Dedicated to Sean Dow
Here’s a very special ramen review (it’s the big one) dedicated to the person who has been with me there the most. And also to the same person who happens to donate $5 a month to me on Patreon. Cheers!
What can I say about Marufuku; it’s hands down my favorite ramen place in the city of San Francisco (currently), and the one I take people to when they ask me where to eat ramen. It’s a ramen place I’ve been to so many times, I stopped taking pictures every time (I still have plenty). Nestled in the corner of the Japantown mall, Marufuku is clearly visible from the bridge thanks in part to the ever-present line that hangs off the doorway.
Of course, the wait is long, but the food is well worth the effort. They serve exactly two types of ramen: Hakata-style tonkotsu ramen, and Tori Paitan served the same way. Hakata-style ramen is marked by rich, milky pork bone broth simmered for a long, long time (sometimes upwards of 20 hours), and thin, straight noodles. Tori Paitan is similarly thick chicken bone broth with a variable noodle.
In this case, the same noodles. The limited Deluxe Tori Paitan comes with the most tantalizing braised chicken leg sizzling on a hot iron plate. I cannot bear to tear myself away from the pork-based broth, but I admit my feelings on the matter become distressingly flexible when I smell that sweet soy glaze caramelizing against that beautifully rendered chicken skin. It’s honestly kind of magical and everyone should get one at least once, for the table; you know, take one for the team.
The beauty of Marufuku’s Hakata Deluxe ramen is in its incredible balance. Every aspect is done spectacularly well. I will definitely find places with amazing broth, or incredible noodles, or standout roast pork, but no place handles everything with as much care and attention as Marufuku does. It can vary by the day: on its best days it’s more worth eating than anything, but even on its worst days it still contends with every other ramen place on my list. The scale really just goes from Amazing to Temporarily Forget About Worldly Ills. Also the Kakuni is melt-in-your-mouth to die for. Period.
A large part of the appeal of Marufuku to me, personally, is comfort. I’ve taken just about every person who has hung out with me in San Francisco to Marufuku; we stood in the line together upwards of thirty minutes before opening, we dipped out of line occasionally to check out the Maido, and we felt the tense anticipation as the irregularly shaped bowls are placed down with a clatter.
Marufuku is one of the first places I went to when I was exploring “real” ramen (the very first was Ramen Yamadaya across the street), and is absolutely foundational in my understanding of eating ramen. These memories are precious to me in a way that is inexplicably tied to an excellent bowl of ramen, which, perhaps, just makes it more delicious. I swear the line gets a little longer every time I go, but if I’m craving ramen, I’m craving Marufuku. It’s as simple as that.
Oh, and Marufuku does not have a bathroom, so no sink to speak of.
Marufuku is S-Tier.
Marufuku’s sink is 404 – Sink Not Found.