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Food review: Kumako ramen

By Ella Polak October 13, 2022


Kumako Ramen, located in San Jose’s historic Japantown, is a humble restaurant that offers a large selection of traditional ramen bowls bursting with flavor. Its menu features everything from traditional shoyu and tonkotsu ramen to miso and vegetable broth ramen, along with various low-sodium and vegetarian options. I recently visited the restaurant on a Saturday lunch stop and ordered the tonkotsu ramen with extra charsu pork and egg.


After I was seated at one of the restaurant’s four tables, my order was taken promptly. I could see the meal being assembled behind a counter, rather than prepared in a separate room, which imbued the experience with a feeling of cozy authenticity. The low ambiance and soft chatter gave the space a relaxed atmosphere. After ten minutes, my order arrived in a steaming hot bowl. There were bean sprouts, scallions, bamboo shoots and seaweed perfectly sectioned out over a rich brown broth and marbled pieces of charsu pork. Topping it all off was black garlic oil, a golden runny egg and a piece of narutomaki—a slice of cloud-shaped cured fish with a bright pink swirl inside.


With the first sip of the broth, a deep pork flavor hit me instantly. It was smooth and silky in texture and rich in taste, indicating that it had simmered in the pot for hours. The pieces of seaweed and narutomaki helped balance its strength with an umami taste. The bamboo shoots had a peculiar musky flavor, but the bean sprouts added a pleasant crunch. I also loved the charsu pork; it was perfectly tender and marbled with smoky fat. However, the runny egg was the star of the show. The sweet sap of the yolk had the perfect texture, and the chill of the cold egg was a pleasing contrast to the heat of the broth.


After working through the toppings, I dove into the plentiful serving of egg noodles. As someone who tends to be picky with ramen noodles, I found them surprisingly pleasing. The noodles were thick enough to not slide off my chopsticks but thin enough to not feel out of place in the broth. The ratio of noodles to broth leaned heavily toward the noodles, but the broth’s flavor balanced out the two elements and kept me coming back for more.


I would highly recommend stopping by the restaurant for a memorable and delicious meal. The bowls of ramen are the ideal size and the ramen comes piping hot. My only warning is to avoid coming during rush hour. By the time I left, there was a winding line of people waiting for a table outside. Kumako Ramen is the best ramen place I have tried in the Bay Area and it is definitely worth a visit.


5/5

Positives:

Filling portions

Small and cozy space

Memorable flavor profile

Reasonable base cost

Fast and attentive service


Negatives:

Long wait time during rush hour


 

About the Contributors


Ella Polak

Staff Writer

Ella Polak is a sophomore at Leland High School and a staff writer for The Charger Account. She enjoys reading, volunteering, and gardening in her free time.

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