Feast: Mapu tofu ramen - Page 2

A love story in a bowl
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Genki Ramen
Photo by Rory McNamara

The sauce is ever so slightly sweet and oyster sauce–ish, and soup delivers a distinct, radiating kick of space. Later the waitress tells me the cooks simmer pork and garlic all day to make the tonkatsu broth. Spice-snorting bliss — a marriage of the bland, serviceable refinement of tofu and the oily goodness of pork. This is every vegan's nightmare, though unlike bacon-wrapped tofu, one gone deliciously right.

I venture out in search of more, on the rumor that Suzu Noodle House (1825 Post, SF. 415-346-5083) in Japantown and Katana-ya (430 Geary, SF. 415-771-1280) near Union Square serve spicy tofu ramen that compares. But no such luck. Suzu aims to please with a fine broth and toothsome noodles, but the spice level lacks the red-faced power of Genki. And Katana-ya's spicy tofu ramen is more of a kimchi tofu ramen, sporting bits of pickled cabbage. It can be considered the soupy counterpart to its kimchi fried rice.

And so it's back to Genki we go: if some Sichuan chili fans are right, getting healthy should always involve such a delicious sweat.

>>More Feast: The Guardian Guide to Bay Area Dining and Drinking

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