A few weeks ago, I heard that a new ramen restaurant was opening in Oakland. I was stoked, especially when I learned that a few alums from Chez Panisse – Sam White, Jerry Jaksich and Rayneil De Guzman – were behind the magic. On Friday, Jan. 4, Ramen Shop opened its doors, and on Saturday evening, a couple friends and I went to check it out.
Apparently, we weren't the only ones who were excited. At 5 p.m., an hour after opening, the place was already packed and we were told we had a 45 minute wait ahead of us. We sidled up to the bar in the front of the restaurant, where my companions ordered drinks, and we patiently waited for our names to be called.
The ramen gods were kind, and we were seated faster than expected. We got the best seats in the house, at the beautiful wood counter, where we could watch the chefs and kitchen staff prepare the noodles, ladle the broth, and cut the pork.
The menu was concise (fine by me, as it's easier to make decisions this way), but still, we had three choices for ramen – shoyu meyer lemon ramen, vegetable ramen, and spicy miso ramen. I was intrigued by the meyer lemon option, so of course, I had to order it.
A few minutes later, a gorgeous bowl of noodles in steaming broth was placed in front of me. I expected it to look good, but would it taste as good as it looked? I separated my wooden chopsticks and took the plunge.
The component that usually makes or breaks ramen is the noodles. And luckily Ramen Shop did not disappoint here. The noodles had a good springy chew. But the bigger standout was the salt cured egg, which was melt-in-my-mouth perfection, and the meyer lemon shoyu soup, which imparted more of a sweet and bright, rather than tangy, flavor to the broth. The slice of spit roasted chashu pork was decadently fatty and delicious, but I wished there was more than just a single piece in the bowl, even just one more.
At $15 a bowl, this ramen isn't a bargain, but on that rainy Saturday night in Rockridge, I was perfectly happy, from first to last slurp.
Ramen Shop is open 4-midnight daily, except on Tuesdays; no reservations.
All photos by Sarah Han