Japantown Guide – San Francisco

ramen san francisco

San Francisco’s Japantown is a world of its own. Visiting Japantown is a unique experience that you won’t find in any other U.S. city. When you visit, you never know what will be happening. From massive anime festivals to the cherry blossom celebration, there is always something to do or see. Today we are introducing you to some of our favorite spots in this unique neighborhood! If you haven’t checked out our San Fran sushi guide we also highlight some Japantown gems there.

Ramen Yamadaya

Just like Maryland is known for crab cakes and football, Japantown is known for ramen and sushi. Once you have ramen from Ramen Yamadaya there will be no going back to Cup Noodles. The spicy miso has all the salty and savory you love with that added kick of togarashi and chili powder. It is the perfect combination of flavor that won’t burn your taste buds off, but will have you craving more and more. Topped with melt-in-your-mouth pork belly, it will be hard for you not have a second bowl.

Here at NearU we are avid poutine fans, and any opportunity we have to try it– we do. Ramen Yamadaya has their own version called “Tokyo Poutine.” With a curry-based gravy, this is not your traditional poutine. But with stick cut potatoes, melty cheese curds, and an insanely flavorful gravy, we give Yamadaya their honorary poutine club card.

Located right in the main square of Japantown, a window seat offers the perfect experience for those looking to relax, recharge, and people watch.

 Hinodeya Ramen Bar

We are continuing the ramen train across the street to Ramen Yamadaya’s slightly more upscale neighbor. Hinodeya has an upscale fine dining feel to it and brings a menu to back it up. With a robust sake menu, this is the perfect spot to start the night. Here, you can enjoy local Bay Area sake or sake from the restaurant owner’s hometown in Japan. Can’t decide on which one? Well, lucky for you they have sake flights. Is beer more your speed? Don’t fret because they have imported beers from Japan both on tap and in the bottle.

But let’s not bury the lead here… the star of the show is the ramen of course! Their house broth is straight umami flavor, made with dashi and scallops. Yup, scallops. This is not your run-of-the-mill ramen broth. Made with wheat noodles, these ramen bowls offer a fresh new take on the traditional ramen noodle.

On The Bridge

Located “On the bridge” that connects the two sides of the Japantown Mall, this spot is such a hole-in-the-wall you might just walk right by it. The variety that this shop offers is mind blowing and will make you wonder how they can possibly bust out such a diverse menu from that tiny kitchen.

On The Bridge has udon, soba, and ramen that are all phenomenal. We highly recommend all of these, but for those who are stepping outside the box we recommend their Curry Pastas. This dish (Complete with housemade curry sauce) comes in a variety of flavors from your basic chicken curry to a seafood curry boasting scallop, calamari, and mussels.

On The Bridge is also fusing European and Japanese fare and calling the result two words you have probably never seen next to each other: Japanese pasta. There really are no words to describe this fusion of flavor, so get up off your couch, call Uber Eats, and experience this sensation for yourself!

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