There's no place SFoodie won't go to sample a good bowl of ramen -- even if it means mingling with dudes wearing Ralph Lauren cargo shorts and flip-flops in 45-degree weather. Knowing this, we headed to popular Cow Hollow izakaya Chotto. On our first trip, the ramen proved elusive because the kitchen ran out of noodles just two hours after opening. Don't worry, we got the goods on the second visit.
Most people are aware of the basic ramen broth types: shio (salty, clear), shoyu, miso, and tonkotsu (pork bone), but not many know about traditional hybrid blends. Even the famous Santouka ramen is a shio-tonkotsu hybrid. Chotto chef Armando Justo's ramen is a miso-tonkotsu hybrid, a mix of rich porky flavors and full-bodied miso without the residual feeling of heaviness. Now we just need someone to make shoyu-tonkotsu and San Francisco will have it all!
Our ramen bowl ($9) included delectable housemade chasu, ground pork, chives, bean sprouts, menma, and nori. The flavors hit all the right notes. It's satisfying but you're not stuffed, so there's room to sample other menu items. The extensive menu aims to please, but for ramen aficionados one dish misses the mark: buta kakuni. It was charred and dry, the opposite of what you'd expect.
And if you're visiting during happy hour (5-7 p.m.), don't miss the $1 oysters. Served with two types of ponzu sauce (shoyu and yuzu), better than any standard cocktail or vinegar mignonette sauce. For more details on Chotto's izakaya fare, check out Jonathan Kauffman's review.
Chotto: 3317 Steiner (at Chestnut), 441-2223. Sun.-Thu. 5:30-11 p.m.; Fri.-Sat. 5:30 p.m.-1 a.m.