Mensho San Francisco: Nishi-Shinjuku


One of an small chain of ramen shops noted for their inventive recipes, this branch of Mensho specializes in tori paitan (creamy chicken stock) ramen. The beige-colored soup is light and refreshing, with creamy soy milk balanced by a bit of tart lemon. The most popular variety – cheese paitan – comes topped with a big mound of grated cheese that gradually turns gooey as it melts into the soup.

Other offerings include a bowl topped with A5-grade wagyu beef, and a chilled corn ramen. Their chive-heavy gyoza dumplings make a tasty side dish, and they also serve an add-on of risotto and pickles for Y50. The risotto is rather plain in flavor, and serves mainly as a source of supplementary carbs if you’re feeling especially hungry.

Although the chain started out in Tokyo, they opened an enormously successful shop in San Francisco a few years back, and this Shinjuku branch attempts to bring some of the most popular California dishes back to Tokyo. This may explain some of the more unusual menu items, such as their kale salad.

More spacious and attractively appointed than your typical ramen-ya, Mensho is furnished with a wrap-around counter plus several tables to accommodate groups. The vending machine has English-language instructions but it’s cash-only; alternatively you can order at the front counter in Japanese and use credit cards or electronic payment. …continue reading