One shot: Ramen burger – is it worth the hype?

    Through words of mouth (from a kid that comes to my office hour, to be precise), I learned that the ramen burger is here in Berkeley. Hah, you don’t have to be in LA or NY or SF to eat this (relatively) new craze(*). Mashable has a guide to make it yourself, but why go through the trouble when you can buy it?

    Unlike all other hypes that turn out to be various degrees of meh (in no order, truffles, caviar, foie gras, Cheeseboard, M.Y. China, Fentons, et cetera), the ramen burger is delicious. I gorged it down, completely defeated. Farewell, my hype-bashing days.

    So Oishi in Berkeley dishes out 3 types of ramen burgers ($9 each): pulled pork (with wasabi mayo), grilled chicken (with ginger miso sauce), and the usual beef patty (with teriyaki sauce). (You can ask them to swap the sauce.) We had enough sense to avoid the chicken burger (who wouldn’t?!), and were split between pork and beef. Both types contain sauteed mushroom and come with “Japanese fries” (katsuobushi and Japanese mayo). Both sides finished with complete satisfaction.

    They give you fork and knife, too, because unless you’re very skilled (or just take mousy bites), the burger will fall apart sooner or later and you get a sort of yakisoba with meat. Still delicious, just harder to eat by hand.

    A personal plus: So Oishi sprouted from the same spot that used to house my old favorite (albeit barely average) Berkel Berkel.
    A not-so-personal minus: they claim to be “the very first authentic Japanese ramen soup, ramen bun burger and sushi burrito restaurant… in Berkeley, CA”. Well if you want to be authentic, make sure you can spell. “Oishii” (おいしい、which means “delicious”) has two i’s, not one.

    Good fries, though!

    Address: So Oishi
    2428 Telegraph Ave (next to Thai Noodle 2 and across the street from Rasputin Music)
    Berkeley, CA
    (510) 644-8278

    Foodnote: (*) Keizo Shimamoto first invented it in NY late July – it’s been that long already?!

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    4 comments to One shot: Ramen burger – is it worth the hype?

    • Bob

      Oishi can be spelled either way, but, that has a lot less to do with the fact that there have been other ramen places in Berkeley. Admittedly, long gone by most people memories.

      Oddly, I have zero desire to try a ramen burger, but, I do not consider foie, truffles, Fentons or Cheeseboard to be hype. Okay, maybe Fentons is not great ice cream, but, it is what it is. OF course, these things are very personal.

    • Yes, I’m sure there are other ramen places in Berkeley, this place is just trying to sound hip, which kinda irks me. I shouldn’t go into a language debate here though, but I’m certain that the correct dictionary spelling of oishii is oishii. Of course, when spoken, it can sound like oishi, or maybe it’s someone’s name?
      Why don’t you want to try the ramen burger? When people (especially girls) say “OMG you HAVE to try it”, then I (used to) get my hope up and 99% of the time it’s just a hype, that’s what happened with Fentons and Cheeseboard for me…

    • Bob

      The thing to remember is that it is a Romanization of a language that does not end up pronounced the same as the English language. Thus, the Japanese I grew up with spelled it in a multitude of ways. Romanization of the word is far more common now, so there may well be a given spelling. That being said, of course, you must have certainly noticed, that Americans spell a lot of things however they please.

      Now, to why no Ramen Burger, is simply doesn’t appeal to me. The idea, nor the visual, has any appeal to me. It feels like ‘stunt food’ to me. And, there are so many things out there, and places out there, that I do want to try, and may well never get to them, I can’t see trying something that does not intrigue me.

    • Well, the ramen burger is certainly no work of art. It is what it is, an alternative to bread burger, like soft taco vs. crunchy taco. I like it because of the crunch of the ramen bun, and it’s also a lot more savory than bread. Of course, I understand what you mean by not trying something that doesn’t intrigue, I’m like that too.

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