Our friends told us that we had to try Mensho Tokyo SF for authentic Japanese ramen. It’s in the Tenderloin, and people stand in line all night long until the soup runs out. This is the first restaurant Mensho Tokyo has opened outside of Japan. We don’t usually go to places you have to stand in line for, so we decided to get there early. It was an experience! The food was amazing–the best ramen we’ve ever had for sure. We think you should try it, but here are some things to know before you go.
Get there early. We showed up at 4:30pm and were first in line. Others started showing up at 4:31pm, and there was still a long line when we left Rye, next door, at 8pm. Hours are 5pm-11:30pm (or until the soup runs out). They are closed on Mondays.
Before opening, the restaurant is unmarked. There is only a post-it note that directs you the start of the line. Once the line has started, they will come outside and set up the signage and line ropes.
You’ll be directed to where to sit. There are a small number of high top communal tables. Don’t worry, you’ll get a spot with a shallow spoon and chopsticks with plenty of room to eat your delicious ramen!
Put your jackets and purses in the baskets. In addition to the baskets under your feet, there is also a shelf a few inches directly under the table where you can put small items. We didn’t realize it was there until the end of the meal. It’s perfect to put your iPhone or camera. Just don’t forget it!
Order sake. This experience is unexpected, especially if you haven’t had sake served like this before.
What’s on the table? You’ll find two types of dashi. Check out the walls for more information on the two options you can add to your ramen. The servers can also explain the difference better than we can.
Go with a friend. There’s a small bar you can sit at if you go by yourself, but we recommend going with friends. It makes the experience more fun, and you can share and try different things. Our table ordered Tori Paitan (rich and creamy chicken soup, pork chashu, duck chashu, menma, kale, burdock, katsuobushi sauce), Organic Shoyu Ramen (clear organic chicken and pork soup, shoyu dare, pork chashu, duck chashu, kale, kale sprouted, chives, memna, nori), and Vegan Tantanmen (vegetable soup with knob and mushrooms, premium Japanese soy cream, seven types of nuts, sesame, cilantro, chili oil, green onion, men, kale sprouts), and Mazesoba (a spicy soupless ramen with noodles topped with an egg that you mix).
How spicy do you want it? If you order Mazesoba, know that “medium” is one habanero pepper and “spicy” is two. We went with medium and it was very spicy.
Bring your own tupperware. Joking. But not really. There are no to-go boxes and the portions are generous, so if you know you can’t finish a whole bowl of ramen, our server suggested bringing your own container so you can have the rest later at home. I bet it tastes even better the next day!
If you’re a vegan, you need to go here. Out of multiple dishes, the Vegan Tantanmen (vegetable soup with knob and mushrooms, premium Japanese soy cream, seven types of nuts, sesame, cilantro, chili oil, green onion, men, kale sprouts) was our favorite! It was super flavorful and won out for us over all the meat dishes.
We can’t wait to go again. It’s a bit of a sacrifice to stand in the line but its worth it knowing you won’t be disappointed.
Mensho Tokyo SF, 672 Geary St, San Francisco, CA 94102, USA