Around town with Allison: Send noods! Marufuku Ramen

Two bowls of ramen on a wood table
Allison Fong/Staff

If you can see your breath in the air, it’s time for two things: to put on some thick layers and to get some ramen. With temperatures hitting the low 50s, nothing’s more comforting than a hearty bowl of ramen. With two locations, one in Oakland’s Temescal and another in San Francisco, Marufuku Ramen is blessing the Bay Area with some delicious Hakata-style ramen. If you’re ever in Temescal, you’ve probably seen this place without even knowing. The place with the insane crowd waiting outside of it? Yeah, that’s Marufuku Ramen.

A restaurant sign on a wood wall

Now, I’ve heard a lot about this place from friends and family. All of them started by telling me how delicious the food was, shortly followed by a remark about the incredibly long wait. As a drama queen myself, I always assumed they were overexaggerating the wait time and size of the line — but boy was I wrong.

When I came here for the first time, I arrived 10 minutes after they opened for the dinner service. To my surprise, all the seats were already filled by this time, and a line was already starting to form outside. I repeat, it was only 10 minutes after they opened! I believe my words as I stepped outside of the car were, “You’ve got to be kidding me.” So the alleged exaggeration of the length of the line and popularity of this spot was not an exaggeration after all. As a party of three, we were told our wait time was 40 minutes. This wasn’t that big of a deal considering that the Temescal Alley was only a block away. After visiting one of my favorite plant stores, Crimson Horticultural Rarities, and inevitably buying another plant, it was finally time for us to be seated.

And yes, I did bring a plant to dinner. Did I get some weird looks? Yes. Do I care? Not really — it’s a lifestyle.

Pro tip: Add yourself to the Yelp waitlist when you’re on your way to Marufuku. Let them know your name and the size of your party, and your table should be almost ready by the time that you arrive — which cuts your wait time dramatically. And even if you do end up waiting, just know that good things are worth the wait — and Marufuku Ramen is definitely it.

Before we delve into the food, here’s a crash course in ramen. Believe it or not, there are many different styles of this dish. Marufuku Ramen serves Hakata-style ramen, which originates from the Hakata District of Japan. This style consists of a milky pork bone broth and straight, thin noodles, resembling Chinese wheat noodles. This might bring a furrow to your brow when your ramen arrives at the table because the noodles aren’t the curly ones that you’re probably used to. While this style of ramen may look a little different from what you’re used to, let it be known that it isn’t lacking one bit in flavor. We love noods in every size, shape and color, folks — no discrimination of noods here.

A bowl of ramen on a wood table

With a limited menu, Marufuku makes things easy (especially for someone as indecisive as me). With four ramens on the menu, not including the veggie ramen that’s available upon request, this menu focuses more on quality over quantity. Now, as a vegetarian, I’ve unfortunately dealt with some sad, sad ramen — subpar broth with some mushy noods makes no one happy. But for my fellow vegetarians out there, Marufuku doesn’t disappoint. Despite not containing meat, this veggie ramen is bold and packed with flavor.

While I cannot vouch for the meat-containing ramen, my meat-eating friends can. One thing that all of my friends raved about was the broth, arguably the most important part of the dish. With rich and flavorful broth, you can really tell that it has been cooking for more than 20 hours. (This is not a typo, folks — 20 hours.) With the perfect balance of toppings, tenderness of noodles and insanely flavorful broth, what more could you ever ask for? Just more noodles, of course.

Another aspect of the Hakata-style ramen is the option to add more noodles. Because the noodles are so thin, they can absorb the soup and become too mushy if made in a larger portion — which is a major no-no. The kae-dama method of ordering extra noodles entails a bowl of noodles that comes after your initial order. You can then add the extra noodles to your remaining broth and slurp away. This way, your noodles will be at the perfect firmness. Say no to mushy noods. 

As a seasoned ramen consumer, I’ve paid upward of $25 per bowl of ramen. Luckily for you, Marufuku is not only insanely delicious, but it’s also super affordable. Grab your friends, add yourself to the Yelp waitlist and slurp some noods. (Specifically from Marufuku Ramen, of course.) #sendnoods 

Allison Fong writes the weekly blog column on places and activities to try in and around Berkeley. Contact her at [email protected].