375 South Saratoga Ave.
San Jose, California 95129
Hours: 11:30-1:30pm, 6-9:30pm Mon-Tue and Fri-Sat; 6-9:30pm Thu; 11:30-2pm, 5-8pm Sun; closed Wed
Surf's up at Ramen Halu, a Pacific surfing-themed ramen restaurant in San Jose, where our adventurous band of Ramen Lovers enjoyed numerous bowls of ramen over the Thanksgiving holiday. We were at first discouraged by the large crowd of people waiting outside the restaurant, but as it turned out, they were just waiting for the restaurant to open for the day. If you're planning a visit, make sure you take note of Ramen Halu's non-standard operating hours.
Ramen Halu serves three types of broth. Halu is a rich, dark, pork-flavored broth with thick noodles, Sho-yu is a soy sauce broth with thin noodles, and Shio is a light salty broth with thin noodles. After selecting your broth type, feel free to add on extras like pork, egg, green onions, nori (seaweed), spinach, bamboo, mushrooms, or corn - or, choose from one of Ramen Halu's favorite combinations listed on the menu. If you're feeling indecisive (or very hungry), go for The Works, which comes with an entire plate heaped with a variery of colorful veggie toppings. We especially liked the green onions, which were crunchy and fresh, and the egg boiled in soy sauce, which was perfectly cooked to be just slightly runny on the inside.
The Halu ramen is extremely fragrant and delicious. Flavorful pieces of pork enhance the broth, while veggies provide color to the eye and texture in the mouth. The thicker, chewy noodles are wonderfully complemented to the rich broth and taste reasonably fresh. This is not the choice for a health-conscious consumer - be prepared to see small globules of pork fat floating in the thick and delicious soup. (Note: Ramen Halu's dishes can be ordered with less or more fat and salt.) Nevertheless, the Halu ramen is the restaurant's namesake dish and we can definitely see why!
The Sho-yu ramen is not as fatty as the Halu ramen, but still has a wonderful soy sauce flavor that is quite distinctive without being too salty. The thinner noodles are better suited to this lighter broth and have a delicate yet chewy nature. Feel free to load the Sho-yu ramen with lots of toppings if you want the broth to have some extra texture, since it is a much thinner liquid than the Halu broth.
The Shio ramen is the lightest of the three and is probably a good choice for someone who is looking to experience the flavors of the noodles and toppings on their own. The thin noodles are identical to the ones in the Sho-yu ramen. After tasting both the Halu and Sho-yu broths, the Shio seemed fairly bland, but is well-suited to a healthier and subtle palate and very tasty on its own. (Note: picture is taken before The Works are added.)
Portion size is generous for a single person. Prices are steep compared to other ramen restaurants (The Works will set you back around $13), but the quality of the ingredients makes up for at least some of the price difference. On the basic ramen, the extra toppings are generally one dollar each, which can add up quickly if you're going for variety. However, the chef is generous with the toppings, so you'll at least be getting a decent amount added for each topping!
Tuesday, November 29, 2005