Ramen tasting at Cock-a-Doodle Cafe.

The nice thing about the ramen frenzy in the Bay Area is that it comes in all forms, from the premium bowls at fancy restaurants, to counters serving up noodles and bar bites, and to pop ups where chefs are honing their skills in broth-making.

An example of the latter is Ippo Ramen, a pop up by Chef Steven Yee, who started making ramen soup years ago for his wife who couldn’t find a decent bowl in the Bay Area. He’s gone on to launch his Ippo Ramen and developed a following at East Bay bars and the Albany Farmers Market. A couple of weeks ago, I was invited to a media tasting of Yee’s ramen at his soon-to-be new home, the Cock-a-Doodle Cafe in Old Oakland.

On this night, Yee served up a starter of his cha shu don, a mini rice bowl of tender pork (which is the same slices served in the ramen) chopped into cubes and served simply with green onions and half an egg. While the pork was good, it was slightly on the bland side, which is probably why a lot of people at the table felt experimental with some hot sauce on the table.

Then Yee served up (in succession) three bowls of his ramen, starting with the shio (salt), then the shoyu and ending with a rich miso broth. The contents of each bowl were very similar: slice of cha shu, half an egg, bamboo shoots, and kikurage, all on top of springy ramen noodles. With each bowl looking very similar, it gave me the chance to focus on the broth.

The shio was light and simple, and actually my favorite because of its simplicity. The shoyu seemed deeper in savoriness but didn’t seem to have the richness. That came with the miso, which wasn’t just miso soup but had additional depth to give it a slight spicy flavor, but not enough to call it spicy ramen.

One thing about Ippo Ramen’s bowl of noodles, they are all representative of the working-class ramen served in Japan, simple and straight-forward and always best with a cold beer.

Thanks to Chef Yee and Cock-a-Doodle Cafe for hosting the tasting. To find Ippo Ramen and its next pop up, visit its Facebook page.

2 Responses to Ippo Ramen Pops Up in a New Home at Cock-a-Doodle Cafe

  1. Carolyn Jung says:

    That’s a tasty parade of ramen bowls! I actually like the broth on the lighter side. It’s satisfying yet not bloating, if you know what I mean. LOL

    • Ben Ben says:

      I’m starting to feel that way too, Carolyn. After recent years of tonkotsu broth, it’s refreshing to try something light.