San Mateo has tons.. TONS of respectable Ramen joints. I’ve been on this never-ending quest for that perfect bowl. Thick flavorful broth, springy just right noodles, toppings galore and something to make all those Southern CA cats STFU because they have such a righteous Ramen culture there. I’ve been disappointed before with Bay Area Ramen, I’ve been underwhelmed and just “ok” with things. Sometimes I’d get great broth, but the chashu was horrible, other times I’d get a ton of noodles, but they’d be mushy and over cooked. Then… there was Ramen Dojo.. and there shall be no other (for the moment at least) for me.
My best friend from high school was in town visiting her mom and we decided to have a lunch date. I hadn’t seen her in over 5 years and was wracking my brain for something to impress her with since she’s a reader of my blog! I remember I had bookmarked Ramen Dojo on Yelp to try next time I was near San Mateo and made it a destination for our girly lunch. I read the glowing reviews about the Garlic Pork broth and knew the lines would be insane. We arrive a bit after 1pm for lunch service with nearly a dozen people ahead of us in line.
The line moved quickly, surprisingly since it’s the smallest Ramen spot I’ve ever seen. With the menu posted on the outside window, we had an idea of what we wanted to order before we even sat down. I really wanted some taikoyaki but they only had those for dinner service. We got boiled dumplings instead plus 2 bowls of Garlic Pork Broth, regular spicy, with corn for me and napa cabbage for my friend.
The delicate dumplings were gingery and delish for their small size but I didn’t pay too much attention as I was really excited about the Ramen. Those bowls of nom nom came and I was in awe! The broth was amazing. The regular spicy level has just enough kick but never over powered the rich pork broth. Each beautiful bowl came with 2 pieces of chashu, fried garlic gloves, kikurage mushrooms, chives, a quail egg and what they refer to as “chicken gravy” (cooked ground chicken, chopped shiitake mushrooms, chopped ginger, sesame oil and shredded red pepper) and lots of springy noodles. The chicken gravy was like soul crack, it added a hefty protein punch to your soup and the chashu was rich, moist and had a great fat to meat ratio, my only gripe was the quail egg was fully done and not the runny yolk I love so much, but I got over that pretty quickly. I found myself digging in with such enthusiasm, slurping down to the very drop.
IT WAS FUCKIN’ AMAZING. A few days later and back at home, my friend texted me “I can’t stop thinking about Ramen Dojo“, me too baby girl. I want another bowl as we speak. They run out of the garlic broth fairly quickly, the people who sat next to us couldn’t order it as they had already run out. We got the last few bowls, hells yea for us!
805 S B St
San Mateo, CA 94401