The sparsely furnished, cash-only Ren’s Ramen, next to Daruma Japanese Market, is one of the few places in the area to serve ramen that tastes the way it’s supposed to. Though the noodles aren’t made fresh—the shop imports them from Japan—they put the packaged grocery-store stuff to shame.
The Sapporo-style miso ramen ($10) is a large bowl of slightly chewy, twisted noodles in an intensely flavored broth. Tonshio ramen ($10), described as a pork-and-salt-based soup, is slightly less intense. Both bowls include crunchy sprouts, bamboo shoots, scallions, a square of seaweed paper, and a sadly dry slice of roast pork. Vegetable shio ramen ($11) is a light but slightly funky broth loaded with cabbage, carrots, and seaweed, among other things.
By the time extras are added to a bowl of soup—such as buttery, stewed fatty pork ($3.50) or boiled egg or corn ($2 and 75 cents respectively)—the check can soar. Ordering the weekday lunch special ($13.95) keeps the price in check. It includes a choice of three types of ramen served with an addictive side of that stewed fatty pork over rice and a tiny saucer of marinated seaweed that tastes almost like candy.