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Ramenwell Opens in the Mission With Spicy Ramen and Matcha Soft Serve

Plus ramen with 4505-smoked chashu pork

Gino Lucas

Ramenwell is now open at 3378 18th Street, ending a six-month dry spell at the former Mission District home of Ken Ken Ramen (which closed in April). The new restaurant comes from chef/owner Harold Jurado, who moved to the Bay Area from his native Chicago after leading popular (but now-closed) Yusho and innovative izakaya restaurant Chizakaya. His new restaurant is still a work in progress, the restaurateur says, but he’s eager to get his feet wet in the new space.

Diners at Ramenwell will find the old Ken Ken seriously reimagined. “We wanted something a little cleaner to focus on the food and beverages,” Jurado says. Elements includes a dark, ebonized oak bar and tables. “There’s still a good amount that needs to be done on design, but just like the menu, it will evolve.”

For now, that menu focuses on three types of ramen broth: Vegetarian, poultry-based, and pork-based. The vegetarian options are a mushroom-based broth and a spicier vegetarian tantanmen version. Then there’s chicken tantanmen — spicy broth with ground chicken and ground turkey — and standard tori paitan with the advent of turkey chashu, a take on the flavors of classic braised pork belly for those who don’t eat pork.

Those who do, however, might consider the 20 hour tonkotsu broth. That’s served with chashu made from Kurobuta pork belly, cured and marinated at Ramenwell, then brought to 4505 Burgers & BBQ, where it’s smoked. “We wanted to collaborate with our friends in the industry,” says Jurado.

Bowls of ramen are $14 for veggie or chicken and $15 for pork, and come with a side of pickles — a palate refresher and dash of acid to cut through the fat in the broth.

Appetizers, served alongside ramen like sides, cost $5 to $17. Those include daikon and little gem salads and larger composed dishes like wagyu tataki carpaccio (thinly sliced, seared beef) and hamachi served sashimi style with umeboshi and bone marrow.

For dessert, a soft serve machine — a hit at one of Jurado’s Chicago establishments— swirls matcha and taro flavors. As Ramenwell polishes up its interior and hones its menu, Jurado is inviting feedback from customers.

Ramenwell’s hours are Monday to Thursday from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m., and Friday and Saturday 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. (closed Sundays).