Veering off of San Rafael’s main avenue onto 4th street, a sign covered by red and orange leaves displays the name Yuzu Ramen and Taproom. With an outside patio, indoor-outdoor dining space and large paneled windows, the modern restaurant looks enticing. Several televisions broadcast sports games, while the waiters buzz around efficiently. From the intimate layout of small tables and bar seating, conversation and kitchen sounds dominate the sound waves. A clear view on the kitchen offers an personal glance of several of chefs cooking. The good service and quality yet pricey food is only enhanced by the playlist of music that fits the tone of Yuzu perfectly: young and hip.
Unlike the quick and easy ramen places you can find in Japantown, Yuzu is top quality. Given the flexibility of customizing the ramen, the restaurant accommodates customers’ needs. Yuzu’s most popular ramen soup, Gyukatsu, consists of a beef based soup, initially overlooked being as I’m a chicken broth fanatic. After choosing the broth, a crucial decision of either a standard noodle or udon noodle remains. This choice is essential to the soup. If you’re a angel hair pasta lover, go standard, but if you prefer the bucatini style pasta like I do, go udon for sure. Within the soup, the toppings consist of mushrooms, an egg and a single asparagus, all of which only add to the soup’s seasoned flavor.
Although Yuzu specializes in ramen, their fried rice and crispy fried chicken wings are also very popular. Between the Japanese style take on fried chicken wings and marinated fried rice, it’s clear that Yuzu has mastered their craft. All together, the ramen, wings and fried rice were the perfect amount of food for someone with a big appetite.
For all of you spicy-food lovers out there, stay tuned. Every dish served at Yuzu has both the option of mild or spicy, and according to the server the spicy dishes are a hit for their customers.
Just as I thought the meal was coming to an end, I was persuaded to try the matcha creme brulee. Imagining green tea mixed with a sweet treat, I was tentative at first but once the small dish arrived and my spoon broke through the caramelized top, my hesitation vanished. Although the texture may be unexpected and somewhat unsettling at first, after a few more bites, the custard became quite addictive.
If you love Asian food, ramen especially, Yuzu is the place for you. Keep an open mind, and eat, eat, eat!