Welcome to our site. It is not the official site of Hapa Ramen, but it is a tribute to them. Hapa Ramen have now closed for business, but it was very good while it lasted!
Hapa Ramen was a unique restaurant in San Francisco, in the fact that it didn’t have one particular location, at least until the latter years. In the start, this restaurant would pop up wherever they were invited!
While they are slightly elusive in this sense, Hapa Ramen were well worth tracking down. If you were in the know, then you would know where to find them! On Tuesdays and Thursdays they would be found at the Ferry Building Farmer’s Market, just for lunch so you had to get there between 10am and 2pm. On Friday you could enjoy Hapa Ramen in the evening with a visit to Off the Grid in Fort Mason between 5pm and 9pm. If you wanted your Hapa Ramen at any other times, well the only option was to throw a party of your own and hire them to serve their delicious dishes at your function! That was sure to impress your guests!
The fantastic locally sourced ingredients
The quality of the food made Hapa Ramen stand out from the crowd. All their meat, from the tasty pork to the mouth watering chicken was organic and locally raised. The vegetables were also all local and seasonal vegetables were always used. Some of the local farms they used included Star Route, Dirty Girl, Catalan, Serendipity, Marin Roots and Knoll. Hapa Ramen had a great ethos. They really wanted to support local businesses. They also believed that local food would be fresher, and therefore tastier. There really was no other option if Hapa Ramen was to be superb, and it was.
The advanced cooking techniques
It could be tempting with ramen to keep it simple, but this certainly wasn’t the case with Hapa Ramen. They would use all the latest cooking techniques to great effect. Sous vide, and low temperature stock making were all used widely in the creation of their spectacular ramen dishes. Their egg dishes were a speciality, and when you discover the long winded cooking technique they used for them, you’ll understand why they were so special. They discovered that to create the ultimate egg to accompany ramen, you needed to cook it on a low heat for a full hour! This gave you a nice rounded egg, but with a creamy, runny yolk. Ideal for your ramen.
A lot of trial and error went into creating their final recipe for the broth. They were determined to keep experimenting until they found the perfect balance between the fatty taste of pork and the sweetness of dashi. They finally cracked it and their broth recipe was a real winner.
Noodles by hand
While they were happy to use modern experimental techniques, their noodles were always simply made. Using nothing other than eggs, water and flour, they were made entirely by hand and cooked al dente.
Their goal was to create a new type of ramen bowl, and they certainly succeeded.
The menu items – small but well selected
There were only four items on the menu for Hapa Ramen. While this didn’t give you a huge amount of choice, each dish was divine, and there was a vegetarian option too. The most filling dish on the menu was the Big Daddy Ramen Bowl. This included both slow cooked pork and fried chicken along with an egg and of course plenty of seasonal vegetables. Then there was Hapa Ramen’s Slow Cooked Pork Ramen Bowl. This was made with succulent slow cooked pork shoulder and vegetables. You could also add in an egg if you were feeling extra hungry. The Fried Chicken Ramen Bowl was really delicious too. This included crispy fried chicken and vegetables, with the option of adding in one of their lovely slow cooked eggs. Finally, there was the Miso Market Bowl. This vegetarian dish was packed full of assorted vegetables and if you wanted an egg in it, that was an option too. This was good, honest food.
After several years of having their pop-up restaurant in the Farmer’s Market, Hapa Ramen finally opened a permanent restaurant on Mission Street. Sadly, after just four months, they closed down. Such a shame. The new restaurant was amazing. It had a full bar, and they had some expensive cooking kit that could have meant a huge expansion to the business, a robata grill and a real Japanese noodle machine were part of the gear they bought for the new restaurant. It was relationship issues that finally put the nail in the coffin of the business. It had moved too far from its roots. With the bricks and mortar restaurant, it was now very important to pay off the investment that had been made and keep on top of the bills. Honesty and integrity along with quality of ingredients began to slip. The final push that made the staff turn on their heels and chef Richie Nakano leave under a cloud, was when they were told to put the asparagus on a smaller plate to make it look like a bigger portion, after a customer had mentioned that it was not good value for money.
We mourn the demise of the original Hapa Ramen. Those simple, yet elegant and infinitely tasty bowls of delight. We liked the lack of choice. We all had our favorites and we knew what we were going to order. Whether you popped in for lunch or you wanted a warming bowl of ramen for supper. Hapa Ramen never disappointed.
We’ve been gathering your comments about Hapa Ramen and this is what you told us. We loved to hear all your memories about one of San Francisco’s best loved ramen restaurants.
“I always went to the Farmer’s Market down at the Ferry Buildings every Thursday. A bowl of fried chicken noodles from Hapa Ramen was the highlight of the visit. Refreshing in the warm weather, yet comforting when it was cold, I never got bored of these ramen noodles.”
“Hapa Ramen once catered for a party I had. They were friendly and efficient and the food was amazing. True professionals, and their heart was definitely in the quality of the food. It was truly made with love!”
“Such a shame they closed down. I never got to visit the restaurant on Mission Street, I never found the time and now it’s gone I’ve missed my chance. Friends told me it was pretty cool and the menu had been extended once they got proper premises. I did though go eat with them often at Off the Grid. It was a great night out. You always got a warm and friendly welcome and a bowl of ramen made ‘just so’. It was a work of art, as beautiful to look at as it was to eat.“
These days there are plenty of places you can get ramen from if you look hard enough. I love ramen and so I’ve tried many of them. While there are some great places I’d certainly recommend. I feel as if I was spoilt by having Hapa Ramen in my life. Now every time I eat ramen, I can’t help but compare it to that which I ate at Hapa Ramen! Yes it’s good, but is it quite as good as Hapa Ramen’s Big Daddy Bowl? I don’t know, it may just be that it’s better in my memory than it really was, but I’m sure it was as special as I’m remembering it. It was just really unique. That was the thing. I don’t think you could ever recreate that special flavor they had with the broth. It just captivated my taste buds and I’ve never found anything that has quite the same effect since.
I really wish I’d thrown a party and had Hapa Ramen come sling noodles for me and my guests. Perhaps on an anniversary or a special birthday. It would have made some fantastic memories and it would also have introduced more people to the joy that was Hapa Ramen!
I do hope the Hapa Ramen staff are well and happy and have found alternative employment. They were such a great bunch they deserve to do well in life and would be an asset to any other restaurant . If I see any of them on my travels, they’ll certainly be getting a good tip from me!