I’ve talked at length about how challenging it can be to find great lunch spots in Silicon Valley, but one item I’ve found no shortage of is ramen. And the competition is fierce. I’ve already been to Orenchi which I claimed to be the very best ramen-ya in the Bay Area, but sometimes I just don’t have the luxury or time to kill two hours to drive, wait in line, and eat lunch. Sometime I need something just a bit faster. That’s where places like Maru Ichi and nearby Shalala in Mountain View come in handy. Once again Mountain View is coming to my lunchtime rescue!
We showed up to Shalala at 12:30 – during prime lunch hours – put our name on the clipboard, and were miraculously seated in under five minutes. There was no hour-long wait for a bowl like at Orenchi, though I’ve already said that I think that line is admittedly worth it. But again, sometimes you just can’t sink that kind of time into lunch and Shalala can quench that ramen craving without a line.
I started the meal off with order of Karaage – my go-to ramen side – which came served with a lemon slice and a big squirt of kewpie mayo. These big nuggets of fried dark meat chicken were tasty and moist, but I’ve definitely had better – even at Maru Ichi which is only a block away. These meaty fried chicken morsels were a solid starter nonetheless.
Then it was time for the real reason we were there – the ramen. Shalala offers a variety of ramen styles, but I knew exactly what I was gonna get as soon as I saw the menu. For my main, I went with a small (it’s not actually that small) Shalala Spicy Miso Ramen. I chose a level 1 out of 3 for the spice level, which I found was perfect for adding the spicy flavor to the broth without roasting my innards.
The dense and slightly spicy miso broth was excellent – really top notch – and the noodles were springy and served at a perfectly al dente texture. Those elements were definitely the highlights of the bowl. The egg and other toppings were solid, but the chashu pork was a bit disappointing. It was somehow both fatty and tough – I don’t even know how that’s possible. This pork was nothing like the lusciously dreamy stuff I’ve had before with other bowls of ramen. I’ve definitely had better char siu elsewhere. I still left happy though.
All in all, I really did enjoy this bowl of spicy miso ramen at Shalala, but I think I probably loved my meal at the nearby ramen shop Maru Ichi even more. So, next time I’m looking for a lineless Silicon Valley ramen fix, I think I’d probably return to Maru Ichi instead.
Got another solid ramen joint in Silicon Valley that I should check out? Let me know in the comments below.
698 W. Dana St. Mountain View, CA 94041