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Krescent Cassaro

Iza Ramen

Japanese / Ramen  in  Haight
Written by
Krescent Cassaro

Chicken Soup for the Teenage Soul was on the bookshelf of every girl we knew growing up, and there was a lot to learn. Poems about drunk driving, fables about why drugs will destroy your spinal cord and also kill puppies, essays about self-confidence.

21st century update: Ramen is now the cure for the soul. And the ramen at Iza Ramen is comforting and delicious and tastes a sh*tload better than any chicken noodle soup. We’ve found our new go-to spot.

Iza's headlining ramen is spectacular: the broth is super rich, and the noodles are a perfect consistency. To accompany, there are also lots of fried options to comfort your inner tween angst, and some lighter vegetable and seafood dishes should you have a “healthy” person accompanying you.

Iza Ramen started out as a pop-up at Blowfish Sushi in the Mission, but they've moved to a standalone location in the Lower Haight. It's a little more stylish than your typical ramen operation (flowers in mini mason jars on the tables, etc.), and there are tons of beer and sake options. Beyond that, it's pretty standard: tables and booths that aren’t made for sitting for a long time, and food that comes out at a shockingly fast clip. Japanese efficiency at its finest.

To find some of the city's best ramen in an area that's not the Mission or Japantown? That's a big deal for us.

So do yourself a favor - when you’re feeling down or insecure or worried that the boy in your General Assembly class doesn’t even notice you, just head to Iza. It's ramen for your soul.

Food Rundown

Sesame Cucumber

Crisp, well-marinated, and refreshing. Get some for the table to balance out all the fried things coming later.


OCTOBALLS. This is an incredible thing to eat. Creamy balls of fried octopus with some nori and a delicious sauce on top. You can’t really tell it’s octopus, so even a picky person would eat this. Don’t feel bad if you trick them into it.

Tuna Poke Salad

This plate of sesame oil-marinated tuna tossed with mixed greens is solid, but by no means a must order. A word of advice to save time: just stab the poke cubes with your chopsticks.

Karage Fried Chicken

Sold to us hard, and we are suckers for fried chicken. Sadly, it’s just sub-par fried chicken that’s slightly soggy. It's accompanied by some flavorless dipping sauce. Don’t be duped, skip it.

Tori Chili Rice

This is the real deal. It’s cheap, filling, and could probably be a meal on its own. The fried chicken is coated in a spicy sauce, the sticky rice is a delight, and the green onions, kimchi, and nori bring it home. Still thinking about this.

Iza Ramen

We will drink this ramen broth from golden goblets when we go to Heaven (50% shot that’s happening). The standard offering with green onions, sprouts, nori, excellent barbecue pork, and an egg is amazing, but if you want to go hog wild you can add lots of fixings. Either way it rules.

Iza Tsukumen

Bamboo shoots, chicken, and sauce to dip your noodles in make for an excellent experience. Since dipping noodles usually ends up splattering broth everywhere, we just pour it over the noodles. Very good, just not quite as good as the ramen.

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