Once upon a time, I saw a picture on my Instagram newsfeed of the second-most-bountiful bowl of ramen (the first-most-bountiful being Katana-ya's) I have ever laid eyes on. At that moment, I swore to myself that one day I would have that bowl of ramen, take a picture of it, and then write a blog post about it. As I tapped the geo-tag to determine where this 'Ramen Dojo' was located, I was ecstatic to learn that it was in San Mateo, which is only a half hour drive from where I live, and not in like, Appalachia. But let's be honest, there is no distance far enough to keep me away from the perfect bowl of ramen.
If you have Insta, please check out the #ramendojo hashtag - because their bowls look majestic. And from their nondescript exterior, nobody would ever guess that such a beautiful bowl of ramen would be served up inside. The bowl itself is like a cornucopia of sorts, with toppings aplenty to overwhelm the senses... as well as the rest of the bowl (more on that later).
Standard toppings include: pork slices, one quail egg, kikurage mushrooms, fried garlic cloves, chives, one cabbage leaf, topped with shredded red pepper. My added toppings were: more quail eggs (duh), corn, and nori. There are three soup bases in rotation at Ramen Dojo: soy sauce, garlic pork, and soy bean. I especially enjoyed that there's also the option to go spicy here (mild, regular, or extra spicy).
As I reflect on my experience at Ramen Dojo, I must say I've got some regrets. First of all, I regret hyping up my expectations so much because I think this was a case in which looks were deceiving. The presentation of the ramen was the best I've ever seen, but the actual experience of eating it was... decent. Which brings me to my next regret, the extra toppings. Though I merely got three extra toppings, it felt as if the toppings completely overwhelmed the noodles and broth - both of which should be the stars of the show in my humble opinion. With so much action on the surface of the bowl I completely forgot about the kikurage mushrooms lurking underneath and was almost fatigued to discover them midway through my meal like "...ugh there's more??" Also five slices of nori seems like overkill. Especially when my bowl seemed to skimp on the broth - what a crime! With so many toppings competing for real estate and attention, there was not nearly enough broth to accompany everything in addition to the noodles. Womp womp. Hopefully my experience was an isolated incident because I wanted to love Ramen Dojo so badly. If you get the chance to dine there, please let me know how your experience goes!
In summary, Ramen Dojo gets an A+ for presentation and at $10 a pop, it's a solid bowl of ramen. But they do need to work on their toppings:noodles:broth ratio. Or at least serve their ramen in a larger bowl.