I keep forgetting to put up this post from when I visited the Bay Area a while ago. Ramen Halu in San Jose has been my favorite ramen place since I visited for my birthday two years ago. However, because Berkeley is pretty far from San Jose, I didn’t have a chance to go again before I moved to San Diego. I raved about it so much to S that when we visited the Bay Area, we decided to have lunch there so that he could try it out.
It was definitely a warm day for ramen – I didn’t expect that – but there was still quite a wait for Saturday lunch. The place is pretty tiny.
I had a hard time deciding what I wanted. My friend L swears by the tantan-men, but I also like the Halu original, and the fall special pumpkin ramen, and I wanted to try out the tsukemen since it was a hot day. Finally, I settled on the tantan-men.
I’m no ramen expert, but I wanna say that tantan-men is based on the Chinese “dan dan noodles” (擔擔麵). (Incidentally, I wrote about Spicy City’s dan dan noodles in the previous post.) The soup is their signature tonkotsu broth, mixed with their special shoyu sauce, dashi broth, Japanese vinegar, and white sesame paste and chili oil. The meat is ground pork, cooked with a special miso paste, and other toppings were seasoned bamboo (menma), boiled spinach, green onions, wood ear mushrooms, and a square of seaweed. This was quite a heavy and flavorful bowl of ramen, and it really did remind me of dan dan noodles – particularly because of the sesame paste. If you are in the mood for a huge flavor hit, I definitely recommend the tantan-men. It would have been even better if it was a cold winter day.
The Halu ramen is also tonkotsu-based, blended with shoyu sauce and dashi broth, flavored with onion, ginger, and garlic. According to their webpage, the broth is a mix of rich and clear broth, giving it a unique, deep flavor. Toppings included chashu, seasoned bamboo, green onions, boiled spinach, wood ear mushrooms, and seaweed square. S added a soft-boiled egg for $1. I thought this was pretty good flavors and very similar to Yakyudori’s tonkotsu broth. It’s hard to say which one I preferred, the Halu or tantan-men – really would depend on my mood.
Overall, I really enjoyed my meal at Ramen Halu and would definitely recommend it to anyone looking for ramen in the Southbay area. It is on the pricey side for ramen, but I think the toppings are bit different at what you see in most ramen shops (at least in San Diego). Definitely would be a great place for those cold wintry nights that the Bay Area is supposedly having right now.
375 Saratoga Ave, Suite M, San Jose, CA
Hours: Lunch Mon-Fri 11:30am-2pm; Sat-Sun 11:30am-2:30pm. Dinner Sun-Thu 5:30pm-9pm; Fri-Sat 5:30pm-9:30pm. Closed Tuesday dinner.