J weekly | サンフランシスコのフリーペーパー

Japanese Noodle Special2018年7月27日

Ryujin / Raijin

Sai Wong former owner of Ryujin and Raijin
©The Sacramento Bee.
Mr. Sai was a manager of the famous restaurants Ryujin and Raijin in Sacramento. After opening a number of successful restaurants, he retired this April. J weekly interviewed Mr. Sai who is currently enjoying his retirement about his experience as a chef-owner.

How did you start in the restaurant industry?
Back in winter of 1980, I was a student in Tokyo. It was at this time when my friend took me for the first time to a street ramen place in Tokyo. The ramen bowl was hot, and I had no spoon, so I couldn’t enjoy the ramen holding the bowl. It was a simple soy ramen, but even now I remember its warming nourishing taste. Since that day I started to eat cheap tasty and convenient ramen every day. I might have had 400 bowls a year. Later I came to America because I had a family there. Even after coming to America, I couldn’t forget ramen. One day, in 1991, a ramen store opened in Sacramento. I went to check it out right away, but it wasn’t the ramen I enjoyed in Japan. From that day, I started reading articles about ramen and research how to make ramen. In 1993, I finally came up with a decent ramen recipe to open my first ramen store. I was 33 at that time.

How did you succeed with Ryujin and Raijin later?
Right after the restaurant opened, the ramen began to sell quickly. In 1994, I bought another restaurant and gave it a second life. In 2007, after a series of sales and acquisitions, I opened a Japanese restaurant Akebono, and in 2012, I opened Ryujin. In 2014, I opened Raijin just within walking distance from Ryujin.

Why did you open Raijin right next to Ryujin?
Before Raijin opened, Ryujin was a successful restaurant attracting lines of customers, but in the afternoon, after 1 pm, the customers would disappear. The situation continued for a while, and I thought that the customers wanted to try Ryujin ramen, but didn’t want to wait in line. I thought I could fix the situation by opening another ramen shop close to Ryujin. The customers could choose between the two ramen shops and more customers began to think that if they go to that area they would definitely get delicious ramen without waiting in line. As a result, there was no longer shortage of the customers after 1pm, and the sales of both restaurants increased. Now, we are training our staff with the goal to deliver one serving of ramen within a minute. With this service, we have days when we serve 600 bowls a day.

What is your goal?
One needs to do research before opening a restaurant. You need to go to a supermarket in the area of your interest and observe for a week the customers, what time they come and what they buy. You also need to develop your own restaurant menu. The menu should not be forced on the customers, but should rather be adjusted to meet their preferences. My goal is to offer ramen that customers don’t get bored eating every day.

What is the most important thing in business for you?
The one important thing is letting go of things, even important ones. A beautiful flower doesn’t bloom forever. The same could be said about a successful restaurant. I make sure to sell a restaurant when it makes the most profit. It is like leaving the most beautiful flower to bloom. Selling at the best time benefits everyone and helps future business.
Another thing is to learn earning money rather than saving it. I believe that service today becomes business tomorrow. I think it is important to invest wisely without wasteful expenses.

What are your future plans?
I didn’t take a break until now, so I want to enjoy traveling and vacations.
I’ve always loved Japan and consider moving there some day.

Ryujin / Raijin
1831 S St #100, Sacramento, CA 95811
916-341-0488 | ryujinramen.com
Mon-Sun 11:30am-2:30pm
Mon-Thu, Sun 5pm-10pm, Fri-Sat 5pm-12am
1901 S St, Sacramento, CA 95811
916-498-9968 | ramenhouseraijin.com
Tue Closed
Mon-Sun 11:30am - 9:00pm

Marugame Udon

The world’s largest udon restaurant chain Marugame Udon operates more than 1100 stores across 12 countries. The San Francisco restaurant in Stonestown Galleria is the second most profitable Marugame restaurant in the world after Marugame in Hawaii. In March, the restaurant sold more than 1,500 bowls a day, making over half a million dollars in sales for that month. Marugame Udon continues to grow its presence in the U.S. with new locations planned to open in Beverly Hills, Berkeley and Irvine. The new Northern California restaurant is scheduled to open on the UC Berkeley campus by the end of the year.

James Philip Broadus
Manager of Marugame Udon Restaurant and Store Support
Coming to the Bay Area
I moved to the Bay Area from Cincinnati, Ohio in 2001. I wanted to see more of the United States and get a better idea of what was going on in the country. The first year was a tough transition for me. For instance, I wasn’t sure how to interact with Asian people here because there are not many Asians in Ohio. Gradually I became very interested in Asian cultures and languages. After studying Chinese for a year, I decided it was too difficult. Then I tried learning Japanese and fell in love. I wanted to know everything about the Japanese language, so it became my mission for years.

Food made with care
My most memorable udon experience was in Ashikaga. My friend’s uncle owned a noodle store that specialized in soba and udon. They served me an udon dish that was very very simple. It was delicious, but I didn’t have enough knowledge of Japanese food at that time to fully appreciate it. I felt like I was missing something.
After talking to my friend, I learned that Japanese food in general is special because it is made with so much care. Japanese people take a specific pride in the way they do things. The spirit of “how it’s done” is also a part of the food. So, Kobe beef has to come from Kobe not just because the cows are given beer and massaged daily, but because the Japanese invest a great deal of care in producing the beef.

Japanese omotenashi
I joined Marugame in November 2017 and have been recently promoted to a corporate team member responsible for Northern California locations. One of the main things I love about my job is the opportunity to finally bring the authentic Japanese experience to the United States. We are staying true to the rules, the spirit and the standard that Marugame has in Kagawa prefecture for their sanuki udon. We respect their way and don’t want to change it at all.
At Marugame, each individual worker looks within himself to provide an experience of comfort to the customer. We are constantly trying something new: put umbrellas outside for the customers, serve some tea while they are waiting in line and offer coupons. When I was in Japan, the hospitality called omotenashi blew my mind. I feel like with this restaurant I can finally give back for the service I received in Japan. I learned from the Japanese that heart-felt customer service is something more than just providing food. Omotenashi can also change your life, change your day, build a friendship and make you more “genki” in general.

Future ambition
We always want to maintain the integrity of our company. This summer, we introduced the special tonkotsu udon and are planning to offer kitsune udon later in August. We are also thinking about adding some small dessert items like dango and yokan.
We are grateful for our customers and strive to create a place for the community. Our many ideas include providing entertainment for customers waiting in line, holding udon eating contest for kids and decorating walls with pictures of our customers.

James’ message to readers
Bringing the authentic Japanese experience to the United States is a work in progress. We might not get it right the day you come in, but we are working very hard. We hope to make Japanese culture more understandable to Americans, and it’s a part of our mission to be the ambassadors of Japanese culture to the United States.

Marugame Udon
3251 20TH AVE.,SAN FRANCISCO, CA 94132
Mon-Sun 11:00am - 10:00pm
Different theories exist on the origin of ramen. One of them suggests that ramen was introduced to Japan by Chinese in the late nineteenth century. The Chinese noodle soup laa-mien was made of handmade noodles and lite chicken broth. Ramen gained further popularity after World War II with the increasing imports of the U.S. wheat to Japan. Nowadays ramen represents an iconic Japanese dish with many regional variations such as Tokyo Ramen, Yokohama Ramen and Hokkaido Ramen. The essence of ramen ramen broth can be kotteri (rich) or assari (light). Kotteri broths are usually thick and opaque, and assari broths are clear and require less cooking time. The most common ingredients for the broth base are animal bones (pork, chicken, beef), fish, seafood, and sea kelp, with tonkotsu (pork bone) broth being the most recognized one. Ramen noodles vary considerably in shape, size and texture. Each chef strives to find the perfect noodle-broth combination. Most ramen shops in the Bay Area serve ramen with familiar toppings, including pork belly, bamboo shoots, leeks, bean sprouts and soft-boiled eggs.
Easy ramen recipe to try at home (Serves 2)
< Ingredients>
Your choice of Vegetables
(cabbage, carrots, etc)
2 boiled egg, cut in half
-For soup
1tbsp sesame oil
2 cloves garlic
1 inch ginger root, sliced
2 green onions
1/2 tsp Chili Bean Paste
0.2 – 0.3 lb (100g) Minced Pork
4 cup hot water
1 Tbsp Cooking Sake
1 Tbsp Chicken & Pork Soup Stock
(Youki “Weiyu” or Koukishoko “Weipa” are recommended brands.)
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp sugar
2 inches grated carrot and onion
3 tbsp miso
salt and pepper
2 servings Ramen Noodles
< Instructions>
  1. Chop garlic, ginger, and green onions. And boil water in a large pot.
  2. Heat sesame oil in a pot on a medium-low heat, and cook chopped garlic, ginger, green onions and chili bean paste until fragrant.
  3. Increase heat to high and cook meat until brown. Then add all the ingredients and boil the soup.
  4. Heat oil in a pan and stir fry vegetables with salt and pepper.
  5. Put the noodles in the boiling water and cook according to the package instructions and drain completely.
  6. Divide noodles into the bowls and add soup to the noodles. Put toppings on the noodles.

Unlike ramen that came from China, soba noodles originated in Japan and are considered the foundation of Japanese cuisine. Markets in Japan usually offer fresh soba, but in the United States it is commonly sold in dried form. The noodles come in a variety of shape and thickness, and range in color from light-beige to dark-brown and grey. Although authentic soba is made from whole-grain buckwheat and has a pronounced nutty flavor, some soba noodles nowadays contain wheat flour and are not completely gluten free. Chewy with a firm texture, soba can be enjoyed hot or cold. Hot soba is served in a deep bowl with condiments such as ginger and wasabi on the side. Cold soba is placed on a seiro bamboo tray and comes with condiments, tsuyu dipping sauce and sobaya (the water in which noodles were cooked). Some popular soba types include tenzaru soba (cold soba with tempura), tororo soba (soba with grated nagaimo) and cha soba (soba made with powdered green tea).
Zaru Soba Recipe (Serves 2)
< Ingredients>
Nori, shredded
green onions, chopped
7 oz soba noodles
mentsuyu (Noodle Soup Base)
ice water
< Instructions>
  1. Boil water in a large pot and add soba. Gently stir.
  2. Cook soba following the package instructions.
  3. Drain soba noodles and rinse lightly under running cold water to remove starch. Chill noodles in ice water for a minute, then drain completely.
  4. Mix mentsuyu and ice water and transfer to dipping bowls.
  5. Place soba noodles on plates and top with shredded roasted seaweed.
  6. Serve with chopped green onions and wasabi on a side.

Udon came to Japan from China in Kamakura era (1185–1333). Initially it was out of reach for many people, with only the rich being able to afford it. In the Edo era (1603-1868), however, the noodles became more obtainable and gained in popularity. Many prefectures in Japan boast their own unique udon types such as sanuki udon from Kagawa, misonikomi udon from Aichi and mizusawa udon from Gunma. Udon noodles can be enjoyed freshly boiled and soft or cooled down and firm. Interestingly, each different way of eating udon has its own special name. Kake-udon, for instance, is when soy sauce-based broth is poured on top of firm noodles. Another way is kamatama udon, when soft noodles are mixed with a fresh egg and poured with soy sauce and soup. One of the most popular udon variety Kitsune udon features clear broth, thick noodles and savory sweet fried tofu. While in the Bay Area udon can only be enjoyed at sit-down restaurants, many udon restaurants in Japan are self-service, when customers serve their selected toppings and other ingredients themselves. Some udon factories in Japan also serve noodles on site.
Salad Udon Noodle recipe to try at home (Serves 2)
< Ingredients>
*Salad Udon Noodle is a popular savory summer dish in Japan made of cold udon noodles with salad on top and mentsuyu soup base. Mentsuyu is typically made from sake, mirin, soy sauce, dried seaweed and dried bonito flakes.
-For Sauce
2 Tbsp Mentsuyu (per serving)
Mayonnaise (Proper amount)

1 can of tuna
2 Tbsp mayonnaise
2-3 leaves iceberg lettuce
1 tomato
1 Persian/Japanese cucumber
(1Japanese cucumber=1/3 English cucumber)
Tenkasu (Agedama) (Proper amount)
*Crunchy bits of deep fried batter
Katsuobushi (Proper amount)
Shredded Roasted Nori (Kizami Nori) (Proper amount)

2 packages of Udon noodles
(frozen “Sanuki Udon” recommended)
< Instructions>
  1. Add mayonnaise and soy sauce to tuna and gently mix it.
  2. Cut cucumber, lettuce and tomato into bite size pieces.
  3. Boil lots of water in a large pot and add frozen udon. Cook until it boils again.
  4. Put the udon noodles in a colander and lightly rinse under cold running water. (Do not over wash! Noodles will become tasteless.)
  5. Serve udon on a plate and add all toppings on top.
  6. Pour mentsuyu and mayonnaise over udon and add some ice cubes to keep the noodles and sauce cold.

Somen are thin vermicelli-like hard-wheat noodles that, like all other Japanese noodles, can be served hot or cold. It is especially popular in summer for its cooling effect. In summer, hiyashi somen is often served atop a bed of ice and comes with tsuyu dipping sauce and side garnishes such as wasabi, seaweed, green onion, ginger, roasted sesame seeds and plum pickles. Somen can also be used as an appetizer or a side dish. Nyumen somen is served in a hot broth made of katsuo-konbu dashi and seasoned with light soy sauce and mirin. One yellowish variety of somen, called "tamago somen" has egg yolk in it. Hand-streched tenobe somen is considered to have a better taste and texture than a machine-made one, which makes it more expensive. At some restaurants in Japan customers can enjoy nagashi somen “flowing noodles” that are placed in long open bamboo stalks through which fresh, cold water is flowing. Diners then fish the noodles out of the flow with chopsticks and dip them in a dipping sauce.
Hiyashi Somen Recipe (Serves 2)
< Ingredients>
3-4 bundles dried somen noodles
2-3 green onion/scallion, minced
1 inch ginger, grated
shiso leaves, thinly sliced
myoga ginger, thinly sliced
-Dipping Sauce
You can find the dipping sauce mentsuyu at Japanese grocery stores in the Bay Area. Mentsuyu is usually sold concentrated, so dilute with water before use unless it says “straight” on the package.
< Instructions>
  1. Boil water in a large pot and add somen.
  2. Cook for a minute and strain. Follow the package instructions.
  3. Wash the noodles under running water.
  4. Add somen in a serving boal filled with ice water.
  5. Place green onion and ginger in a small plate.
  6. Serve somen noodles with the dipping sauce and toppings.
  7. Add small portion of ginger and green onions to the dipping sauce. Enjoy the noodles by dipping them in the sauce.

Berkeley / RAMEN NAGI

Butao Original King Luscious Singature Tonkotsu Pork-broth
■パロアルト University Ave から一歩入ったBryant St に6/25にグランドオープンしたラーメン凪。日本では東京・新宿ゴールデン街で友達の店を借りて週に一日ラーメンを最初に提供し始めましたのがきっかけ。国内外で、数々の賞を受賞した濃厚かつさわやかに炊き上げた香り高い自慢のスープは日本から取り寄せた粉で毎朝打った麺との相性が楽しめる。

■Ramen Nagi opened on June 25 just a few steps away from University Avenue in Palo Alto. The chef-owner of Nagi first started serving ramen once a week at his friend’s restaurant in Shinjuku Golden Gai in Japan.
The ramen broth won many awards within and outside of Japan. The mouth-watering rich and aromatic broth combined with freshly made handcrafted noodles forms a perfect combination.
541 Bryant St Palo Alto , CA 94301
Open 7days
Lunch 11am-3pm
Dinner 5:30pm-9:30pm

Cupertino / UZUMAKIYA

OxTail Udon $Soft Opening Price!
■1番人気のOxTail Udon‼︎女性や食材に気を遣う方にもオススメ!ジャパンクオリティを追求している唯一無二のラーメン屋TAKAが手掛けるSouth Bay Area 初のうどん居酒屋UZUMAKIYAのオックステールうどん。

■The famous Ox Tail Udon!! Highly recommended for ladies and the most selective diners. Uzumakiya is the first udon-izakaya in South Bay. It is managed by the one and only ramen-ya Taka that constantly strives to preserve Japanese quality.
Perfectly cooked ox tail is served with a special soup. Currently offered at the soft opening day price. Also, enjoy a wide variety of udon and appetizers.
10789 S Blaney Ave, Cupertino, 95014
(408) 490-4017
Mon Closed
Tue-Thu 6pm - 10pm
Fri-Sat 5:30pm - 10pm
Sun 5pm - 9pm

Santa Cruz / KAITO

Classic Tokyo ramen $ 8.95
■小さな海辺の町サンタクルーズの潮風と共に味わう" 海の潮風コーンバターらーめん " 魚介系をたっぷりと使い、豚・鳥・野菜を品よく取り合わせたガツンとではないコツンとやわらかい味のスープ。盛り盛りのコーンにたっぷりのバターが塩の風味にとけあってやさしく懐かしい感じのするラーメンです。シンプルながらコクと深みのあるスープに、さらに味玉や豚の大粒ミンチ肉を使った甘辛ジャージャーミートをエキストラトッピングすると、海の深みグランブルーの世界を味わうことになるかも知れません。

■Located in a small coastal town of Santa Cruz, restaurant Kaito is offering a special “Sea breeze corn butter ramen.” Ramen soup is a delicate combination of seafood, pork, chicken and vegetables. Generous amount of corn, butter and salty broth make a heartwarming meal. Try this simple yet rich broth with extra toppings such as ajitama (soft-boiled egg marinated in soy and mirin) or JAJA meat ( spicy ground pork ).
Ramen, Sushi, and more...海人/KAITO
830 41st. Ave , Santa Cruz , CA 95062
Mon Closed
Tue-Sun 12:00pm - 2:30pm, 5:00pm - 9:00pm

Yamachan Ramen School

Things you should know about Opening a Ramen Restaurant

In the midst of boiling ramen boom Yamachan Ramen offers classes for aspiring ramen shop owners and those wishing to become professional ramen chefs. At Yamachan Ramen School, students will learn from a skillful chef with fourteen years of experience running a ramen shop in San Jose.

The school is currently offering a short three-hour class and a five-day workshop (8 hours / day) to meet the students learning goals. The students will learn about ramen broth, seasoning, flavoring, toppings (chashu, boiled egg, bamboo shoots) and condiments, and learn the secrets of establishing a successful restaurant. The class size is up to five students with copious individual interaction between students and teacher.

Many students from the Bay Area and all over the country has successfully graduated from Yamachan Ramen School.

Yamachan Ramen
For the details:
For inquiries: