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This Prime Valencia Street Space Will be Taken Over by a San Mateo Ramen Legend

Taishoken, the Japanese shop that pioneered tsukemen ramen, will take over the lease at the former Mau location

Ramen at Taishoken.
Ramen at Taishoken.
Patricia Chang
Paolo Bicchieri is a reporter at Eater SF writing about Bay Area restaurant and bar trends, coffee and cafes, and pop-ups.

It’s been a few years since Masayasu Sakaguchi’s ramen shop came to the states from Nakano, Japan, making San Mateo the first North American outpost. Now Sakaguchi’s grandson, Yoshihiro Sakagachi, says the Mission District is the next destination for Taishoken’s second U.S. restaurant. Sakaguchi is taking over the former Mau location at 665 Valencia Street for what he calls a “little more upscale” rendition of his South Bay restaurant, which is set to open in July. He says that his hopes for a second location were waylaid during the pandemic as it was all hands on deck at the San Mateo location. There was no time to get another restaurant up and running, but just as operations at the restaurant smoothed out he came across this new space. “I’ve been looking since before the pandemic,” Sakaguchi says. “I finally found the location this year. There’s a lot of traffic, and we really like the atmosphere.”

The roughly 2,500-square-foot space has had its fair share of drama with its former tenant going through closings and reopenings well before the pandemic descended. At some point during the last few years, Mau downsized to just its 180 Spear Street outpost. Sakaguchi says they hope to have about 50 seats in addition to a small bar. Speaking of the bar, he says sake cocktails and upscale sides will be important to the new location’s success, but beyond those items the menu still centers on tsukemen, cold ramen noodles that are dipped into hot broth — a style of ramen that Sakaguchi’s family originated in Nakano — and will be much the same as the first location.

Sakaguchi says the recent Valencia Street closures — with string lights, pop-up merchants, and ongoing music and poetry performances — gave him and the team all the more reason to move on this space. That said, he feels the opportunity to have an exciting outdoor addition to the restaurant’s indoor seating options has come and gone, and will not be installing a parklet. Sakaguchi says the restaurant will be open Wednesday through Sunday for dinner to start in July, but the hope is to offer his family’s world famous ramen seven days a week. “We’ve had a lot of support,” Sakaguchi says. “We want to bring ramen to this new community. It’s a great chance for us to share our authentic Japanese ramen, something good.”