There are probably hundreds if not thousands of ramen spots throughout the city of San Diego, so it can be quite difficult to narrow down the spots that are worth trying. With that being said, I want to make it clear that I by no means claim that I have tried every ramen spot in San Diego, but there are quite a few spots that I have tried, namely the most popular ones and some smaller, hole in the wall spots as well. So, you can say I am pretty well versed in the ramen world, but it would be impossible to try every single ramen spot in San Diego. Of course, this is all pretty subjective and everyone can have very different tastes when it comes to what we look for in a bowl of ramen, but this is a compilation of reviews that are based on my personal experience as well as ratings found on the internet. Like I always say, I am not a fan of spicy food, so there could very well be really delicious and amazing spicy ramen dishes out there, but I for one can not be one to judge for that, unfortunately. But nonetheless we continue.
As a note, I will be focusing on the ramen focused restaurants and will not be including any non-ramen-focused restaurants that might also have amazing ramen, this is just for the ramen restaurants that serve mainly ramen and some side dishes. That is not to say, however, that I will not be taking side dishes into account for this list.
1. Menya Ultra
Literally, ask anyone who knows ramen at all and you will find out that Menya Ultra is the absolute GOAT when it comes to ramen and it was an absolute game changer when they opened their first restaurant in the Convoy District of San Diego. If you know anything about Convoy, you know that parking is absolutely horrible and it is always so packed and busy so it is not a surprise to know that the first Menya Ultra opened in Convoy and literally had long lines every single day for months on end until COVID 19 happened and the wait times kind of died down and never really matched the initial level of busyness as before COVID struck. Back then, we were talking about wait times of over an hour pretty much every single day of the week. When I went, we waited a total of an hour and thirty minutes and it became the longest I have ever waited for a restaurant. Nowadays, especially since they opened a second location in Mira Mesa in a much less busy area, there aren't really any wait times anymore, so rest assured if you decide to go, it should not be too bad of a wait to get in.
Menya Ultra's noodles are consistently perfectly cooked with a lovely texture and a satisfying bite to it. Their broth is rich and creamy yet not too heavy and oily which is an amazing balance that is quite difficult to achieve. This is hands down a classic spot where you can consistently expect great ramen. There is not really a "wow" factor per se, but it is very much a well made, classic bowl of ramen, similar to ramen you can find in Japan. I can not speak much on their sides as they are pretty average, but I do remember them having some more unique ramen options that might be worth trying!
2. Hiro Nori Craft Ramen
This is somewhat an underdog spot as there aren't nearly as many raving reviews for this place as there are for Menya Ultra, but this is definitely a solid place and a place a lot of people should try. I think one reason why this place is more underrated and less talked about is because the location it is in. It is near the downtown area and we all know how difficult it is to park and get around in downtown, so it is no wonder that people are reluctant to go downtown for some ramen. Downtown is also not as dominated by Asian culture and food, so Hiro Nori is a little out of place in downtown which may be why it has not been getting as much traction as it deserves.
Their broth is extremely flavorful and rich and the meat is super tender and flavorful as well. Their soft boiled egg is absolutely amazing (to die for) and their noodles also have that lovely texture and bite to it. Once again, there is no "wow" factor to this spot, but it is just an overall solid spot for ramen and I think it deserves a lot more merit!
3. Karami Ramen
Third place was truly difficult for me to decide as there really are a lot of great ramen spots in San Diego and we are so lucky to be in their presence and have so many options surrounding us. But ultimately, I decided to go for the underdog option, the hole in the wall, the small business. Karami Ramen opened a few years back and immediately I fell in love with their ramen. Their noodles were unique and so satisfying to chew on. But what stood out the most was how pleasantly light yet flavorful their broth was. One of my major problems with some ramen is that it can be too salty or oily, but I loved the lightness of the broth here. The chashu meat is also always great and I have no complaints about the egg either.
Karami Ramen is quite a small spot in the literal corner of a pretty big plaza so it is easy to miss, so if you are looking to support a small business and want some great ramen, I would definitely recommend checking them out. Their curry is also delicious!
I honestly didn't realize how difficult it would be to narrow down three options to recommend for this list so I might have to make a part two to this list as I still have so many more great spots to share!
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