Castro Street in Mountain View is full of bustling ethnic shops that lure in foodies who want to taste new cuisines. Ramen Izakaya Yu-Gen, a Japanese ramen shop on Castro, may be the shining star of the street’s palate. Combining delicious meals with an informal atmosphere, Ramen Izakaya Yu-Gen is one of the best Asian restaurants on the peninsula.
The restaurant’s menu is relatively small, as the main meals are ramen-based. However, the scrumptious food makes up for the moderate options. The dumplings are a splendid appetizer as they are grilled to a perfection, and aren’t overly-savory. The chicken ramen, which combines fresh vegetables, a hardboiled egg and chicken, is a delectable choice. Even the broth is seasoned and served piping hot.
Ramen Izakaya Yu-Gen’s dip ramen is also mouthwatering, but buy it quickly as the restaurant only sells ten of these soups each day. It’s not difficult to see why they are so popular: The sizzling pork combines with the seasoned broth to create a wonderful concoction.
The prices are all average, with ramen running from roughly $10-12. All of the meals served large portions so the prices matched the meals. The only downside to the restaurant was the service – It took me ten minutes to be seated by the staff (despite there being an open table the entire time). It also took nearly 30 minutes for simple food to be delivered. The waiters were relatively friendly but never offered to refill our glasses of water.
The restaurant’s size is small, meaning many tables are crowded relatively close together. However, the atmosphere is laid-back and shows off its Japanese roots with a stunning selection of Japanese spirits.
Ramen Izakaya Yu-Gen’s food is hard to beat, with filling meals and warm soups. If (or when!) you go, however, bring a book–may be waiting for a while.
Photos by Vivian Wu