Ramen Champ isn’t that kind of shop. The other more traditional styles that it offers, like its tonkotsu and its soupless, fat-slicked mazesoba, are all top of the line for the Bay Area. As for the Jiro-style Buta MAX, once I got past the shock factor of the portion size, all I could do was marvel at what a well balanced and artfully crafted bowl of ramen it was.
Like the original Jiro ramen, its foundation is a clear, shoyu (soy sauce-based) pork broth that’s surprisingly light on the palate. The little nubs of slow-simmered pork fat, perhaps the most luxurious of the toppings, serves a secondary function of flavoring the soup while it steeps, so that the broth becomes richer and more intense over the course of the meal. The noodles are custom-made by Iseya Craft Noodle, a Hayward-based noodle maker that provides fresh ramen noodles for a handful of top-tier Bay Area ramen shops. In the classic Jiro style, the noodles are thick and wide so that they can hold their texture while you work your way through the mountain of vegetables. They have a delightful bounce and chew that remind me of hand-pulled Chinese noodles.
Mostly, though, what makes the Buta MAX memorable are those toppings — the classic combination of well-seasoned bean sprouts and tender, fatty pork and the addicting pungency of the raw garlic, which keeps you coming back for another spoonful, and then another, until, to your great surprise, you’ve somehow managed to finish the entire massive bowl. By the time you trudge back to your car, slightly woozy, you’re already thinking about when you’ll come back.
Could such an extreme style of ramen be the next big food trend here in Northern California? In the copycat world of Bay Area ramen, stranger things have happened. Already, Ramen Champ’s Takahashi says, a couple of other South Bay ramen shops have added versions to their menu. But for now, their restaurant is the only one that truly specializes in the Jiro style.
“It’s our bestseller,” Takahashi says.
News Source: https://www.kqed.org/arts/13926203/ramen-champ-jiro-style-ramen-cult-san-jose-tokyo