Table manners be damned, it’s time for some slurping.
You know you can’t resist them. Long tender noodles floating seductively in rich, steaming broth.
The craze is real.
Some like it hot and spicy, some like it meaty or creamy, others clear and fragrant.
Whatever your prerogative, the mention of a heaping bowl of noodle soup is enough to get even the most composed salivating. San Francisco’s fog-filled days only fuel the desire.
The world of noodle soups is vast and glorious, and this list hardly scratches the surface, but here are a few of my favorites from SoMa to Sunset.
1.) Hon’s Wun Tun House
648 Kearny St, San Francisco, CA 94108
Representing Chinatown this cash only, hole-in-the-wall ladles out the handmade noodles and wontons (around $5 a bowl). The portions are nothing to write home about, but for the price in on point. The relatively straightforward menu gets complicated when deciding between freshly made rice and egg noodles or dumplings vs. wontons (real weighty decisions). Save yourself the panic and bring a crew so you can get creative mixing and matching. You’ll have to fight for a table at lunch. Service is virtually nonexistent, but the commitment to real deal Cantonese noodle bowls makes the bustling space feel like a comfort. You can also buy the fresh wontons and noodles to take home!
2.) Thai Nghiep Ky Mi Gia
1427 Noriega St, San Francisco, CA 94122
Friday night fixins with no wait, Thai Nghiep is your place. The Outer Sunset is teaming with noodle houses, but this joint has my heart. Between the sweet soy milk, bowls of soup big enough to get lost in and a giant confounding poster of a Russian church it’s hard not to fall in love.
The cilantro chicken broth is bursting with flavor, the noodles are chewy, and the staff is sweet and welcoming. The menu diverts from run-of-the-mill items you see at most noodle soup shops. The House Special #13 is chalk full of exciting goodies (like fish balls and pork kidneys) is perfect for the adventurous. The #7 Braised duck leg is a crowd pleaser. For some extra activity order your soup on the side and get dunking. Nothing is more than $8, but cash is a must.
3.) Mensho Tokyo
672 Geary St, San Francisco, CA 94102, USA
Caution: Mensho will ruin you for ramen. It’s no wonder; Owner Tomoharu Shono is serious about ramen. His love for is even inscribed on the restaurant’s walls.
“The ramen cook pours his love into the ramen. The customer is embraced and moved by that love. This is the definition of true ramen. Ramen is always bubbling with the love of all. Once you have tried true ramen, you will become captivated like the millions of ramen lovers around the world.”
You may have to wait an hour to snag a seat, but when you do, you’ll taste the love in every bite. Their claim to fame is tonkotsu style ramen. A heavy pork broth, with an opaque hue. In addition to their signature soup, they offer tsukemen style (noodles and broth served side by side for dipping), and maze-soba ( dry noodles). The menu is an homage to Shono’s love of ramen, incorporating playful and creative interpretations of the beloved dish.
3378 18th Street, San Francisco CA, 94117
So I know I said Mensho would ruin you for ramen, but you can’t deny the thick, milky bone marrow broth of Ken Ken’s Hakata style ramen. The flavor is so rich, so umami-licious that you can taste every hour it spent simmering on the stove to reach porky perfection. The dark mission dining room alternates menu items from weekends to weekdays. But always feature a soy-marinated, slow cooked egg to get the party started. The yolk is cooked so it oozes ever so slightly, while still being thick and gelatinous (you can see from the photo I added an extra for good measure).
307 Kearny Street, San Francisco, CA 94108
Come 12:00 pm tech workers flock to this FIDI hotspot, known for Japanese style curry. The crowds lining up around the door are one of the only ways to find the nugget sized storefront. The tiny kitchen cranks out made to order plates of delicious curry, and gorgeous chicken katsu, but their noodles are an overlooked delight.
The husband and wife team behind Muracci’s is committed to excellence, taking two days to simmer the thick and savory base perfectly. The amber gravy has a touch of sweetness and just the right amount of heat. Although, the spicy version is its own form of goodness. The spicy beef noodle packs all the curry punch with an oh-so-satisfying slurp. It comes with your choice of ramen, udon or soba noodles, whatever you choose the result is the same. The thumbs up, ear to ear smile of the boy in their logo.