Kumako Ramen – San Jose, CA

Japantown reveals a plethora of Japanese restaurant and cute little shops. Not to mention a coffee shop, grocery store, a store dedicated to Tofu and a Korean restaurant. Unlike other “Japantowns”, this one is San Jose is quite small, spanning a couple blocks or so.

Kumako is situated right in the centre of it all. Distinguished by their “mascot” bear on the signage. Opened in 2006 by Arthur Kunimoto. He calls it “New York Style” ramen and boasts noodles that are specially made for Kumako~

The interior is very small, fitting only 7 tables and a handful of bar seating.

I was not sure what NY style ramen meant till I got there and peruse the menu. Menu was not very extensive, but has enough choices to suit a variety of tastebuds. There was appetisers, rice bowls/plates, ramen and alcoholic beverages.

There was the usual Tonkotsu and Miso ramen commonly seen at other establishments, but also a few “creative” ones likes, Mapo Ramen, Curry ramen, Crab ramen and Duck ramen.

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We ordered:

Una Don $4

I enjoyed this immensely. It was served piping hot, which I greatly appreciate.  The unagi was cut into 3 thick slices. They were tender & moist and glazed in a thick sweet salty sauce. One of the simplest way to serve unagi but if done wrong could be a huge disappointment. This was perfection, served over nicely cooked rice.

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Mapo Ramen $10.95

I could not resist ordering this; purely out of curiousity and I am actually quite partial to mapo tofu.

Noodles were reminiscent of the Chinese egg noodles (sans the chemical aftertaste) but chewier. The broth definitely tasted like the traditional mapo tofu – spicy, salty and a little tangy. The tofu was a tad tasteless but maintained its smooth soft consistency (signs that it was not overdone). I didn’t care much for the bits of ground pork that were grainy, but there really isn’t a good way to cook ground pork in soup.

Broth did get a tad salty mid way through the meal, which is quite typical for ramen so I didn’t mind it too much but it was also very one dimensional. Flavours were not very developed so only the “salt” was prominent.

Noodles cooked well, with a bit of a bite left to them.

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Tonkotsu Ramen $9.95

This ramen surprised me. Having chosen the Tonkotsu broth, I expect a full bodied umami porky broth but it was not what was served. This soup was subtle in pork flavour, light and quite refreshing rather than heavy. The dominant flavours were green onions and ginger, not pork. I am undecided about whether I like it or not because it is so far from what I am used to/was expecting.

The pork was not bad. Tender and porky, but 2 tiny pieces did not suffice. Noodles were cooked well, with a bit of a bite left to them. Not bad, but not as good as the straight silky type, or the thicker curly versions.

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Extras:

Coke $1.50

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Total Damage: $33.60

Personal Rating: 3 out of 5 (Not bad)

Honestly, the ramen was not as good as other more popular joints in San Jose. That being said, it was still decent (with way more interesting choices albeit not traditional). I actually can’t get over how delicious the Una Don was… I might go back just for that and try their other rice plates, but not the ramen.

I am also intrigued by the Duck Ramen I saw advertised on their wall.

The service was good. Quick and efficient, albeit a tad on the cold side… The restaurant was very stuffy and warm, making the meal a tad uncomfortable. We just wanted to eat and get out of there ASAP.

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Kumako Ramen

211 Jackson Street
San Jose, CA 95112

(408) 286 2111

Kumako on Urbanspoon

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