mensho tokyo (sf location)
There is perhaps no other ramen shop that saw such a highly anticipated opening in San Francisco than Mensho Tokyo, also known as Menya Shono in Japan. Immediately after news broke on the scene over a year ago that this esteemed, Japanese ramen shop would be opening its doors stateside in San Francisco (not to mention down the street from where I live!), I started obsessively refreshing their website for a final open date. The opening was originally slated for May 2015 but did not open until recently on February 6th 2016.
After months of being strung along and diligently rescheduling my calendar alert, I found myself in a boy-who-cried-wolf situation where I started to believe that perhaps Mensho would never open and one day I simply stopped checking their website... Flash forward to February 6th, 2016, around 5pm: I was walking down the street and spotted a long line of people waiting to get into what I thought was an event occurring at neighboring bar, Rye. I then proceeded to mentally mock San Franciscans and their penchant for waiting hours at a time for the latest food craze (myself included), until I realized. IT WAS MENSHO'S OPENING DAY. SHIT. At that moment, I had a deep existential crisis, questioning everything about my ramen credibility.
However, I quickly got over it and was in there by the following week resuming ramen consumption, per usual. I arrived at Mensho Tokyo on a Thursday at around 4:45pm and faced a roughly 40 minute wait, with about 15 parties still in front of us. In the first weeks, the staff weren't allowing diners in at full capacity so as to not overwhelm the kitchen. But after three months after opening, I'm not sure if that's still the case. But if the still-present lines are an indicator, I have a hunch that it still is. It isn't uncommon to hear of people waiting two hours after lining up at around 7pm.
The bright, white-walled interior is decorated with blurbs describing the various components of ramen. A cozy shop, it seats about 25 people at communal tables. The menu features a tori paitan, organic shoyu, shio, and a vegan tantan men. The bowls can run pretty steep, starting at $9 for the shio and upwards of $18 for the tantan men or the tori paitan.
I ordered the tori paitan. It was a broth of intense chicken flavors tinged with hints of duck and pork. The consistency was so thick, so creamy -- thiiiiiiiis close to being actual gravy.
Not lying when I say I live around the corner from Mensho, which gives me no excuse to not try their other bowls. Now that line on the other hand is a different story...