Katana Ya (San Francisco, CA)

December 07, 2011

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The number one cuisine I wanted to devour in my weekend at San Francisco was Asian food. There’s a dire lack of it in Austin and especially Japanese food. I mean straight up authentic style Japanese food, not the upscale and modern. After a cold and rainy day of shopping, I was craving a hot and steaming bowl of noodles. I didn’t know where to go so I turned to Yelp. I hardly ever use Yelp for restaurant recommendations. The majority of the reviews on there can be misleading and inaccurate. But I had no choice so I just yelped for ‘Japanese ramen’ and Katana Ya was the first result. With over 2000 reviews, Katana Ya still had 3 1/2 stars which had to mean something. A rule of thumb on Yelp, the first 10 reviews are probably made by that restaurant’s family and friends. But 2000 reviews? That is worth checking out. 
Katana Ya.

Claustrophobias beware. The inside of Katana Ya is extremely small but that’s why I like it. Space is limited in Japan (Asia in general) so restaurants are typically on the smaller side. There’s around 10 tables inside that can seat 2-4 people. There is a huge mirror that lines the left wall which makes is seem bigger than it really is. 

Dynamite Sushi Roll.

The dynamite sushi roll consisted of a spicy mix of salmon, tuna, and yellowtail. To me the star of a sushi roll is the rice. There’s too many Japanese restaurants that make the rice too sticky to the point where it’s mushy but Katana Ya was authentic as it gets.

While the sushi is fresh and delicious, I would save my appetite for the ramen.

Katanaya Ramen.

This is the first time I’ve had ramen in the U.S., other than in Japan 5 years ago, so when I think of ramen the image of a cheap package of Shin ramen. But this is far from dried processed noodles with little seasoning packages.

Katana Ya has completely changed my opinion on Japanese ramen. We chose the Katanaya Ramen which included ramen noodles, corn, fried chicken, fried potstickers, seaweed, scallions, BBQ pork, and a boiled egg.

You get your choice of 3 kinds of soup: salt, soy, and miso. Salt didn’t sound appetizing to me, soy can be overpowering, and I typically don’t like miso soup.  I went ahead and ordered the miso which was amazing.

Katana Ya is the perfect spot during a cold and winter day. There’s nothing that soothes the soul more than a big, hot steaming bowl of noodles.

The first thing that I noticed other than the authentic small size of the restaurant was that all of it’s customers were of Asian descent. This shows that the food is authentic and catered toward the people of that cuisine.

Back in Austin we have several Japanese restaurants (including the well known Uchi & Uchiko) but no one serves Japanese style ramen. Kome owned by Sushi A-gogo did just open up but the word is that the ramen isn’t authentic and overpriced.

Katana Ya
430 Geary St
San Francisco, CA 94102


Jane Ko is the Austin blogger behind A Taste of Koko, Austin's top food and travel blog featuring the hottest restaurants and weekend getaways. Jane has been a speaker at South by Southwest (SXSW), Texas Conference for Women, BlogHer, and more on entrepreneurship and social media. She lives in Austin Texas with her dog and cat.