Think of the best bowl of ramen you’ve ever had: chewy, slurpable, flavor-infused noodles in rich, savory broth topped with simmering slices of meat, nori, bean sprouts, scallions and a gooey soft-boiled egg. Now imagine a row of such ramen vendors serving up everything from sweet chashu and tender pork belly to juicy chicken. Welcome to the Ramen Summit, where five of the best ramen shops in the United States will come together to serve their signature noodles to hungry San Franciscans.
The Ramen Summit is part of the annual J-POP Summit, a weekend-long festival celebrating Japanese food and culture on September 9–10. The ramen-focused portion of the festival was launched last year under the direction of Yoshiyuki Maruyama (formerly of Orenchi Beyond).
Noodle enthusiasts can taste a variety of bowls for $8 each from the Bay Area’s most authentic ramen shops (plus Seattle's Yoroshiku). Each restaurant will serve their signature bowl, and no two restaurants will offer the same thing.
Here’s the list of ramen shops who made the cut and what to expect from each one.
Hayes Valley's Nojo will make their first appearance at the Ramen Summit, serving Chicken Paitan Ramen with fluffy chicken tsukune meatballs, daikon sprouts, bamboo shoot, scallion, ginger and yuzu.
A Mission District favorite, Orenchi will serve their creamy Beyond Tonkotsu Ramen with garlic soy sauce, thick noodles, pork belly and fried garlic.
Yoroshiku, one of Seattle’s top ramen shops, will have their Sapporo-style Spicy Miso Ramen with broth made from 25 herbs blended with original miso, chili oil and local ingredients from Washington state.
Marufuku Ramen, based in Japantown, will come armed with their Hakata Tonkotsu Ramen featuring their signature ultra-thin noodles in tonkotsu (pork bone) soup, cooked for over 20 hours.
Hinodeya Ramen, also from Japantown, will serve Pirikara Spicy Dashi Ramen, which was voted the best ramen in Northern Tokyo. Using a flavor base that has been preserved through four generations, this ramen is a special menu item that is not currently available at the restaurant.
J-POP anticipates a large turnout for the Ramen Summit this year and suggests getting a head start if you want to taste through all the bowls.
"We sold over 4,000 bowls of ramen last year,” says J-POP Iiboshi. “Our goal for this year is 5,000 bowls, so we recommend arriving early or coming Sunday to avoid long lines.”
Entry to the event requires J-POP SUMMIT passes which are $35 and can be purchased from the website j-pop.com/tickets.