Review: KO in San Francisco

This new restaurant is a knockout ramen experience

A friend and I were heading to a San Francisco concert and wanted dinner nearby the venue. A perfect 5-star Yelp rating led us to KO, which just opened a few weeks ago. Did we ever luck out!

Like many ramen spots, it’s small and noisy, but the vibe is energetic and manager Eric’s friendly, informative service makes you feel right at home.

Complimentary edamame is always a nice touch, but the accompanying sauce was so good, my companion and I joked we could eat it all day. The chicken gyoza, unimpressive in appearance, offered a surprise. The first bite hinted at blandness, but subsequent bites revealed a subtle, complex flavor that won us over completely. The wrappers were light and crisp. They disappeared quickly.

Delightful gyoza and oh! that edamame sauce!

I ordered the KO Signature Ramen. It was one of, if not the, largest bowls I’ve ever had. Size wasn’t the only impressive aspect: the melt-in-your-mouth pork belly was the star, with three thick, finger-sized slices. Chashu was also present, but slightly overshadowed by the pork belly. Two braised pork ribs rounded out the protein options. While tasty and tender, they couldn’t match the pork belly’s glory.

KO Signature ramen with chashu, ribs and pork belly.

The thin noodles provided a wonderful textural contrast to the rich, creamy broth. Unlike some ramen broths I’ve had, this one wasn’t overpowering. I savored every bite without feeling weighed down, finishing the entire bowl (maybe a bit too much!).

The pork belly stole the show!

My companion opted for the vegan bowl with green noodles, featuring broccoli and cauliflower. Though warned it was milder than the other ramens, he enjoyed it; and the single bite I tried was quite flavorful.

KO Ramen has skyrocketed to the top of my ramen favorites list. Scanning the menu and browsing pictures and reviews online makes me yearn to try more dishes, including the sushi. I rarely venture to SF’s Mission district, but considering the exceptional quality of the food, a return trip is a no-brainer for me.

Weeks after our visit, KO still has an impressive 4.7 rating on Yelp. Both my companion and I felt fortunate to have experienced KO in its early days, before long wait times become a reality. The combination of delicious food, friendly service, and a lively atmosphere makes KO a must-try for any ramen enthusiast. While the location might pose a challenge for some, the experience is definitely worth it.

Ramen Club 5-Star Rating System:

Food:                                   4.5    stars 

Service:                                4   stars 

Atmosphere/Comfort:      3.5  stars


1 star:   weak

2 stars:  just ok 

3 stars:  good      

4 stars:  very good      

5 stars:  superb or special