Oakland restaurants: Smoked duck ramen, green-tea ramen arrives at Mensho

The Tokyo-based chain serves luxury ramen with toppings like smoked A5 wagyu, snow crab and porcini.

A line had formed outside the new Mensho ramen in Oakland long before the 5 p.m. dinner opening this week. Diners had gathered to sample the Tokyo-based chain’s elevated ramen, which featured delectable ingredients such as A5 wagyu, porcini mushrooms, sea urchin, and snow crab.

Mensho owns and operates a popular ramen shop in San Francisco (as well as a smaller operation in the X/Twitter building). Mensho took over the East Bay location previously occupied by the venerable Chinese-American joint, Little Shin Shin. Large glass windows allow onlookers to see ramen experts prepare their steaming soups. A sign by the door introduces founding chef Tomoharu Shono, who “has been experimenting with pork bone soup at home since he was in high school,” and who opened his first restaurant in Tokyo at the age of 25.

The Smoked Toripaitan ($23) is Mensho’s signature ramen, with a rich chicken broth, smoked seasoned egg, smoked Kurobuta pork chashu, smoked A5 wagyu, smoked duck, king oyster mushrooms, charcoal negi, and – wait for it – “OG truffle sauce.” “Enjoy the change in flavors while you eat, as the smokiness blends into the soup,” the menu suggests.

A5 Wagyu Shoyu ($36) with porcini, aged katsuobushi soup, kioke wooden-barrel soy sauce, and semi-dried roasted tomatoes is available. Draculas should avoid the Garlic Knock Out ($21), which uses garlic in five different ways: chips, fresh, flakes, roasted, and blackened garlic oil. Then there are the out-of-the-box ramens, such as the Spicy Lamb Miso Cumin ($21) with fenugreek and garlic chives, and the vegan Matcha Ramen ($21) in vegetable broth with Kyoto green-tea powder, fresh spinach, and shiitake and oyster mushrooms.

As an appetizer, there are two chilled mini-ramens available, one with snow crab and salmon roe ($22) and the other with corn, Hokkaido sea urchin, caviar, and white truffle oil ($24). And bar-friendly appetizers like karaage chicken, nori calamari, and enoki-mushroom chips should go well with the restaurant’s local draft beers and sake, such as San Francisco’s Sequoia draft sake made with Sacramento Valley rice and H2O from “the glacier-carved Yosemite watershed.”

Open 5-10 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday at 4258 Piedmont Ave., Oakland; menshopiedmont.com.

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