I placed my bets some 12 years ago that Boiling Crab in Garden Grove would do well, and Santouka has the same type of DNA to do the same, if they wanted to.
Say what you will about Hokkaido Ramen Santouka, but I respect the hell out of them.
There are couple dominant leaders in Los Angeles that have been around for a while, and regardless of all the new competition, Santouka probably never broke a sweat… that’s because they’re gangsta AF.
They do so many things right from their multiple broth offerings which all don’t suck, and they’re almost all equally as good although my favorite is the tonkotsu shio (salt). It’s probably the one I most often order aside from the kara-miso (spicy by Japanese standards, wimps) and the tonkotsu shoyu which is what they offer in most markets to put the smack down on the competition.
If that weren’t enough, their toppings kill it because toppings like menma (bamboo shoots) are usually overlooked or trivialized, but theirs is one of the best out there.
It’s not just the bamboo shoots, but it’s all their toppings as a whole. Toppings that include kikurage (wood ear mushrooms) tamago (egg), naruto (fish cake), or their two types of chashu. The regular “leaner” standard pork chashu is good but my go to is the toro-niku made from pork cheek which is the same cut as Italian guanciale.
Also, my favorite broth is the only one that gets the umeboshi (pickled plum), so if you’re like me, you’d know it’s these subtle touches that should make you bow down to Santouka when they come to your town.
Also for a couple of you haters, I know you’re going to be like “this ish isn’t the best.” Yea, and I’m not saying that it is the best ramen ever. I am saying it is the best chain ramen with a sizable product offering that is consistently served up worldwide. For that, they are the closest thing to being the McDonalds of ramen (yea McDonald’s sales are slumping, but it’s a close enough of analogy).
Now about my only gripe which is about the spoons. So many other locations get a big ass spoon, but my spot gets a tiny little plastic disposable spoon. At one time we got the big ones, but that was too good to last because as easy it was to giveth, it was quickly taketh away. That’s just bullsh*t because real g’s (“g” for Greg) who support Santouka, deserve a big spoon.
Hokkaido Ramen Santouka
West Coast Locations
801 Kaheka Street #A-8, Honolulu, Hawaii 96814
Bellevue, Seattle, WA
103 Bellevue Way, NE, Suite 3, Bellevue, WA 98004
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