The Emeryville restaurant scene may have just got another feather in its cap with the soon to open Yuzu Ramen & Broffee. My initial thought going in to this review was “I wonder if they’re jumping on the ramen bandwagon?” joining recent local establishments Shiba Ramen and a plethora of others. Much to my delight, I was dead wrong. Co-Founder Steven Yamaji grew up in Japan and explained his lifelong dream to bring authentic Japanese cuisine to his adopted home. In 2013, he began talking to a few friends. One of these friends was co-founder Nori Itasaka who had experience opening ramen restaurants while living in Osaka.
If all of the menu items are as appetizing as the Tonkatsu (pork-based) ramen I sampled, Yuzu should do just fine. Without giving away too much, Steven informed me that the broth it prepared over a two-day period with pasture raised pork bones. The aroma is a clean, light and fresh. Something along the lines of a roasted pork loin mixed with wild mushrooms. The Nagahama-style noodles (thin and straight) were cooked perfectly. They seem to have soaked in the flavor of the broth without being too “gummy”. The chashu (marinated pork belly), was cooked very well, not tough to the bite. It has a touch of sweet on the palate, without the sugar. A soft-boiled egg, kikurage (sliced wood eared mushrooms) and baby arugula round out the dish garnished with what looks like long strands of saffron, but are in fact are shredded chili peppers.
Yuzu will open with beef, veggie and pork based broths and will release a new broth every few weeks or so for the first few months. The plan is to slowly release different broths and different versions of current broths.
WTF is “Broffee”?
It’s more than just broth served in a coffee cup. Broffee is bone broth, consumed preferably on an empty stomach and typically in the morning. It’s something that provides nutrients that your body needs to jump-start your brain and your metabolism according to Steven. It’s not necessarily a substitute for our favorite caffeinated beverage (although Steven claims he drinks up to five cups a day!). Like coffee, there are near endless flavorings and ways to prepare it. You’ll have to wait to find out for yourself though as Yuzu will launch serving Broffee a bit later after opening and focus on ramen and appetizers/entrees for now.
Steven was well aware that the space had been the former home to two beloved Emeryville haunts. He was drawn to Emeryville’s accessibility to SF by way of the Bay Bridge and Emeryville’s unique mix of culture. Ramen enthusiasts, he explains, are active and adventurous eaters and Emeryville is a convenient destination for many of them. He feels as though they will be able to draw from all regions. Steven also liked that it is not directly on Hollis or San Pablo which pose more of a parking challenge for drivers. As a final positive note, Yuzu is in talks to deliver to neighboring local watering holes including Prizefighter and Novel Brewing Co.
Yuzu initially hoped to open as early as July but City permitting and inspection delays caused a two month delay. Yuzu will finally host its Grand Opening this Saturday September 3rd beginning at 11:30 a.m. Ramen lovers can RSVP through their website to lock in a spot with free Yuzu T-shirts and “uchiwa’s” (Japanese fans) while supplies last.
Open Monday – Saturday
Lunch: 11:30 a.m. – 3 p.m.
Dinner: 5:30 p.m. – 9 p.m.