202 East 2nd Ave (Near Ellsworth)
San Mateo, CA 94401
Himawari is a Japanese Ramen Noodle house located in downtown San Mateo. Every block down here has a Japanese restaurant. Their chief rival, a couple miles away, is the legendary Santa Ramen along with its sister Ramen restaurants. They have a broader menu than Santa Ramen, with Rice Bowls, lots of appetizers, and many ramen options. We came on hot day and noted no air conditioning, just ceiling fans cranked up. Last visit October 2012.
Decor, Vibe – Himawari has modern Decor with sheet metal on the wall, lots of jazz lp’s lining the place, nice pendant lighting, and counter area in the back. The place was packed with mostly Asians in their 20’s and 30’s, and some families.
Himawari Menu Pictures (Click to zoom into any picture)
Salt Ramen ($8) with ocean salt flavor, roasted pork, bamboo stems, green onions. The ramen was crunchier than Santa’s probably due to the egg in this one. The broth was fairly plain and the pork was pretty good, almost like Santa’s. 2012 update, They buy the noodles and have switched from some egg free versions a couple months ago. Noodles are crisp, almost like Hong Kong style noodles.
Deluxe Ramen ($11.50) Soy flavored broth with stewed pork, egg, bean sprouts had a nice broth flavor but was no very thick. The stewed pork was really fatty, chunk, and not thoroughly cooked, causing it to lag Santa’s version. Two slices of roasted pork, bamboo stems, and Japanese spring onion. Egg was fully cooked. Lots of fat floating around.
Pork Fried Rice ($8.50) had tons of chopped pork. A decent version with a bit of egg and chopped lettuce.
Japanese style Pork Curry Rice ($8.50) was mild and hit the spot. Smooth curry and bundled with a small salad.
Hotate & Namahamu ($8.50) was three seared scallops with prosciutto wrapped around it. It had a good amount of robata grill flavor to it. Not great, but edible.
Chicken Teriyaki Don ($8.50) is chicken teriyaki over rice. Lots of fair quality chicken but a thick and strong teriyaki sauce. The included seaweed soup was way too salty.
Yasai Itame ($5.50) sauteed pork and vegetables was more like chop suey with a bit of pork. Watery, good for vegetarians with no choice.
Himawari had decent service, with refills and ordering being effortless. Food prices are reasonable, but we feel Santa Ramen retains the crown. This is a good place if you are looking for a low cost meal in downtown San Mateo.