UMAMI MART MATSURI FESTIVAL
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Happy February, everyone!

Umamimart turns 5 years old this month, and I thought it would be fun to celebrate NOODLES! We're all fans of noodles here, and there are pages and pages worth of posts, since 2007 (!), dedicated to the almighty noodle on Umamimart.

The column name "Great UM Noodletown" is an homage to one of my favorite late-night spots in NYC Chinatown called Great NY Noodletown. With roasted birds dangling from the windows, I had many a meals there--both solitary and rowdy--all on the dirt cheap, with slices of oranges always for dessert. Thank you, Great NY Noodletown. You hold a special place in my heart.

To start off the column with a big bang, I give to you Misoya, a ramen chain from Japan that has made its way to Santa Clara, CA. The first U.S. outpost opened in the East Village, NYC (looks like the owner of Totto brought it over). It's right around the corner from Ippudo, a mega-popular ramen joint, but I hope it's holding its ground there regardless. Personally, I think Ippudo is garbage and I absolutely cannot believe there are still lines to get in. I mean $15 for a bowl of ramen in a techno-club setting?? No thank you. Yamahomo bitched about it when it first opened. We have not been back since.

Anyhow, here's Misoya, set in a strip mall right across the street from a hospital in sunny Santa Clara, CA. Welcome to the sprawling suburban nightmare that is my childhood. But you know I love it!

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I think it's hilarious that the South Bay Area (San Jose, Santa Clara, Cupertino, Mt. View) has all the awesome Asian eateries, rather than SF proper. [Sorta like having to go to boondocks Queens from Manhattan]. I have to say that it's testament to the fact that the audience in the South Bay just has higher standards for Asian food. I'll get a lashing for saying that, of course. But it's true!!! Dim sum, Viet, sushi. Alright, I admit, the East Bay has superb Korean and Thai though.

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Miso. Soul. Japan. Holla!

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Don't you dare seat yourself, asshole.

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I always come early enough so there's never a line. You get a view into the kitchen from the counter.

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Hungry. The bowl of rice is FREE! Carbs with a side of carbs, please!

Misoya is known for... wait for it... their MISO ramen.

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The miso broth here is komemiso, which is a Hokkaido-style, darker blend with a hint of spice. They put a dollop of the komemiso on top.

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Soup is deep and hearty.

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Grease bubbles are muy importante.

Noodles are bouncy and squiggly, just how I like.

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It is imperative that you order the cha-shu pork ramen. I ordered the regular ramen once, thinking that it would come with the standard two slices. WRONG. That was a sad, sad day.

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They boast that this cha-shu is special because of the way it is grilled over an open flame. It is the fattiest piece of pork you will have for the week, but well worth it.

Now this puzzled me: the fried potatoes in my ramen.

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This must be a Hokkaido thing? The Tokyo-girl (ok, Saitama) in me shuddered a little bit.

The gyoza were chive-y pork bombs. I peeped a guy in the kitchen making them from scratch.

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Delightful!

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So I didn't finish my potato, but did pretty well otherwise.

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The ramen was $11, gyoza $4. Not bad!

The ramen at Misoya is a damn fine bowl of noodles. While I will refrain from using declarative statements like "Best in the Bay", I will say that this is the CLOSEST you will get to the ramen you will find in Japan. This means: hearty, heavy, greasy broth, which is all the rage in Tokyo. Not surprising that Misoya was started in Chiba, which is where I had a great bowl of ramen at Tonikaku, on my last trip.

Washi calls most ramen he has here generally as "California Ramen". This means an assari (light), clean, broth. Most ramen broths you find in the Bay Area are definitely light and seemingly "healthy", California-esque. Don't get me wrong, I like an assari, salt-based broth, but I have to say that my go-to has always been miso.

Misoya is located right across from Orenchi, which is always packed for some reason. Skip the line and just walk across the street! I am happy to have found a great miso ramen, even if I have to drive 45 minutes for it.

I'll be writing about noodles all month! All year! Forever! Comment below if you have a noodle spot you love. And thank you for supporting Umamimart all these years!