Orenchi Ramen

San Francisco, California

In Japan, ramen shops are not fancy or precious but places where you eat quickly and get on with things. In contrast to this “fast food “ experience is the care taken in what is served by the ramen cooks. They take what they do so very seriously and challenge each other to make so much out of this relatively simple and common dish. Orenchi Beyond, located in the Mission District is the first San Francisco outpost of the lauded Silicon Valley Orenchi Ramen. In the spectrum of bay area ramen options, it posits itself firmly in the Japanese style.

In designing the space we were inspired by the complex mix of street culture and traditional Japanese values found in the ramen shops we visited in Japan. The existing street façade was demolished and pushed 12 ft. into the space, creating an interstitial room or engawa in the space between sidewalk and interior. In this space a carefully selected 4000 lb. Yuba River basalt rock commands the central spot. The new storefront of Sakura wood allows the bar and seating to wind through it—letting diners eat and drink both indoors and out.

The interior is arranged around the open kitchen with ramen soup pots boiling day and night behind floor to ceiling glass walls. Handles and brackets throughout the space are made of elm branches by local craftsman and artist Kenji Hasegawa. The stool seating is a riff on traditional sake barrels while the tables are painted in Japanese tattoo style depicting traditional Japanese myths and Yakuza movie mash-ups along with a dragon made of ramen, with eyes of soft boiled eggs and a tongue of chashu pork, it’s whipping tail spelling “Orenchi” in Hiragana letters.

Photos: Bruce Damonte