jidaiya’s Tokyo Yatai Ramen is damn good.
I encourage you to go.
Because of my respect for you and your contributions here (and a bit of intimidation in taking you on), I did some further research.
It does have fat on top. And because of this it is quite kotteri.
But this is Tokyo-style shoyu ramen.
Mensho’s Shoyu Ramen (Plenty of fat here too)
HiroNori’s Shoyu Ramen
You can interpret your own “shoyu ramen” however you like, but what you’re saying isn’t true. Stop missing the forest for the trees.
I polled 5 of my friends from Japan (3 from Tokyo, 1 from Osaka and 1 from Kyoto). I asked them to explain what they would interpret if they went out and were in the mood for a good “shoyu ramen.” ALL of them said that they were thinking of the classic Tokyo / Kanto-style, clear (not kotteri, not blended) type of ramen that I was referring to earlier.
Yes, nowadays it’s trendy and popular to have anything be called “Shoyu Ramen” and have Tonkotsu Shoyu, Miso Shoyu, and many other variations. That’s not what I’m referring to.
Kitakata Ramen is not a Tokyo / Kanto-style Shoyu Ramen.
Jidaiya: I might give it another try, but since Sasaki-san wasn’t even recommending this to me back in the day, I didn’t bother with it.
HiroNori: We already went over this in the other thread. When you went, they were experimenting. Their version of “Shoyu” when I went was much different:
In speaking with Chef Nori, he even said that this was not a traditional Tokyo / Kanto-style Shoyu. It was his own creation, and the sheer amount of backfat makes this nothing like a classic Tokyo Shoyu, which is what I was referring to.
I’ve edited my OP to more clearly state the type of Shoyu I was referring to. Thanks.
We couldn’t wait to go back to Mensho Tokyo to try more of their Ramen offerings, which was another restaurant that we had a good experience with last time. We were also hoping that Chef-Owner Tomoharu Shono might have added a new (unique) flavor on the menu, since he’s made so many different bowls at his restaurants in Japan.
Shio Ramen (Clear Chicken and Pork Soup, Shio Dare, Pork Chashu, Kale, Menma, Fried Garlic, Chives, Nori):
Mensho’s Shio Ramen (Salt-based Ramen Broth) tastes of a clean Torigara (Chicken Bone) and Tonkotsu (Pork Bone) base, but it’s a bit funkier and porkier than what we were expecting, however it’s still delicious.
Their Chashu Pork Slices remain consistently great: Even approaching 2 years since their opening, the Chashu is meltingly tender, very fresh and just fantastic!
Their Noodles have a good chew to them, while still being sufficiently tender and matches the Shio Broth pretty well.
Spicy Lamb Ramen (Rich and Creamy Miso Soup, Pork Chashu, Green Onion, Nira, Menma, Ground Lamb):
While their Shio Ramen was pretty tasty, it’s their Spicy Lamb Ramen that captured our taste buds on this visit. While you can taste a strong Miso base and influence, it’s incorporated into an incredible, lively Spicy Lamb Gravy along with some fragrant seasonings (Cumin, maybe some Garam Masala even), to give it a very exotic, unique taste.
On this chilly night, the Spicy Lamb Ramen was gamy, spicy, fragrant and warming. I’ve never had anything like this for Ramen before, and it shows Shono-san’s creativity and understanding of flavors (it’s well-thought-out).
The Pork Chashu was as fantastic as the previous bowl, and it’s encouraging to see Mensho not cut any corners, despite its popularity.
The Noodles used here were a thicker Ramen Noodle, not quite Udon heftiness, but almost like the fatter Noodles in some Tsukemen (Dip Ramen) preparations. It matched the Spicy Lamb quite well, standing up to the flavors.
The wait is still crazy. As @beefnoguy warned, we showed up at prime time dinner hour and waited about 45 minutes or so, but it was worth it considering the quality of the Ramen we got.
Mensho Tokyo continues to deliver some great bowls of warming, high quality Ramen that’s worth a try. I liked the Shio (Salt) Ramen on this visit, but the Spicy Lamb Ramen was really unique and even tastier. Overall, my favorite is still their fantastic Shoyu (Soy Sauce-base) Ramen, which just had a lightness that gets away from the popular-dominant, heavy-fatty Tonkotsu Ramen offerings that seem to remain so popular in California.
From the clear delicate Soup, to the custom-made Noodles for Mensho, to the outstanding, tender, fresh Chashu, to the accompanying veggies, Mensho Tokyo is just an outstanding Ramen-ya making fantastic Tokyo-style Shoyu Ramen (and a great Tori Paitan, Shio and that Spicy Lamb Ramen) that I hope one day branches out to Los Angeles.
672 Geary Street
San Francisco, CA 94102
Tel: (415) 800-8345
post-pandemic mensho appears to have changed into a completely different establishment. the shio (which i thought was by far the best bowl they made) and the shoyu are both gone, replaced by garlic-heavy tonkotsu-type broth a la ramen nagi.
for a while they had the shio at their san rafael location, but now thats gone as well, and in expanding to a union city location, they’ve fully adopted the ramen nagi format with paper card that you fill out choosing your customization. extremely disappointing…