Richie Nakano

The Best Ramen in San Francisco

“Tanpopo is awesome.  I like that movie a lot.” — Richie Nakano

Using miso to prepare Asian dishes


Richie Nakano serves the best ramen in San Francisco.  At least that’s the reputation he has earned with his small Hapa Ramen stall on the city’s Embarcadero.

For five years he has been serving the Japanese-style noodles to huge numbers of hungry San Franciscans and his reputation has grown. [1]

Ritchie is also known for his unusual fondness for spoons. [2]

Using Social Media: Richie is also fond of the Internet, and uses social media a lot, like pod casts, Flickr, Twitter and YouTube.  His blog is at

Richie’s grandfather was a chef, and his mother and father taught him some of their own dishes.

Later he worked as a waiter and bartender in San Francisco, went to culinary school, and began to cook.

Sick of Take-Out: The way Richie puts it, “I think the reason I was cooking so much then was I couldn’t afford to go to restaurants and I was sick of eating take-out food.”  His friend was working at Whole Foods and they got a discount on groceries, “so that’s how it started out.”

Sick of Soy Sauce: Richie was worked at different restaurants, mostly Asian. He got to the point where “I didn’t want to see soy sauce ever again.”

Ramen Is Different: Richie did, however, enjoy ramen and ate it at a lot of places in San Francisco.  His gradually got to the point where he wanted specialize in making better ramen himself, with better ingredients and a different approach..

So he started cooking a lot of ramen at home. “And it turned out well,” he said.

Start-Up: Focusing on ramen, Richie began with his tiny operation on the Embarcadero, with two full-time employees. [3]

The Goal: The goal at Hapa Ramen is to make a unique bowl of noodles, using  organic ingredients from local sources and modern cooking techniques.

The Menu:The menu at the Embarcadero shop is very simple —

  • ramen with pork shoulder and vegetables
  • ramen with fried chicken and vegetables
  • miso ramen with vegetables
  • ramen made with pork, chicken and vegetables

Customers get to add a slow-cooked egg, which is cooked by the sous vide technique and that’s about it.  Customers line up for these ramen dishes.

Besides feeding people, Richie views his mission as educating..Even in San Francisco, people come in and ask “Ramen? What is it?”

Often his customers’ only knowledge of ramen is with instant varieties. So what he serves is a revelation. Richie has expressed his desire to eventually do something really crazy like “open in the airport or the ballpark.”

Instead, he made his recent move in 2012 by opening a small eatery next door to State Bird Provisions in a renovated century-old theater next door to State Bird on Fillmore Street. [4]

The concept there is to serve what may be the best ramen in San Francisco, plus a few other simple dishes.

And he did see the movie Tanpopo:: “That movie’s awesome.  I like that movie a lot.”

For further information:

[1] Richie Nakano Bio:Inside Scoop SF    —
[2] Nicole Jones, “A Conversation with Chef Richie Nakano,” Born Hungry, April 4, 2012. —
3] Hapa Ramen site   —
[4] “Building Our Dream Kitchen Together at Hapa on Fillmore,”  Kick Starter.  —


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