A good portion of my time this summer has been, for the betterment of my taste buds, an exploration into the many eateries the Bay Area has to offer. As a result, it was with great excitement that a few Sundays ago I was able to try Ramen Nagi, the much-hyped ramen place exported from east Asia known for their noodles handmade daily. Needless to say, I (and my stomach) was ready.
We arrived just before 9pm, anticipating the restaurant to cut the line around that time (thankfully, they didn’t need to this evening). I came with three other people: Alex, Tenzin, and Christian (Alex and Tenzin are both friends of mine from freshman year; Christian is Tenzin’s friend from Chicago). We were all starving, having waited until then to eat dinner.
Ramen Nagi sits along Bryant Street just off University Avenue; you can bike here pretty easily from on campus, which I’m sure is an intentional grab at the student population given the close proximity. While the rest of Downtown Palo Alto seemed to be closing up, Ramen Nagi continued to look and feel busy; the storefront cast a faint glow on the patrons in line outside waiting to order. Inside, large groups of people continued their conversations, laughing and eating all the while.
The storefront cast a faint glow on the patrons in line outside waiting to order. Inside, large groups of people continued their conversations, laughing and eating all the while.
The 20 minute wait took pretty much no time at all, and as soon as we were allowed inside they whisked us through the process of ordering ramen. The customizations here were simple but extensive, and included broth and noodle types, choice of meat, and spice level, among other options. Once we were seated, an attendant quickly reviewed our choices with us before taking our orders to the open kitchen. A few minutes later, we were greeted with a generous, piping hot bowl of ramen to our specifications.
The whole process was painless, and the result was nothing short of delicious. The ramen was firm as I requested, creating a nice bite, and the tonkotsu broth was rich but not too oily. The Original King, as it was called, was spicy and savory in all the right ways, and came with a liberal cut of pork belly that melted in your mouth. Above all, the service was exceptional; after my friend Alex received a less than optimal slice of kakuni, the attendant replaced it free of charge.
Given that the price point is comparable to many places in Palo Alto (expect to pay around $20 after tip + tax), Ramen Nagi is definitely worth your time and energy to go. If anything, I wish I could take the ramen to go, as it really is filling! I’m already thinking of the next time I can find myself here, waiting in line at this little slice of Japan found in the Bay Area to get my ramen fix once more.
Until next time,