Ramen Marathon Pt. 7: Ramen Yamadaya Downtown San Diego


Address: 531 Broadway, San Diego, CA 92101
Date Visited:
# of Marathoners:
14 (Alli, Jayzee, Jenn, Jenne, Jess, John, Laura, Matt, Melissa, Michael, Miko, Sarah H, Sarah P, Trinh)

1: I hated it  ♦ 2: I did not like it ♦ 3: I am neutral ♦ 4: I liked it ♦ 5: I loved it

  • Overall: 3.93
  • Noodle: 3.98
  • Broth: 3.71
  • Meat: 4.11
  • Egg: 3.93
  • Other Toppings: 3.93


  • Order: Kakuni Ramen with Tonkotsu Shoyu, shared with Sarah P
  • Overall Score: 4
  • Noodle: Good, well cooked. Thin noodles though … 3
  • Broth: Really good. Side sauce of garlic which is great. 4
  • Meat: Great. Mostly fat — wonderful. 5
  • Egg: Good texture and yolk flavor. White not marinated but still good. 4
  • Other Toppings: Really good bamboo. 4
  • Service: A little surly but good.
  • Ambience: Great. Feels appropriate for downtown.
  • Other Food: Chicken is delicious. Good mayonnaise.
  • Impression/Would You Come Here Again? Really good. Yes. It was a solid good ramen.


  • Order: Tonkotsu Shio
  • Overall Score: 3.5
  • Noodle: Flour!!! What??!!! 5
  • Broth: Tonkotsu, meh. 3.5
  • Meat: Meh. 3.5
  • Egg: Taste like scrambled eggs? Weird. 3
  • Other Toppings: Meh. Bamboo good. 3.5
  • Impression/Would You Come Here Again? No. Probably not. Good control.


  • Order: Yamadaya Ramen with Tonkotsu Shio, shared with Michael
  • Overall Score: 4
  • Noodle: Al dente, good texture. 5
  • Broth: Not too salty, good smooth + fatty mouthfeel. Not as much depth as I would like. 4
  • Meat: Chasiu is bland but tender. Kakuni (pork belly) is nice. 3
  • Egg: Cooked perfectly. Could use a bit more seasoning. 4
  • Other Toppings: 4
  • Price: A little expensive for combo.
  • Service: Very attentive + friendly. Accommodating to large group (splitting checks).
  • Ambience: Smallish space, but feels cozy and similar to small Tokyo restaurants.
  • Other Food: Kara-age — so delicious! Crispy + juicy, better than what we had in Tokyo! Combo side salad + ikura + rice — very tasty, good texture ikura + rice.
  • Impression/Would You Come Here Again? Yes. Definitely for karaage! Ramen was above average too. Ramen wasn’t the star, but a good place overall.


  • Order: Tonkotsu Shio + Chili Sauce
  • Overall Score: 2.5
  • Noodle: Nice and firm. 4
  • Broth: Tasteless but also greasy. 2
  • Meat: Nice texture but flavorless. 3
  • Egg: Really good texture + egg yolk flavor! Could use more marinade. 4.5
  • Other Toppings: The chili sauce tasted good by itself but you could barely taste it in the broth. 2
  • Service: Great!! Friendly but not intrusive. Separate checks yay!
  • Ambience: Pleasant + cosy, no annoying music. Comfy booth.
  • Other Food: ☆ FUCK YEAH KARAAGE ☆
  • Impression/Would You Come Here Again? Yes. But not for ramen. Cozy atmosphere + chicken FTW. I wish I’d gotten the spicy level 3!


  • Order: Tonkotsu Spicy Level 3
  • Overall Score: 3
  • Noodle: Slightly crunchy noodles. 3
  • Broth: Flavorful, chili mixed well. 4
  • Meat: TENDER. 5
  • Egg: Best part of the meal. 5
  • Other Toppings: 5
  • Service: Decent.
  • Ambience: WARM.
  • Impression/Would You Come Here Again? Yes. Not very spicy but above average place. Ordered level 3. Got 1.75.


  • Order: Tonkotsu Kotteri
  • Overall Score: 4.5
  • Noodle: Different. 4.5
  • Broth: BEST IN SAN DIEGO. 5
  • Meat: YUM. 4.5
  • Egg: Melts in my mouth. 5
  • Other Toppings: 4
  • Price: Slightly more $$, but worth it.
  • Service: We were a mess of a big group, but they kept up.
  • Ambience: Could be a few degrees cooler.
  • Other Food: Karaage was bomb!
  • Impression/Would You Come Here Again? Yes.


  • Order: Yamadaya Ramen with Tonkotsu Shoyu, shared with Miko
  • Overall Score: 5
  • Noodle: Flour noodles are thin and surprisingly firm and delicious. Perfect texture. 5
  • Broth: Bomb. Dark garlic sauce on one side with regular shoyu tonkotsu broth. Fatty and everything I like in a broth. 5
  • Meat: Chasiu was thin but has presence. And was very tender and tasty. Kakuni was good but not as good. 4.5
  • Egg: I think that egg was old because it tasted off to me. Also underseasoned although well soft-boiled. 2
  • Other Toppings: The nori, seaweed, bamboo shoots, green onions, dark garlic sauce were good. I especially liked the seaweed + bamboo shoots as sides. However, when I ate the seaweed/kelp with the ramen + broth, it overpowered too much. Wait, now I’m back on the kelp train. It helps cut + diversify as you eat to the end your bowl. 4.5
  • Price: Expensive but worth it. It was also a good portion. 
  • Service: They put 5 tables together for us. It was good, no-frills service.
  • Ambience: Even though this is downtown, and I hate going downtown, the warm glow of the lightbulbs and wood and black colors remind me of a restaurant in Japan. You kinda relax here and forget about your day. X-factor!
  • Other Food: Karaage was nice, crispy, and yum.
  • Impression/Would You Come Here Again? Yes. But only if I am carpooling because I ain’t parking downtown.


  • Order: Tonkotsu Spicy Level 3
  • Overall Score: 4
  • Noodle: 3.75
  • Broth: The spice overpowered everything else. 4.5
  • Meat: Meat was good but wanted more. 3.5
  • Egg: 3
  • Other Toppings: Jalapenos! So spicy so good. 5
  • Service: They split our checks, and brought the food quickly, as well as kept my water filled which is important for spicy food.
  • Other Food: Kara-age was really good.
  • Impression/Would You Come Here Again? Yes. Maybe not downtown location.


  • Order: Yamadaya Ramen with Tonkotsu Shio, shared with Trinh
  • Overall Score: 4
  • Noodle: Very good! 4
  • Broth: A little too fishy and needs to be hotter. 3
  • Meat: Cooked very well. The pork belly was especially good. 5
  • Egg: Really good and a little sweet. Cooked well. 5
  • Other Toppings: Bamboo — OK. Mushroom — odd texture. 3
  • Service: Very attentive.
  • Ambience: I like that it’s a little dark and seedy. I also like its rustic feel.
  • Other Food: Kara-age — really amazing!
  • Impression/Would You Come Here Again? Yes. I liked despite some items that I did not enjoy. It’s really good and the ambience is cool. I like that it’s not too crowded on a Friday night.


  • Order: Yamadaya Ramen with Tonkotsu Shio, shared with Jenn
  • Overall Score: 4
  • Noodle: Undercooked. Too crunchy. White flour. 3
  • Broth: Thick. A wee bit salty. 3
  • Meat: Tender. Okay flavor. 3
  • Egg: Well-cooked. Flavor was okay. 3
  • Other Toppings: 4
  • Price: A little expensive, but good value.
  • Service: Pretty empty for a Friday night. Quick service.
  • Ambience: Cozy. Very authentic!
  • Impression/Would You Come Here Again? Yes. Better than the sum of its parts.


  • Order: Yamadaya Ramen with Tonkotsu Shoyu, shared with Laura
  • Overall Score: 4.5
  • Noodle: Flour. Booo. But these are good! Nice and firm! 5
  • Broth: Just okay. 3
  • Meat: Meat is excellent. Soft chashu! Kakuni is also good, but I might like the chashu better. 4.5
  • Egg: Egg tastes like it’s only marinated in sake. Cold. Soft-boiled, but not my fave. 3
  • Other Toppings: The green onion is nice. Nori is also pleasant. 4
  • Service: Very accommodating of our giant group. This guy is my favorite server so far — not too nice or overfriendly, but efficient.
  • Ambience: This feels very like a Japanese ramen place. My favorite so far in ambience. No music, which I like. It feels like I’m at happy hour in Japan.
  • Other Food: Karaage is GREAT. Very nicely fried. Not as much ginger flavoring as Sakura, which I favor, but up there as the best karaage in San Diego.
  • Impression/Would You Come Here Again? Yes. I like the vibe, and the ramen is one of the better ones. Am tempted by the idea of wontons as a ramen topping.

Sarah H

  • Order: Tonkotsu Shoyu + Kakuni Pork + Fresh Garlic
  • Overall Score: 4
  • Noodle: Lacks texture. 3
  • Broth: Fatty, maybe too fatty. 4
  • Meat: Abundant! A lot of pork belly + pork. 4
  • Egg: Creamy + flavorful. 5
  • Other Toppings: Raw garlic came whole with a press! Very cool/hands-on. 5
  • Price: Fair given the amount of meat.
  • Service: Very good, responsive, helpful. (May be biased by rating sheets.)
  • Ambience: Friendly, casual.
  • Other Food: Karaage chx so good!
  • Impression/Would You Come Here Again? No. Only because it’s downtown + I hate downtown.

Sarah P

  • Order: Kakuni Ramen with Tonkotsu Shoyu, shared with Alli
  • Overall Score: 4
  • Noodle: Thin + chewy. 3.5
  • Broth: Creamy with a secret black garlic surprise. 4
  • Meat: Very thick, with possibly more gooey fat than meat. 4
  • Egg: The yolk is liquid perfection, but the white is pretty flavorless. 3.5
  • Other Toppings: Bamboo shoots, LOTS of green onion, giant seaweed. 3
  • Price:
  • Service: Hands-off but friendly.
  • Ambience: Metropolitan subway shop.
  • Other Food: Beer comes in a bottle, but they give you a pre-chilled glass — nice touch. Fried chicken was bomb.
  • Impression/Would You Come Here Again? Yes.


  • Order: Yamadaya Ramen with Tonkotsu Shio, shared with Melissa
  • Overall Score: 4
  • Noodle: Maybe a little undercooked? 4
  • Broth: Nothing special. 3
  • Meat: Chashu + pork belly. Both flavorful and fatty! 5
  • Egg: A little runny on the inside. 5
  • Other Toppings: 4
  • Price: Expensive for what you get. Worth the price? Nah.
  • Service: Attentive. Ramen came out fast.
  • Ambience: Feels like it’s Japanese.
  • Other Food: Kara-age was bomb!
  • Impression/Would You Come Here Again? No. Would rather go to other places that are better and cheaper. I feel that the Clairemont location is better though (in terms of quality of food/taste).

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