Santa Ramen Review, San Mateo

Reviewer: Foodnut.com

Santa Ramen

1944 S El Camino Real

San Mateo, CA 94403

(650) 344-5918

New Santa Ramen Menu September 2017

Santa Ramen San Mateo Exterior

Santa Ramen is a very popular Japanese noodle Ramen restaurant in San Mateo. Kazunori Kobayashi is the proprietor of this restaurant along with 2 others in the same city. Located in a small shopping mall with a Diddams Ninja Japanese supermarket, Party Supply and JoAnn’s Fabric, the restaurant has achieved a legendary cult following and has long lines at both dinner and lunch times. We have eaten here many times with our last visit in Fall 2017.

Santa Ramen San Mateo Interior

The parking lot has got more busy and treacherous over the years. With the addition of Seapot All you can eat Chinese hot put, this center is really hopping.

Be sure to check out our first encounter with legendary ramen in Tokyo.

There is almost always a line even before the place opens.  You should arrive about 15 minutes before it opens to ensure you get a seat, otherwise come late and be prepared to wait.  Lines have grown shorter over the years. The main draw is the tasty ramen noodles in various broths. If you are not into noodles, avoid this place. There are no vegetarian options.

Santa Ramen Decor

Basic sparsely decorated  strip mall location with bamboo accents, Japanese liquor posters, and counter seating in the back. They updated it in September 2017.

Santa Ramen Menu

Santa Ramen San Mateo Menu 2017

Three types of broth for ramen is the main choice. Santa Ramen later added Pork Cheek and Stewed Pork variations. Differing levels of spiciness are available as are Extra toppings. Tea is complimentary so be sure to ask for it. Santa Ramen limited dessert options. In 2017 they changed the menu slightly and raised prices.

Santa Ramen Picks:

Santa Ramen San Mateo Soy Sauce Ramen

Soy Sauce flavor Classic Ramen ($11.50) with roasted pork (2pcs), ground chicken, bean sprouts, baby spinach, roasted seaweed. Broth has a heavy soy sauce flavor but does not look like dark soy sauce. This is not instant ramen but lacks eggs unlike most other places.

Decent quantities of noodles but many with larger appetites, order it as we do with extra noodles ($1.50) and extra pork ($1.50 for 2pc) or order an appetizer with it.  The noodles are fresh and hot out of the kitchen. The broth is probably one of the better ones around, with the noodles being solid. Noodles are on the al dente side. The roasted pork reminds us of old Swanson’s pork TV dinners. Comfort food for some.

Santa Ramen San Mateo stewed pork ramen

Add a piece of the legendary Stewed Pork Belly ($4.95).  It is a tender, flaky, fatty pork that has been slowly stewed a long time. Best served on the side to maximize flavor. Stewed pork is may be an acquired taste for some. This cost $4.50 for 2 pieces before the price increase.

Santa Ramen San Mateo Pork Flavored Ramen

Pork Flavored Classic Ramen ($11.50) with seaweed, roasted pork (2pcs), green onions, kikurage mushrooms. They added chopped chicken and raised the price in 2017. Another fairly low cost meal. We prefer the pork flavored broth to the other ones, but this is a matter of taste. A favorite of ours.

Pork Cheek meat Ramen ($13.50) comes with Stewed pork cheek meat (1pc), premium roasted pork (2pcs), Quail eggs (2pcs) fried onion with chili oil, mixed vegetables (bean sprouts, cabbage, green chives, kikurage mushrooms, shredded red peppers), and roasted seaweed. At a $2 premium over the classic ramen and containing a lot more goodies, this is clearly a better value.

The pork cheek is a single piece of meat that is a bit chewy and fatty, it is personal preference whether to order this, the stewed pork, or the normal pork. It also includes premium roasted pork that has a bit more flavor but is less tender. We preferred the classic pork meat ourselves.

Miso Flavored Broth Classic Ramen ($11.50) with roasted pork, ground chicken, bean sprouts, baby spinach, roasted seaweed. A bit of zestiness from chili flakes.  Steaming hot broth makes it hard to slurp it down. This broth is miso soup-like but not too thick. The Miso version uses a heavier broth that feels a bit powdery to the tongue.

OK:

None

Pans:

Grilled Whole Squid ($7.50) is simple and tasty.  Sometimes it is grilled too long and tastes like Robata grill charcoal.

Grilled Chicken wings ($4.75) are just too charcoal grilled flavored to be good. Also there isn’t much meat. Grilled corn is the same.

The draw at Santa Ramen is clearly the ramen noodles. It is unusual that this home made ramen does not contain eggs. The service here is just adequate. It can take almost 30 minutes to get your ramen during peak times, once you order. Santa Ramen is not a place where you linger.

Be warned that they start running out of some broths or stewed pork around 830pm, so do not come too late. The chalk board in the front shows what has run out.

Most people are out in 45 minutes, as the people in line ‘pressure’ you to leave by staring. 90% of the people in this restaurant are of Asian descent.

Santa Ramen runs the spicy ramen joint Ramen Dojo in their old location and Ramen Parlor. Many people prefer Santa Ramen over less crowded sister location Ramen Parlor. Ramen Dojo has obtained cult like status and has people lining up 30 minutes to an hour before they open for their stamina ramen. All 3 serve use slightly different noodles and broth.

An other arguably better Ramen house is Ramen Halu in San Jose, but you are splitting hairs at this point. If you are a ramen fan, also try top rated Ramen Santouka in San Jose.

Santa Ramen Overall Rating: (Good 2)

Come Back?

Food Rating: (Very Good)
Service Rating: (Good)
Atmosphere Rating: (Good)
Value Rating: (Excellent)

Guide: 0 = poor, 1 = Below/Average, 2 = Good, 2.5 = Very Good, 3 = Excellent , 4 = Extraordinary

Alcohol:Beer, Wine, Sake
Attire:Casual
Hours:M,W-Sun 1130am-2pm. M,W-Sun 530-9:30pm.
Parking:Lot
Reservations:No
Prices:$7.95

You Might Also Like

8 Comments

  • Ramen Club Restaurant Review Burlingame 94010 | Foodnut.com
    September 23, 2008 at 12:14 pm

    […] you, the best time to visit would be during lunch. You’ll get a lot of bang for the buck. Santa Ramen is the place to go if you want top notch […]

  • Noodle Theory Restaurant Review, San Francisco, 94123 | Foodnut.com
    June 29, 2009 at 12:01 am

    […] this place but warn that many items are on the spicy side. Compared to noodle legends like Santa Ramen in San Mateo, the broth, meat, and noodles are not on the authentic side.  This environment is far […]

  • Himawari Restaurant Review, San Mateo, Japanese Food | Foodnut.com
    September 18, 2009 at 12:04 am

    […] block down here has a Japanese restaurant. Their chief rival a couple miles away is the legendary Santa Ramen. They have a broader menu than Santa Ramen, with Rice Bowls, lots of appetizers, and many ramen […]

  • Wagamama Restaurant Review, London, UK, Japanese Restaurant | Foodnut.com
    September 27, 2009 at 12:05 am

    […] wakame and seasonal greens was a solid bowl of ramen. The broth and noodles do not hold a candle to Santa Ramen, but they hit the spot for a quick meal. It was garnished with menma and spring […]

  • Ramen Santouka, San Jose | Foodnut.com
    May 28, 2010 at 12:01 am

    […] up and get it, no service here. The noodles are excellent here, some of the best in the Bay Area. Santa Ramen in San Mateo may have lost the crown. If your noodle fanatic be sure to visit this place. Be warned […]

  • Ramen Dojo, San Mateo | Foodnut.com
    June 9, 2010 at 12:02 pm

    […] Dojo recently opened in San Mateo at legendary Santa Ramen’s original location, no doubt hoping to capture some of its good karma. In fact it’s owned by […]

  • Ramen Parlor, San Mateo | Foodnut.com
    March 16, 2012 at 8:00 am

    […] did we dine here? – Ramen Parlor is the third location in San Mateo from the legendary Santa Ramen folks. It is located one block from the original Santa Ramen, which now houses the very popular […]

  • Maru Ichi, Mountain View | Foodnut.com
    June 15, 2012 at 9:21 pm

    […] to legendary Santa Ramen in San Mateo, Maru Ichi  has more variety and is definitely in the same class quality wise. It all […]

Leave a Reply