Ryowa

Ryowa
2068 University Avenue
(at Milvia St & Shattuck Ave)
Berkeley, CA 94704
(510) 883-0667

This is a no-frills ramen house, a-la-Tampopo, but minus the comedy. I’ve been here three times now, and will probably keep going back whenever I have a noodle soup craving in downtown Berkeley. Although Cha-Ya is a short walk away, sometimes you want some chashu (pork) ramen, and Ryowa will deliver. This is probably my new standby for a quick pre-Berkeley Rep meal.

I still haven’t tried the butter corn ramen, but the original, shoyu, and butabara bowls are pretty tasty. The sesame broth is light, as is the shoyu, but still flavorful. Unlike some places I’ve tried, I actually find myself trying to drink the broth down, especially after adding in some red pepper powder. I’ve also heard that the kara-age (fried chicken) is really goos, but I’ll have to wait to go there with a bigger group. The menu is pretty much just ramen, gyoza, fried rice, and kara-age, so don’t go here if you want to have a variety of eating options…

Red Box Sushi

Red Box Sushi
581 Eddy Street
San Francisco, CA 94102

This place is so small that it’s easy to almost walk past without noticing it, but it serves up some great sushi in the Tenderloin. The fish is fresh and almost buttery, and it’s the perfect place to go before seeing a show or movie. I went there before seeing the Preservation Hall Jazz Band at the Great American Music Hall with Erin.

We started with some miso soup, which was really flavorful compared to the stuff you get elsewhere. Maybe they put in too much miso paste, but I liked it. We ended up getting a few maki and the sashimi combo (although i thought we ordered the sushi combo…). The sashimi was melt-in-your-mouth good, especially the salmon. The unagi maki was also good, but somehow less memorable to me. There were a number of crazy American-style rolls if that’s your thing (it’s not mine). The standout thing for me was an innovation of the chef that he called “firecracker balls.” These are spicy tuna maki, batter-dipped and deep fried, with what tasted like sriracha, mayonnaise, and tobiko on top. If you like spicy food, definitely get these. All in all, a worthwhile trip. Next time I’ll go with more people so we can try more things.