A few weeks ago San Francisco was colder than it had been in some time. The frigid temperatures lasted about a week and a half, and right around that time I was reading about Katana-Ya everywhere. Everyone wanted to proclaim it their favorite ramen place in San Francisco. I already love ramen but with the cold I couldn’t stop thinking about Katana-Ya; what could be more perfect on a wintry day than a hot bowl of noodle soup? So I thought about it and thought about it and then it got warmer and I still hadn’t gone for ramen. When I was meeting my friends Jessie and Justin for lunch it was still on my mind, so I suggested we go there, even though my enthusiasm had waned a bit as I traded my wool coat in for a light flannel shirt.
It did end up being pretty chilly that day, though not terribly so. The cold was probably amplified by the fact that we waited outside the restaurant for nearly an hour. Katana-Ya is pretty tiny and I guess they have more seating for parties of two than for parties of three. We were the second party of three on the waiting sheet and there must have been at least four or five couples who were seated before the group of three ahead of us got in. So I guess expect a wait, especially if you’re more than two people strong. The time went by fairly quickly because I had good company; so lucky me.
We finally made it in! I don’t know how well you can tell from this picture, but it’s a small place. We were seated right near the door, and that wall with the clock is the back of the dining room. I didn’t get a good sense of exactly how many seats there were, but I’d be surprised if there were more than 30.
The menu was pretty extensive, but I knew that I wanted ramen. I was originally considering the kimchee ramen, but I’d been pretty kimchi crazy around that time. I had made a big jar of the stuff and was stuffing my face with tons of it everyday. I figured I’d have a bit of a change of pace and go with the green onion ramen.
It was pretty good. I kind of wished that I’d ordered something more exciting, but there was some liveliness from bamboo shoots and pork. You choose between three broths with your ramen, and I went with the salt on Justin’s recommendation. It was good, pretty salty (duh), but next time I’d probably go for the miso broth. I like that little bit of sweetness. As for the noodles, they were pretty near perfect. Tender but not soft, very fresh with a nice wheaty flavor. I’m looking forward to eating them again.
Justin had the chicken curry, which came with miso soup. It smelled really good and made me kind of jealous.
Jessie said he was going to be boring and get the same thing he always gets; udon with tempura. Sorry for the kind of crudz picture, it looks good though, right? I just ate like 6 potstickers and those noodles are still making me kinda hungry. Sorry, just being real with y’all.
So, Katana-Ya has a lot of strikes against it, I can’t lie. It’s tiny, you might have a long wait to get in, they have banquettes which I hate hate hate. I just despise that long bench with at least one too many tables stretched along it. Katana-Ya is the kind of place that makes me worried about how big my ass is, because I’m pretty sure it’s too big and will be knocking the donburi off the table next to me into someone’s lap when I squeeze between tables to leave. So there’s that. Still, the food is pretty darn good, and that can’t be denied. So the next time the cold snap hits San Francisco, chances are good you’ll find me at some off hour (2:45 PM maybe?) slurping up noodles at Katana-Ya.