Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Review: Waraku, San Francisco

Our attempt to eat at all the ramen restaurants in Japantown, San Francisco continues and Waraku is an excellent staple with a slightly more upscale feel than the other offerings in the neighbourhood.

Waraku is definitely the kind of place you want to go to for a mid week meal or in the afternoon. The decor is wonderful and the staff attentive but the place can get very busy and I feel like they've added too many tables. This is definitely not a place for a first date, I feel like sometimes I am sitting at a table with strangers and I find their conversation invasive. Being only about a block from the Peacetown mall this is a surprisingly easy oasis during events in Japantown.

The food at Waraku has a limited menu but absolutely everything we've had there has been wonderful; so long as you're not after Vegetarian food.

Hanetsuki Gyoza $4.50USD

Thin skinned pork and vegetable dumplings are cooked in a way that causes a skin to form allowing you to play pull apart games with your friends. Good fun with good dumplings. 

Hiyayakko $4.50USD

Cold tofu is topped with generous amounts of ginger, scallion, dried nori and bonito. The tofu is obviously made fresh and has the telltale cottage look of air throughout. I would have preferred a slightly smoother tofu but one cannot knock fresh tofu in the US and this is a very good dish. 

Karaage $5.00USD

The ubiquitous fried chicken snack in a sesame and soy batter. This version is crisp and crunchy and not too oily. Thankfully the serves are also on the small side so you don't find yourself eating a day's worth of calories in one dish. 

Tofu salad $7.00USD

When I ordered the Tofu salad I was expecting a side dsish but instead a huge platter of tofu and greens came out. Served in a toasted sesame (goma) vinaigrette and simply covered in cubes of the freshly made tofu. Good for those avoiding the fried food. 

Kakuni-don $4.50USD

Small rice bowls can be bought on the lunch menu that are not much larger than a soup bowl and perfect for tasting a few things on the menue. This one is kakuni which is a braised fatty pork belly seasoned and topped with scallions.

Shoyu chashu ramen $10USD

A plain soy ramen served with wilted spinach, bamboo shoots, pork and egg. The noodles are a good quality chewy egg noodle. Tonkotsu (pork bone) soup is available for those who like a meatier soup and I find that this is the best broth of any of the ramen offerings in Japantown. If one could combine this soup with the noodles from Sapporo-ya you might almost have the perfect local ramen. 

They also offer a tsukemen tonkotsu version with the noodles on the side with a thicker soup for dipping for $9USD. Additional toppings like pork, mushrooms, sprouts and tofu can be added for $1-3USD. Their spicy miso ball (50c) can be added to any soup and is highly recommended for those who like a stronger ramen.

Tantanmen $9.00USD

Tantanmen is my all time favourite noodle dish and unfortunately Waraku only serves it during the colder months. Minced pork is fried in a sweet and savoury seasoning and served in a spicy sesame tonkotsu broth with coriander smoked egg.

The noodles are decent, the broths are good but the real star of this restaurant is the smoked soft boiled egg, order two it's worth it. Boiled to  soft gelatinous perfection you get one in the ramens but an extra can be ordered for $1USD or as a canape on their own for $4.50USD.


1638 Post St
San Francisco, CA 94115

Upscale ramen eatery in Japantown, San Francisco

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