Updated: Jan 18
It only fits that my first blog post features the restaurant that was also the subject of my very first instagram post. I can still remember the day Menya Ultra opened their first location in the US; people had brought lawn chairs because the wait was THAT long. And for good reason- acclaimed chef Takashi Endo had spent months perfecting his broth before opening (he had to account for the fact that water is very different here compared to Japan) while also winning multiple awards for his existing ramen shops. He even hand-makes all his noodles daily!
As a self-proclaimed ramen fanatic, I have tried 20+ different ramen places all over San Diego, and have gotten into at least 30+ fights over which one is the best (just kidding! But really, people are very passionate about their favorites!). When it comes to ramen, the most common types you'll see are tonkotsu (rich pork bone broth), miso, shoyu (soy sauce) and shio (light chicken bone broth). You have 4 major components: broth, noodles, egg and chashu (braised pork belly). Most ramen places usually offer other variations such as curry or tantan ramens as well. Now the thing is, everyone has different tastes when it comes to ramen. I personally prefer lighter broths that are less salty and oily (if I have to drink at least 5 glasses of water and can't even finish the bowl, it's not light!). It can be incredibly difficult to find tonkotsu ramens that aren't heavy. However, Menya achieves the perfect balance of a delicate broth that has incredible silky umami flavors at the same time. Looking at other components, their noodles are always perfectly bouncy, their chashu falls apart in your mouth with absolute deliciousness, and the egg is ALWAYS perfectly soft boiled. I would say a majority of San Diego agrees with me- good luck finding a time when there isn't a large crowd outside of its doors!
Now to talk about the non-ramen items. For me a meal isn't complete without karaage, or Japanese fried chicken. Menya's is a perfect pre-ramen snack; coated well to give a good crunch, perfectly moist and juicy on the inside. If you have never tried karaage, JUST DO IT. You won't regret it! Though I don't usually eat dessert after ramen (my stomach can only fit so much) I was intrigued by Menya's tempura ice cream. I had never heard of such a thing and had no idea what to expect. I mean, can a ramen place really pull off ice cream?! Surprise surprise, they can! What I was given was sort of like an ice cream sandwich (see below) except the outside was hot and crunchy while the inside was cool. Delicious? Absolutely.
I hope I've convinced you to try Menya ramen, whether you're a local or live in the neighborhood! And even maybe convinced you that it is indeed the best in San Diego ;)