Taishoken is an iconic ramen chain in Japan that specializes in Tsukemen Ramen or dipping ramen. Founded in the 1950s , Taishoken thrived and serves large delicious bowls of noodles. Taishoken’s founder Yamagishi has had a profound impact on “Ramen Culture” and his legacy lives on through his ever popular ramen chain.
Taishoken recently opened a spot in the Bay Area, located in downtown San Mateo, a mere 15 minutes away from San Francisco International Airport. You will find plenty of ramen and Japanese cuisine options in the area, but even so, Taishoken is clearly noticeable due the sizable crowd. This spot has a Yelp wait list that is consistently sitting in the high 50s.
Location and Wait Time
Taishoken is located in downtown San Mateo, a county South of San Francisco. On the weekends, the drive from San Francisco to San Mateo is relatively easy with light traffic. The drive typically takes about 25-30 minutes. Street Parking in San Mateo was free as this was a Sunday, but parking is widely available as there are several large parking structures in addition to street parking.
Once we got to Taishoken, a large crowd awaited us. We arrived about 25 minutes before opening and the crowd must have been 50 parties deep. I lined up to sign up for the yelp wait list and was number 13 in line. (Side Note: The yelp wait list is only accessible at Taishoken. You cannot sign up online) By the time everyone waiting put their name of the wait list, the list was around 50 to 60 parties deep. Even with a dozen parties ahead of us, the wait took slightly over an hour. Around 6:05, my family and I were finally seated. Although there was a huge crowd outside the host was very friendly and patient with all patrons.
Menu and Ordering
Taishoken has several different types of ramen. Their tsukemen ramen is their specialty so we all decided to order the dipping ramen. Each bowl of ramen came with buckwheat ramen noodles, a soft boiled egg, and sous-vide pork loin. Taishoken has several other toppings available so I added pork belly and extra noodles to my order.
We started off with a potato salad. Since this was my first time at Taishoken, I had no clue what starters to get. Jen suggested the potato salad based on yelp reviews. The potato salad was a nice light starter, lacking the hard hitting flavors that would soon follow.
The large bowl of noodles was topped with a marinate soft boiled egg (ajitsuke tamago), sliced sous-vide pork, and braised pork belly(Kakuni). The noodles also came with a side of hot dipping broth flavored with anchovies and bursting with Umami.
The noodles were made out of buckwheat and cooked to perfection, maintaining the nice chewiness that I love. The kakuni(Pork Belly) was slightly sweet, extremely delicious, and very tender. The Ajitsuke Tamago was probably the most delicious ramen egg I have ever eaten. The yoke was still runny but the entire egg was full of flavor. The dipping sauce took the dish to new heights and the warmth of the broth provided a nice contrast with the cool noodles.
Overall: 10/10 Would Definitely Go Again
Overall the experience at Taishoken was wonderful. Although the lines can be insanely longs, the friendly atmosphere and warm staff really made the difference. The food itself was delicious and off the charts. Although I’ve had tsukemen ramen before, nothing compares to Taishoken. Even the Ajitsuke Tamago was extremely delicious with Jen proclaiming it “The best ramen egg I’ve ever had”. The premium ingredients and attention to detail exhibited the chain’s Japanese roots. Even with such long waits, you can count on me to come back for some delicious buckwheat ramen!