Welcome to my ramen dream... Currently being interpreted in Ramen Burger Land... Looking for a good slurp? Email me ! - Keizo

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Shoki Ramen House - Sacramento, CA

2675 24th Street
Sacramento, CA 95818
(916) 454-2411
Bowl of Dreams Archive

When you think of Sacramento, you might never think of ramen. That is, until you look closely and realize that ramen is ingrained in Sac-RAMEN-to!

About a year and a half ago, Shoki Ramen House was featured in an article published by the Sacramento Bee called Bowl of Dreams. Coincidentally, I was also interviewed for that article without really knowing exactly what it was about. As it turned out, the article mainly focused on Shoki's owner/chef, Yasushi Ueyama, and the heart and soul of the local ramen scene. And since reading that article, I've been dying to try Ueyama-san's passionate "ippai"--a comforting bowl served out of a building that looks more like grandma's house than an actual restaurant.

Concluding a short flight from LA to SF and an eighty mile drive from SF to Sac, my first priority of business after being greeted and seated by the friendly staff was...to use the restroom (tmi?...haha). That's where I found the aforementioned article posted up behind the restroom door.

Shoki's quaint, little dining area embraces a cozy welcome with barely enough room for the line of patrons waiting at the door. There's a total of six tables with at most nineteen seats--a true neighborhood-ramen-ya-feel. The adjacent wall showcases any specials, sets, or upcoming creations (e.g. Soy Milk Ramen & Tomato Sauce Ramen) along with a giant dry/erase board solely devoted to explaining Shoki's concept and mission.

Rather than repeat it word for word, here's a closer look at the giant dry/erase board. Don't forget to read about the Double Soup!

Here you see Ueyama-san (yellow shirt) and his trusted assistant hard at work during today's opening rush. (I realized after taking this picture that the kitchen was actually bigger than the dining area.)

Tantan Men: The first ramen I tried today was the "Specialized" Tantan Men. It's basically their original shoyu ramen (see later) mixed with a homemade chili oil and topped with goma-miso minced meat, menma, moyashi, kaiware, negi, and seaweed. The spice levels range from mild to super (I chose regular) and you can also select from three different sizes (chose regular again).

Mmmm...did I mention the goma-miso minced meat? This Tantan Men was outstanding! If I can compare it at all to something I've had before, it would come close to challenging Shisen Ramen for the Tantan Title. Seriously, this minced meat thingy mixed with the chili-oiled-shoyu-base tasted amazing! After traveling this far just to spend an hour eating, I was NOT disappointed. And this was only the first bowl!

The noodles come direct from the Yamachan factory based in San Francisco so there's not much to get excited about here, but they still tasted pretty good and paired well with the soup.

Shoyu Ramen: After countless months of eating soul-less shoyu ramen, I've finally found an impressive batch in, of all places, Sacramento. It was truly an interesting experience almost too hard to describe. I could taste its boldness, yet it came across light and refreshing with a hint of power. Could this be due to the "good" oil they mentioned on the wall? I don't know, but it's nothing short of magical. The noodles may bring the magic down a notch, but like before, it was still a good pairing.

Shio Ramen: Before paying the bill, I decided to try a mini bowl of the last ramen on the menu: Shio Ramen. Damn, is that bowl tiny or is that chashu ginormous? I'll get back to the chashu in a bit, but this shio base was also quite the refreshment. You can definitely taste the ocean (in a good way) and the shio-dare really stood out. It's hard to believe there's no MSG, but that just goes to show you how hard Ueyama-san works to bring out the natural umami-flavors.

Now back to this thinly sliced, tender piece of break-apart, juicy chashu. It honestly reminded me of Kobe ramen and what do you know, Ueyama-san is from Kobe! Shocking!

After my lunch, Ueyama-san was gracious enough to give me a tour of his kitchen. He showed me practically everything, including the three stage process that goes into his soup. I also learned that he trained at Ramen Halu in San Jose before opening Shoki (in addition to what he learned as a professional chef in Japan). I was even invited back during his lunch break, but unfortunately I had to head back to the city (darn!). Ueyama-san arigato~!! I'll be back someday! Thanks for putting the ramen in Sacramento. It's only fitting that your name literally translates to Top of the Mountain!

Oh yeah, on my way home I drove past the State Capitol just so I could say I've been there. After all this was my first visit to Sacramento. :P


  1. Wow great post and the photos illustrate the story so very well! A must try for me on my next road trip.. I still can't believe you had all those in one sitting! :)

  2. Thanks! I'm still in shock how good it was.

  3. i gotta go all the way up to sacramento for this? hmm...maybe...

    did you our governator ahh-nold up there?

  4. No ahh-nold sightings. He was too busy organizing our tax refunds...hehe. I'll take mine in ramen!

  5. I can't believe you ate all those bowls either! Now that you've eaten here, will it be hard to find an equivalent or better ramen-ya in the Bay area?

  6. Well...there's always Santa Ramen. That's coming up soon too.

  7. I went and tried that place the same day you posted! how funny! and wow it was sooo good!

  8. Cool! I posted on the same day I went so I wonder if we were there at the same time.

  9. Hi Keizo,

    Very nice review! :) Kuyashiii~ (;_;) I'm so bummed that this place is in Sacramento. Seriously, doesn't it seem sad that a place like this that is SO dedicated to the art of Ramen (except the Noodles) is in Sacramento? :(

    We have Murakami-san, but this is sad that it's so far.

  10. True, but that just means there's so much more out there waiting to be found!

  11. I have been eating at Shoki's since day one of it's opening along with my hula ohana (family). Being that Sacramento does have a decent sized asian and islander community, it is a great addition to the city and we need more! This place is a close second to a place on Kaua'i that I frequent when I visit the parents. Haumura's in Lihue is the greatest and it has been around for what seems like an eternity...it is a standard stop for many when you go to the island.

  12. Nice! If I ever make it out to Kauai, I'll be sure to visit Haumura. Thanks!

  13. I'm another person that's been eating at Shoki since they opened. The place was a godsend for me because I had ramen cravings for a long ass time when the only semi-decent place closed down a year before Shoki came into town. I'm not quite as dedicated as you, so I settled with what I could find in SF, but Shoki really hits the spot. I think I'm gonna get some pretty soon to chase away my hangover. Cheers!

  14. Thanks Andrew! Please give my best to Ueyama-san. Cheers!

  15. I am surprised by your review! You seem to have tasted all those delicious ramen in Japan and still give thumbs up to Shoki? I tried Shoki a few times but it has been always disappointing. So I stopped going... Dashi is so weak and no umami in soup at all. Stingy with topping. It is simply not tasty. Noodles are not exciting as you say the only decent part of their ramen. I always thought this place can survive because there is no other ramen shop and people haven't really tasted good ramen. But you know all the good places and you still like this place. I guess, there is something good about Shoki's ramen....Mystery to me...

  16. Ooooooooh, that's cold, Anonymous! Weak dashi (soup base) is a terminal indictment for genuine ramen afficionados who have tasted the best in Japan. Any positive experiences out there regarding veggie or seafood dashi (non-meat) ramen? Taro's at Arden Fair Mall in Sacramento gives great miso ramen with robust dashi made from crab. How's Shoki on that front?

  17. Crab in dashi? wut. Dashi the "ocean part should only contain fish, bonito and small whole fish (sardines and the like)and Kombu (seawead). The land part is pork bone or chicken.
    Another issue I keep seeing from Sac reviews expect a Japanese dish to be the same a pho or other mainland asian dishes HOT spicy and strong.
    Want hot spicy find a Korean joint, or rarer a Chinese noodle joint. Plenty of strong meat flavors and heat.

    Sad that he uses those noodles. Samurai Noodle in Seattle has proper noodles. Maybe because of the ports and distance/cost. Recommend them it is one thing I miss about that city.

    1. Finally after 2 years ate there
      .loved it! 30 minutes laterworst diarrhea for an hour! Bummer! What ingredients could of caused it?

  18. Not surprised you found good ramen in Sacramento.

    After all, census data says it is the most ethnically diverse city in the United States, per capita.

    Next time try Akebono's new offshoot, Ryujin. 3 ramens served, a shoyu, a shio base with chili oil, and a black broth (I think made with black garlic and garlic oil).