I'd been to Maru Ichi three to four times so far, and I couldn't believe I forgot it to review it the first time. But I guess it is a good thing because I got to try different ramen each time! Maru Ichi is usually packed when go at lunch or dinner time, and they don't really accept reservation, so go early.
The menu consists of ramen as well as combo that comes with gyoza, california roll and salmon roe over rice and such. So far, I have tried their Shoyu Ramen, their famous Kuro Ramen, Spicy Miso Ramen and their Hiyayashi Chuka cold noodle, which is only available in the summer. I have also tried the gyoza and california roll. The awesome thing about this place is that they made their ramen fresh. They even have a machine and a man in one of the see through room just for making ramen!
Shoyu Ramen. The noodle at Maru Ichi is thinner than most ramen house I've tried. Despite the noodle's thinness, it is super chewy! The shoyu soup tasted okay, nothing really stands out. The chashu (braised pork flank/belly) was not super fatty, and it was tender and tasty.
Kuro Ramen - This is Maru Ichi's top seller. It is also one of the most unique ramen soup base I have yet to taste. The soup is black because it is made out of grinded black sesame and tons of garlic, which add some seriously flavor to the broth. The bowl is topped with raw bean sprout which can be cooked in the hot soup broth. Oh yes, don't forget to bring gum if you are going to try this!
Spicy Miso Ramen - The soup was very tasty! But yes, the noodle and condiments were the same as the other ramen. The broth was spicy in that I had to blow my nose once at some point, but not spicy enough that I had to drink water like crazy. Disclaimer: I have high spicy tolerance though.
Hiyashi Chuka - This is a cold noodle dish that is only offered in the summer time. It is a plate of noodle serves with egg, sliced cucumber, sliced chashu, corn, bean sprout, bamboo shoot, dried seaweed and wakame (fresh seaweed salad). Hiyashi Chuka is very hard to make despite its simplicity because usually a broth flavors the noodle, but without the broth, the noodle will taste starchy and super slimey if it wasn't cooked right. At Maru Ichi, the cold noodle tasted just okay for me, not because of the starch but of the wakame. The marinated seaweed salad just overpowered the whole noodle.
The gyoza was deep fried which was okay for me also because I never liked deep fried gyoza, only pan fried. Nevertheless, the center was delicious. The California Roll is just okay. It seems like it was rolled a head of time and in a fast pace, so there's no presentation there. Last but not least, did I mention they put a jar of kimchi on the side? Oh yes, all you can eat kimchi!!!
All in all, I would definitely go back, but only for the hot soupy ramen.
There is another Maru Ichi in Milpitas, CA.Address: 530 Barber Lane, Milpitas, CA. (408) 434-5991