"Wish You Happy Every Day": An Expat's Life in China

美味周末/Delicious Weekends: Sobo Ramen
June 28, 2015, 8:12 am
Filed under: Asia abroad, 美味周末/Delicious Weekends, food | Tags: ,

Hooray for the first entry of a new series I’m starting, called 美味周末 (meiwei zhoumo), which translates to “Delicious Weekends.” Disclaimer: I’m no cook. My dad was a great cook and used to give me tasks in the kitchen, but unfortunately being his sous chef didn’t impart any great skills in the kitchen onto me. BUT . . . I love food, and I especially love Chinese food, and I know a few things about it that I can pass on to you. And if all else fails, there are restaurants.

It should come as no surprise that the first installment of Delicious Weekends is going to feature a restaurant.

OK, fine, it’s not even a Chinese restaurant. It’s Japanese. It’s RAMEN! And not just any kind of ramen. Savory, flavorful ramen, worthy of every appreciative slurp. Sayonara, Ajisen. Hello, Sobo Ramen!

Sobo Ramen1

We got to Sobo Ramen at five to five to join the queue of people waiting for it to open. That made us realize that, yes, we are hardcore ramen fans. The owners should really consider opening a fan club and offer discounts . . . as it is, we’ve already started a Sobo Ramen budget . . . ahem.

Eating at Sobo Ramen feels like bypassing customs and settling in a little slice of Asia. Everything is graced with an orderly, geometric design. I love that each wooden table is equipped with a glass of chopsticks, also made of wood.

We each ordered the Tonkotsu Ramen with Mayu, a homemade broth of miso and black garlic oil that comes with tea tree mushrooms, half of a boiled egg, sliced pork, bean sprouts, spring onion and sesame seeds. Yum!

Sobo Ramen2

The real fun comes when you adorn your ramen with various delicious accouterments. Quail eggs, a common addition to noodle soups in China, are a must. I’ve yet to find them at other restaurants here in the States. Another recommendation is the fried garlic, which Lipeng chose. Because I’m trying to up my vegetable intake, I added bamboo, baby bok choy, and, to appease my ever-grumbling health conscience, kale. Now, my loathing for kale is legendary among my friends. I’m baffled by all the hype. I once saw a kale restaurant in Manhattan and wondered if I’d entered some kind of Murakami-esque alternate universe. I mean, do they actually get enough customers to pay the rent? What kind of person thinks, Oh boy! A kale restaurant! Yum! But it turns out that, once it’s been soaked in miso and garlic oil, even kale can transcend its own wretched banality.

Anyway . . . Although I haven’t tried the other ramen choices on the menu, they do sound intriguing. One of the specials is lobster ramen. They also have Tsukemen Ramen, in which all parts of the dish are disassembled so that you can dip each item into the broth. Sounds potentially messy, but I’ve heard it’s good. Another time, we also tried their pan fried crab dumplings . . . mmm!

Where is Sobo Ramen, you ask? Japantown? Somewhere supposedly hip, like the Haight? Wrong. It’s in Oakland, a few minutes walk from 12th Street BART. Take that, SF!

To sum up: ramen budget. You’ll need it.