Edit ModuleShow Tags

Soup's On!

Three soups from Underbelly, Zensei Sushi, and Masa


Published:

Noodles are hot. The neo-ramen trend—arguably spearheaded in 2004 by NYC super-chef David Chang at Momofuku—has finally hit San Diego. The non-Asian creatives behind Craft & Commerce opened Little Italy’s Underbelly, while ex-Stingaree chef Antonio Friscia christened Gaijin in the Gaslamp. At once exotic, comfort-foodish, budget, nostalgic, simple—soup is a bowl full of gastro-buzzwords. Near Downtown, here are three to slurp:

TRY: UnderBelly Ramen at UnderBelly
WHERE: 750 W. Fir St., Little Italy
PRICE: $12

These guys are the Eminems of the Asian noodle scene. Run by a pair of “white doofuses”—Arsalun Tafazoli and Nate Stanton, the same duo behind Craft & Commerce—outsiders might be tempted to red-flag them for Hello Kitty poseuring. But Tafazoli studied in China for two years, hopping to Tokyo for ramen fixes. To research the project, he flew back several times and researched the ramen masters (Jun-Ichi Shimazaki, Yamagashi-San and Ivan Orkin). They then flew out ramen consultants to taste-test their creations. Their eponymous ramen is a pork broth that’s thick, almost creamy as you get to the bottom, with ample salt and magnesium balls (key to good ramen). The real treat here is the two thick, broth-marinated cuts of applewood-smoked bacon.

TRY: Chicken Udon at Zensei Sushi
WHERE: 3396 30th St., North Park
PRICE: $8.95

Hot food at a sushi joint? Blasphemy! Unless it’s this gem with the plumpest, most perfectly cooked noodles in town. They’re not just wide loads like pappardelle; they’re three-dimensionally fat. Hearty helpings of chicken, green onions and cabbage make it a filling one-bowl meal. The topcoat of chili powder provides some spicy Asianness without incapacitating your palate. And the chicken stock is what Campbell’s would taste like if it adopted new concepts called “real food” and “flavor."

TRY: Beef Soba at Izakaya Masa
WHERE: 928 Fort Stockton Dr., Mission Hills
PRICE: $6.95

Tucked in the corner of a Mission Hills strip mall you’ll find this tiny restaurant—so authentic it seems boated in from Tokyo. Masa is great for udon and ramen, but it’s the soba that really shines. The buckwheat noodles are thinner, darker, and a bit more earthy. Think 12-grain loaf instead of Wonderbread. Thin-sliced beef complements the lightly salty soy broth, topped with shaved carrot and scallions

 

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

More »Related Stories

I Tried It: Yoga Out Loud

Who knew that modern electronic music would be a perfect match for a 5,000-year-old spiritual practice?

Backstage Tour: San Diego Opera’s 'Tosca'

We learn what it takes to stage a famous production

2016 Valentine’s Day Guide

San Diego’s best dinner specials, wine tastings, spa deals, staycations, shows and more
Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Most Popular

  1. San Diego's Next Hot Neighborhoods
    Where everyone will be living in 2016
  2. The Noisy Restaurant Epidemic
    Notice a volume spike in restaurants lately? There are so many reasons today's restaurants are louder than ever. Award-winning architect Matthew Ellis explains.
  3. Goodnight, Claire de Lune
    For 19 years, Claire de Lune was the come-as-you-are cultural hangout for North Park. Today it closes. Owner Claire Magner looks back.
  4. The Best of North County 2016
    There’s never been a better time to experience NoCo’s charms
  5. Get Outside: 15 Outdoor Challenges
    Take your workouts to new heights and lengths with our list of San Diego’s best hikes, bike paths, and swims
  6. San Diego's James Beard Nominees Are...
    The James Beard nominees were announced today. And San Diego's restaurant scene grabbed three. And the nominees are...
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Promotions

More Than 1,300 Prizes are Ready to be Given Away

What are you waiting for? Buy your raffle ticket now

Not Your Grandma's Orthotics

New year, new – shoe? Staying on your feet for long hours at a time just got a whole lot more comfortable with Wiivv’s BASE custom insoles

Go Ahead... Ask McMillin!

At McMillin Realty, we are encouraging you to bring us your real estate questions. We will answer these questions….. for free.
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module
Edit Module

Connect With Us:

Edit ModuleShow Tags

Sponsored

The Inaugural Breakthrough Biomedical Philanthropy Forum

Sponsored by the Salk Institute

“Will You Marry Me”?

Sharon Jenks, CEO of 6 Degrees, on building business relationships

More Than 1,300 Prizes are Ready to be Given Away

What are you waiting for? Buy your raffle ticket now
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags