Chapter 19 – Yamadaya 山田屋


So, I’ve been thinking about life a lot. Even more so since my parents left. Life is pretty short, and time passes without you noticing. If we can only live 80 years in a lifetime, assuming you don’t run into any accident, then why are so many people living for tomorrow and not today? I am actually guilty of this myself too. I always think, “okay, I will move back to Asia in three to five years”, or “I will start my company when I have enough experience”. But I came to realize if you don’t do now what you want to do in the future, then you’d never do it. Don’t get me wrong- planning and waiting for the timing are critical, but what is even more important is to set strict timelines and start making your future the present.

Since I posted the I-didn’t-enjoy-so-much ramen last week, my friends reactions were bipolar: some people loved having something in contrast, while the others warned me to watch myself if the restaurant owner turns out to be a mafia. So, I’m back to introducing some good and sexy ass ramens. This week, we have “Yamada-ya”, which translates to “The House of Yamada”. It’s pretty common in Japan to name your restaurant with [your name] + the [ya] suffix. It’s kind of like in English, we have “Denny’s”, “McDonald’s”, “Wendy’s”, etc.

Yamadaya is an American franchise that originated from Torrance down in Los Angeles. They now have stores all over California, even as far south as San Diego. Although I went to the branch in San Francisco’s Japantown this time, my very first visit to Yamada was actually to the Westwood branch. I remember the only legit ramen I knew at the time was another famous SoCal chain, “Daikokuya”. Then one day when I visited my UCLA friend Mr.B (just to tell him how much better USC is. haha!), he introduced me to Yamadaya just like he did with Tsujita. I remember when I had my first ramen, I was pretty overwhelmed. Bear in mind this was when the only legit ramen I knew was Daikokya and before LA even had a Tsujita. Now, I don’t really remember what broth it was or what the noodles tasted like, but I remember it was good overall, despite the tiny portion compared to even Japanese size.

Fast forward to now. The ramen I had in the Japantown branch is Tonkotsu Kotteri. Kotteri means thick and heavy. It usually refers to Tonkotsu base. But here in the U.S., it usually refers to Tonkotsu with se-abura (pork back oil). In Japan, it’s pretty much a given that Tonkotsu broths would include se-abura, but perhaps because Americans can’t take the super thick and fatty back oil, most ramen parlors tone down their regular Tonkotsu and offer the Kotteri option on the side.

Anyway, the Tonkotsu Kotteri is as authentic as can be. Just like an ordinary but sexy ordinary Kyushu style ramen, with extra thin noodles and a Tonkotsu kick that has a soul-cleansing aftertaste! The only difference is they put dry fried garlic slices as a topping, which I have never seen in Japan. But for garlic lovers like myself, it forms an awesome harmony with the other toppings – seaweed, kikurage, chashu, bamboo shoots, and an icing on the cake with the Tonkotsu soup. Also, the portion was not as tiny as before, and I didn’t have to order extra noodles this time. If there’s one thing I didn’t like though, it is probably their chashu. My chashu pork has a lot of fat. But for someone who loves pork fat, it could be a godsent.

Overall, the ramen is awesome and tight. Two thumbs up! But remember to go early during lunch/dinner time, especially on weekends, or you might find yourself waiting for 30 minutes to an hour.



依稀記得第一次吃的時候,LA還沒有Tsujita つじ田,所以那時山田屋對我還蠻震撼的。味道是什麼,湯頭是不是今天的豚骨也已經不記得了,但我只記得很好吃,但可惜量很小。在美國可以說是有點少的可憐。甚至比日本的量感覺還更少(雖然其實日本的拉麵都還蠻大碗的)。那時還蠻喜歡的,只要每次有去UCLA找B小弟就一定會去吃這家。









Yamadaya Kotteri $13

1728 Buchanan Street, San Francisco, CA, USA 94115



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