In San Diego, great ramen is typically found on Convoy Street. However, there are still some excellent options further north, if you know where to go.
No other area of San Diego has the same concentration of ramen and Japanese restaurants as Convoy, but there are still some excellent places to get ramen in North County San Diego. Here are some top picks.
5. Ichiban Ramen and Sushi
Address: 3265 Business Park Dr C, Vista, CA 92081
Hours: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday - Saturday, 12 p.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday
Located near the border of San Marcos and Vista, Ichiban Ramen and Sushi is a fairly standard Japanese restaurant that happens to have some excellent ramen -- including some options you may not be able to find elsewhere.
There's a full menu of ramen options, including several types of Tonkotsu broth, Miso ramen, and Shoyou ramen. Vegetarians or vegans can opt for the meat-free Midori ramen. You can also order the Tsukemen, which features the broth and noodles served separately for dipping -- also very authentic.
It doesn't stop at ramen here -- the menu is actually pretty vast. Ichiban serves a variety of different sushi and sashimi options, along with appetizers, salads, and even sushi burritos.
4. Sushi Huku & Robata
Address: 727 W San Marcos Blvd #105, San Marcos, CA 92078
Hours: 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. (with a one-hour break between 3 p.m. and 4 p.m.) Monday - Thursday and Sunday, 11:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday
One of the oldest Asian restaurants in San Marcos, Sushi Huku serves up old-school Japanese delights in a cozy, wood-paneled environment. You'll find a full slate of authentic Japanese options at this restaurant -- including some great ramen.
Compared to other ramen shops, Sushi Huku has a fairly simple menu: just Shoyu, Miso, and Tonkotsu. However, the flavors here are excellent and all of the ramen options are affordably priced. You can even get a ramen and sushi combo for under $15 here.
Additionally, there's a slew of different sushi options, other classics like udon noodles and donburi, various salads and appetizers, and traditional bento-style lunches. If you're a fan of Japanese cuisine, then Sushi Huku is well worth a visit.
3. Gonzo Ramen
Address: 300 Carlsbad Village Dr, Carlsbad, CA 92008
Hours: 11:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. every day
Gonzo Ramen is a recent addition to the Carlsbad Village Faire -- it just opened in March 2020. Founded by the Murphy Family, the goal of Gonzo Ramen is to bring "upbeat, welcoming Japanese atmosphere and authentic Japenese comfort food to Carlsbad." To that end, Gonzo Ramen has met its goal.
The ramen here is truly exceptional. In addition to classics like Tonkotsu ramen and Miso ramen, along with the Gonzo Black (Tonkutsu with black garlic oil) and Gonzo Red (Tonkutsu with spicy chili oil). For vegetarians, there's also the vegan Gonzo Green. As you'd expect from a top-tier ramen shop, the depth of the broth is excellent.
In addition, Gonzo Ramen also features delicious rice bowls with either pork Chashu or chicken Karaage. The menu is fairly simple, but that allows the restaurant to perfect the options that it does have.
2. The Whet Noodle
Address: 1813 S Coast Hwy, Oceanside, CA 92054
Hours: 4 p.m. to 9 p.m Sunday - Thursday, 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday
If you're a fan of the experimental and delicious, The Whet Noodle is certainly worth a try. This is not your typical ramen shop -- everything is a fresh twist on classic Japanese favorites. However, if you're willing to be adventurous, the reward is well worth it.
On the ramen menu, you'll find unique options like the Fish Tonkotsu, which is made with a creamy fish broth and the fish of the day. The Hangry Vegan 2.0 features a "land & sea veggie broth," kale noodles, and faux chicken. For slightly more traditional ramen, try the Stone Soup. It features a chicken and pork broth but ditches the usual Chashu for carnitas.
As with most ramen places, there are a number of options beyond noodle soup. You'll find great starters and apps like Crispy Cauliflower, Ceviche Tostadas, and "Wings of the Sea." There are also terriyaki and yakisoba options if you prefer a non-soup noodle dish.
1. Mirin Cafe
Address: 1555 E Valley Pkwy, Escondido, CA 92027
Hours: 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. every day
Mirin Cafe in Escondido is a fairly unassuming joint. It's wedged between a gas station and a fast food restaurant. Don't let that fool you, however. Mirin Cafe serves some of the best ramen north of Convoy Street.
This place has all of the classics -- a rarity in the area. You can get Shoyu, Shio, or Tonkotsu ramen. However, you'll also find awesome creations like the Black Garlic Tonkotsu and the Mirin Ramen, which features a spicy miso broth. If you're daring, order the very spicy Volcano Ramen. According to the menu, it comes with "free hugs."
Beyond noodles, Mirin Cafe is a proper Japanese restaurant. You'll find a full slate of sushi options, as well as udon noodles (which are thicker than ramen), bento box lunches, and delicious appetizers like gyoza, tempura, and edamame.
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