One of my top choices for Japanese ramen is Santouka. Why? Because their ramen is so authentic! The first bowl of Santouka I ever had was back in January of 2008 in Los Angeles, and then some in San Diego. Yup, it was very memorable because it was so good! After they opened one in the Japanese supermarket, Mitsuwa in San Jose late this year, I couldn't wait to go get myself a couple bowls!
The reason I said Santouka ramen is pretty authentic is because one, they stick with basic soup bases, such as shoyu, miso and shio. It doesn't matter which soup bases you get, they are all very, very rich in flavor! Second is that their soup is super duper oily (like those in Japan)! The oil definitely keep the ramen and soup hot and tasty. Every bite was hot! Third, they offer side bowl of hearty rice with toppings, which you can order separately. The toppings for those rice is very Japanese. They include green onions, or diced up chashu, or ikura (salmon roe), or even natto (fermented soybeans)!
The soup is hot and rich. It is so, so good...I always drink a lot of it. The noodle is pretty yellow, thin and chewy, and taste very homemade. The chashu is very fatty, thus very tender. It is on a saltier side.
Natto Over Rice - Really strong in smell, and very slimey. It is definitely something that need to be aquire in taste. I did not like it very much.
Ikura Over Rice - The ikura was pretty fresh. Ikura is usually salty, so it certainly adds flavor to the rice.
The only "bad" thing about Santouka is that, there is always a wait. In a way, it's psychological because you usually have to wait for your food in a restaurant, but since Santouka is like at a food court in a supermarket, you would think it would be fast like food court at the malls. There is always a wait because there are always a lot of people who order before you, and they make it when you order it.
If I am in that area, I would go get my bowl of Santouka ramen.