Eating Vicariously at Ippudo Berkeley

Ippudo is the name of an International Japanese ramen chain. With two ramen shops in New York City, Ippudo opened its third U.S. location on Friday in Berkeley. My friend dined there on Saturday and gave me a play by play in real time so I figured I would share the details.

She strategically arrived at Ippudo at 3:50pm for a meal (not sure whether to call it a late lunch or an early dinner).  There were close to forty people waiting in line in front of her and she waited 45 minutes to get seated. This was not bad as other patrons had waited up to three hours to be one of the first people to eat at Ippudo.She started with the Ippudo chicken wings. They were well seasoned and had the perfect fried crispy skin. The black pepper honey glaze made them finger licking good. She claims them to be the best chicken wings she has ever eaten.
While she was thoroughly enjoying her wings, her bowl of ramen came out. She had let the bowl sit there and after seven minutes, the manager came over to take it away because he felt the quality was compromised. It wasn’t until she finished her chicken wings that her new bowl of ramen came out. The Shiromaru special was ramen noodles with a tasty pork belly cha sui, a soft boiled egg, and a rich and delicious Tonkotsu, pork based broth. She thought the egg was a little over done. 
She ended her meal with a double scoop of creamy black sesame ice cream.  
All in all, she enjoyed her meal. She does want to return at some point to try some other items, including the spicy ramen. Maybe at that time, I will be done with my thirty day no carb, no sugar diet and will join her. I love me a good bowl of ramen.

Orenchi Ramen: A Perfect Harmony of Soup and Noodles

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When people think ramen, the first thing that comes to mind is probably an instant bag of noodles that cost pennies. For Asians, it is comparable to Kraft macaroni and cheese as a college staple.

I became introduced to restaurants that exclusively served bowls of ramen noodles living in Los Angeles in the mid 1990s. Being 500 miles from home, a bowl of ramen gave me a sense of comfort. These bowls were much more sophisticated than throwing a bag of dried noodles into a pot of boiling water.

I’ve had a few good bowls of ramen in the Bay Area. If I were on the show “The Best Thing I Ever Ate,” I would be confident to announce ramen at Orenchi Ramen in Santa Clara. I’ve never had better.

The two key factors in a good bowl of ramen are the noodles and the soup broth. The noodles used at Orenchi are thick noodles that are springy and neither too soft nor too hard. The broth is made with pork, chicken, seafood, and vegetables and cooked for a minimum of 18 hours.

The menu at Orenchi is fairly simple. You have a choice of three types of ramen which are shoyu (soy base), shio (salt base), and Orenchi (tonkotsu or pork bone base). I cannot get enough of the Orenchi Ramen which comes with pork, green onion, bamboo shoots, mushrooms, sesame, nori seaweed, and a soft boiled seasoned egg. It is pure delight.

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There are also a number of appetizers at Orenchi, but there really is only one reason to go there. The ramen at Orenchi is indeed the perfect harmony of soup and noodles. If only it was closer to me!

Sumika in Los Altos is their sister restaurant that serves grilled meats and things. This year it was included in the Michelin guide and I hope to try it someday soon.