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Learn where to find the best ramen in San Diego from traditional thick, rich tonkotsu broth to spicy, meaty tantan ramen, to creative new flavors like duck and uni ramen. These ramen shops are sure to satisfy that ramen craving!
Gone are those college years of Cup 'O Noodles and Maruchan Instant noodle. Today's ramen consists of fresh made noodles, broth simmered for hours upon hours, seasoned soft boiled eggs, pork belly, among many other tasty ingredients.
Lately, I have been on the hunt for the best ramen in San Diego - and these SD ramen shops have proven to be the ultimate in both traditional and unique ramen.
1. Tajima Ramen
Tajima has been considered one of the top ramen shops in San Diego since their opening in 2001, with 8 locations now. One of my favorite things about Tajima (well, besides the delicious broth) is the option to select thick or thin noodles. Tonkotsu broth (Tajima's claim to fame) is traditionally served with thinner noodles, but man am I a sucker for those thick, chewy noodles.
The fried garlic served in the Tajima ramen (tonkotsu) is amazing. The pork chashu is crisped on the outside and perfectly melt-in-your-mouth tender, as is the pork belly.
They also make an incredible chicken ramen; a creamy chicken broth with just the perfect hint of sweet. The spicy sesame ramen (tantan - a Chinese influenced style of ramen) is also deliciously spicy and meaty, with the perfect amount of tongue burning spice.
On top of serving a great bowl of ramen, if you are here after 5:30 PM, they serve some awesome yakitori, which is always a good time! They have an option to order a small size ramen here, which is great if you're planning on partaking in the yakitori goodness as well. The seasoned eggs do not disappoint, nor do the perfectly cooked noodles.
Served with a light, but incredibly flavorful broth, the Shio ramen is perfect, not overly salty or fatty. The sweetness of the corn and bamboo shoots are a perfect complement to the savory broth. The tonkotsu and miso broths are also quite good, rich and packed full of umami flavor.
A somewhat trendy spot smack dab in the middle of Hillcrest, this ramen shop/bar serves up a trendier version of the beloved soup. The tonkotsu broth is lighter than some of the other ramen shops, however, still packed a good bit of flavor.
The special tonkotsu ramen came with a chicken yakitori skewer, pork belly, black garlic oil, half a seasoned egg, enoki mushroom, corn, and a pork dumpling. Tender, meaty, and cooked to perfection, there was a very generous serving of pork belly!
The spicy seafood ramen is also a must try. The broth is deep and flavorful, with just the right amount of spice and a touch of Korean flavor.
SO. MANY. OPTIONS. Serving both ramen and tsukemen, the menu here is absolutely overwhelming. There are so many different tasty options it is nearly impossible to choose. The tonkotsu broth here is rich and delicious, the soy sauce pickled eggs packed with flavor, and the noodles thick and chewy.
The black garlic oil in the black edition Hakata tonkotsu is absolutely amazing. The pork chashu is melt in your mouth tender and the bamboo shoots have just the right amount of sweet.
There is something for everyone here from your traditional tonkotsu ramen, to oxtail, spicy miso and curry ramen, as well as several vegetarian options.
5. Izakaya Ouan
If you come here, you MUST order the uni ramen. Strike that. You MUST come here and order the uni ramen. No "ifs" about it. It is literally one of the best things I've ever eaten. Served with a delicious helping of uni, salmon roe, mushrooms and thin, perfectly cooked noodles, I just could not get enough of this stuff. The regular size is quite small, so if you're hungry you better order the large. Pork based tonkotsu, the broth is thick and creamy, heavy with that delicious uni flavor.
The piggy ramen and black garlic oil ramen are also wonderful, and as an Izakaya, they also serve some pretty tasty small plates. Try the beef tongue, it's awesome.
6. Beshok Ramen
A newer, trendy spot in downtown San Diego, this is not your typical authentic Japanese ramen bar, having a very strong focus on sake. The seasoned eggs here are outstanding, and the black tonkotsu ramen had a nice charred flavor to it.
The tonkotsu ramen broth was lighter than some others, but had a wonderful flavor. The miso ramen here is one of the best I've had, and the tantan ramen is sweet, spicy, and absolutely wonderful.
One of my all time favorites, this place serves the best kotteri (tonkotsu) broth with black garlic oil. Served with the traditional thinner noodles, super fresh bamboo shoots and absolutely amazing seasoned soft boiled eggs, this amazingly umami broth will keep you coming back again and again.
If tonkotsu is not your thing (I can't even fathom that), they also serve great Shio and Shoyu ramen, made with a chicken and fish broth that are absolutely amazing as well.
Most ramen served here is tonkotsu based, however they do also serve curry, miso, vegetarian, chicken and shio ramen. However, they are known for the tonkotsu, and they offer a wide variety of different bowls such as the Notorious GGG (3 kinds of garlic), basic pork rib chashu, Carnivores Dream and their classic Nishiki ramen.
The short rib ramen was excellent, with delicious broth and perfectly cooked thin homemade noodles.
The black bomb ramen was also delicious, with a thick tasty tonkotsu broth and delicious black garlic oil. I love the addition of corn as it adds a nice sweet component to the dish, and the slow egg was one of the best we have had.
9. Izakaya Masa
A Japanese tapas spot known for their delicious ramen, we ordered the Hakata (tonkotsu) and the Shio. The Hakata was deliciously rich, and topped off with crunchy garlic chips.
The Shio (salt) ramen was tonkotsu based with a deliciously savory salt flavor. The addition of the corn and the bamboo shoots added a delightfully sweet flavor to the ramen (have I already talked about how much I like this?). All in all, they serve a pretty delicious bowl of ramen.
Only serving 3 kinds, Shoyu (soy sauce), Hakata (tonkotsu) and Shio (salt) ramen, all tonkotsu based, this place has really got broth making down pat. I could drink vats of this stuff!
Definitely a bar atmosphere. BUT, they do serve ramen, albeit not your tradition ramen, and it's pretty darn tasty.
They serve a ramen called the belly of the beast which includes whole soft boiled seasoned eggs, oxtail dumplings, smoked brisket and hoisin glazed short ribs served in a tonkotsu broth. The Underbelly ramen is also quite good, with bacon, pork belly and shredded pork.
Heavy on the meats, this place is great for those meat lovers, but they do also serve a couple vegetarian/vegan options.
Famous for their salt (Shio) ramen, which had a very nice flavor, deep and intense, creamy and not overly salty. Cooked to perfection, the noodles were thin, yellow hued, and curly.
The Miso ramen was also good, with a mildly sweet and intensely flavorful broth. The broth here was pretty damn close to perfection. Plus, how fun to pick up some items to cook your own ramen at the market?
12. Menya Ultra
Menya opened it's first location outside of Japan in San Diego just a year or so ago. They currently serve 3 types of ramen; tonkotsu, tan tan men and miso.
Cooked over extremely high heat to extract the delicious umami flavor (no MSG is used in this broth), the tonkotsu broth here is the best I have ever had. Rich, buttery and full of pork flavor, with mild smoky undertones, reminiscent of bacon.
Cooked to perfection, the noodles are freshly made with special wheat flour imported from Hokkaido.
Served with chili oil, spicy sesame, Chinese style fried pork cutlet, seasoned ground pork and their perfectly seasoned eggs, the broth for the tan tan men was also absolutely amazing, as were the seasoned eggs.
My opinion...this is the best ramen in San Diego. Be prepared to wait, there seems to always be a line.
13. Hachi Ramen
We were pretty excited to see this place pop up in Banker's Hill. First off, this is not your traditional Japanese Ramen shop; it is definitely fusion. But that certainly did not detract from its appeal.
The seafood ramen and the duck ramen were absolutely amazing. The seafood ramen included calamari, shrimp and scallops in a tarragon brown butter broth. I could have just drank a bowl of the broth with its buttery goodness.
Served with a thick chicken soy broth with foie gras oil and yuzu pepper, the duck ramen was deliciously rich and comforting. It was the most tender, delicious, melt in your mouth duck slices I have ever had, as well as perfectly thick, chewy noodles.
So if you're ever wondering where to find ramen in San Diego, these San Diego ramen shops are a great place to start to get the best ramen in San Diego.
Where do you think the best ramen in San Diego is? I want to hear your favorites!