photo credit: Raphael Brion
Sazan is a ramen shop that should be on the radar of everyone with even a passing interest in noodles, broth, or Japanese whiskey. And if you’re into all three? Well, there are some apartments nearby you might want to consider. The specialty here is paitan ramen—a rich and creamy broth made from boiling bones for a long period of time–but unlike most other spots in town that use exclusively pork bones (tonkotsu), Sazan uses a mix of chicken and pork. The end result is a broth that’s just a little bit lighter (but no less satisfying) than its popular cousin. Go with the original paitan, and you’ll even notice a garnish of fresh arugula that packs a subtle peppery punch into the creamy broth. But as much as we love their original, the spicy and black garlic versions here might be our favorites. They also make a really great vegan bowl of ramen, complete with a massive ball of tempura fried veggies on top.
There’s a full bar with Japanese-inspired cocktails—from classic highballs, to a green tea-ni (with Japanese whiskey, green tea syrup, and shochu)—plus a collection of Japanese whiskeys impressive enough to satisfy whiskey nerds and first-timers alike. Between the well-stocked bar and the minimalist, zen-like dining room, it’s easy to forget you’re in a strip mall between a Japanese dollar store and a large Asian supermarket chain. At least until you look outside to see people walking through the parking lot with bottles of ramune and fun snacks they picked up next door. If anything, it just means that it’s that much more convenient to get a great bowl of ramen at any time.
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The signature ramen, made with a blend of pork and chicken broth. It’s creamy, rich, and especially satisfying on a cold day. The toppings could use a bit of work—the chashu is forgettable, and the ajitama could be a little more flavorful—but the fresh arugula is unique and makes us feel like we’re eating something kind of healthy. The broth makes this bowl, and we can almost guarantee you’ll be talking about it for days to come.
Spicy Paitan Ramen
This bowl starts with the same base as the paitan ramen, then adds some spice, cashews, and roasted tomatoes that add in some punchy acidity in ways we didn’t know we needed. This is our favorite bowl here.
Just Like Paitan
Vegan options at ramen joints tend to feel like an afterthought, but the Just Like Paitan bowl could hold its own in any type of noodle face-off (a battle we’d very much like to watch). It’s made with kale noodles and a creamy vegan broth, then topped with a giant ball of tempura fried veggies.
Indomitable Chicken Wings
We’ve come here before and just ordered the chicken wings, if that’s any indication of their quality. They’re about as crispy as wings can get, and tossed with a dry curry rub that we’d eat on just about anything.