Nagasaki Champon (長崎拉麵) at Ringer Hut, San Jose

Among the many Japanese ramen shops in the bay area, Ringer Hut stands out as somewhat of a unique place. It serves a special type of ramen called champon, most famous from the city of Nagasaki. It is at this city where this style of ramen originated from the local Chinese restaurants.

Ringer Hut Sign

Based on the best information I could gather, and no, internet (nor xxpedia) does not have all the right answers, champon is basically a variation of the original Chinese dish called Chao Ma Mian (炒碼麵; chaomamian). When the Chinese from Shandong province who emigrated to Korea introduced chaomamian to Korea, it became one of Korea’s favorite Chinese noodle dish (the other is zhajiangmian) Because of the family resemblance, the Koreans gave it the name of “jjamppong” (after champon) to chaomamian.

Ringer Hut Menu 2

One can think of Champon as a close cousin of chaomamian. And one taste of Nagasaki champon from Ringer Hut can confirm this. They offer many dishes, including regular shoyu ramen and even curry tonkatsu rice (long before places like Curry House stirred up the popularity of Japanese style curry here in the bay area) But their specialty and something that’s found rarely elsewhere in the SF bay area is the Nagasaki Champon. They even offer it in four sizes: small, regular, large, and super. The large bowl is a big bowl with enough ramen noodles to trump other Japanese ramen shop’s ramen with extra noodles. Even I rarely tackle the super size.

Ringer Hut Menu 2

The key to champon is the stir-frying of pork and vegetables prior to the addition of the pork or chicken based soup broth. The stir-frying adds the extra dimension of flavor that differs it from traditional ramen broth. The now closed Do-Henkotsu used to have a Yasai (野菜) ramen that was in the same spirit as the champon and chaomamian.

Ringer Hut Large Champon Ramen

The subtle difference between the Nagasaki Champon at Ringer Hut and the original chaomamian found at Shandong (Korean-Chinese) style restaurants is that the champon soup broth has more of a peppery underone, while the Shandong version has a more pronounced garlic flavor.

Ringer Hut Champon Noodle

The noodle used by Ringer Hut for champon is very good. It is thick and cooked to the right Q-ness. If fact, it is my second favorite ramen noodle next to those from Halu Ramen.

Ringer Hut Champon Thick Noodle Closeup

The ingredients included stir-fried cabbages, bean sprouts, woodear mushrooms, and a little bit of small shrimp and calamari. The great flavor of the broth infused by the stir-frying plus the excellent noodles makes a great bowl of noodle. (Grade: A- )

Latest update to my best ramen of San Francisco bay area rankings:

  1. Ramen Halu, San Jose – Halu Ramen
  2. Gen Ramen, Fremont (CLOSED) – Kakuni Tonkotsu Ramen
  3. Do-Henkotsu, San Jose (CLOSED) – Pork Rib Ramen & Yasai Ramen
  4. Ajisen Ramen, Fremont – BBQ Pork Chashu Ramen, Paiku Ramen
  5. Kahoo Ramen, San Jose – Shoyu Ramen, Shio Ramen, Miso Ramen
  6. Maru Ichi, Mountain View – Kuro Ramen, Tonkotsu Ramen
  7. Ringer Hut, San Jose – Nagasaki Champon
  8. Santa Ramen, San Mateo – Kakuni Tonkotsu Ramen
  9. Himawari, San Mateo – Kakuni Tonkotsu Ramen
  10. Maru Ichi, Milpitas – Kuro Ramen, Tonkotsu Ramen

Ringer Hut

1072 Saratoga Ave

San Jose, CA 95129

(408) 554-0877

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10 Responses

  1. Carrie says:

    I’ve tasted better Champon ramen in Japan, so I was disappointed when I visited this restaurant. However, since it’s in the U.S., I guess I couldn’t ask too much. As for Ramen Halu, I’d only been there once and was VERY disappointed. In fact, the experience there made me dislike ramen. It was the Champon ramen I had in Japan gained my interest back to try more ramen. I’m not sure if the timing was wrong (I came when they were almost closed for lunch) or maybe they just had a bad day. Since I’ve seen so many people praise Ramen Halu, maybe I’ll give it a try soon. As always, thanks for sharing the restaurant info. Carrie

  2. tanspace says:

    I’ve never had champon in Japan so I have no reference. But judging it just as a bowl of noodles, I like it.

    Halu is really a ramen style that some folks love and some hate. Have you tried Kahoo or Santa? Their styles are different and some people like them as the favorites.

  3. Carrie says:

    Kahoo is my favorite ramen in Bay Area so far. I’ve also had Santa Ramen before, tI think they add too much MSG or artificial flavor in the soup, plus the pricing is kind of too expensive for me.


  4. madoka says:

    Glad to see you back and posting, Tanspace! 🙂 Kahoo is my favorite ramen place overall, though the specialty ramen at Halu and the kuro ramen at Maruichi are great too. I’m not as fond of the normal Halu ramen. I haven’t been to Ringer Hut in *years*, and it sounds like I should give them another shot. It’s amazing there are 3 great ramen places within 1 mile of each other and all 5 min from my office! 😀

  5. tanspace says:

    Looks like Kahoo has its loyal followings. I’ve noticed that folks tend to favor several “camps” of ramen style – Halu vs. Santa, or Halu vs. Kahoo, etc… I know I love them all and each has its own special style.

    Yes, that area between Santa Clara/San Jose border is a hot bed of ramen and Japanese activity. Mitsuwa is there as well as Tomi Sushi and Tanto, etc.

  6. This looks like an interesting place to eat. I have never had Ramen in the UK so next time I am across I will seek one out. It sounds like the type of food i love.

  7. judzzy says:

    I’ve always wondered about this place every time I passed by. No one wanted to try it with me. I didn’t think it serves ramen! have you tried the new ramen “place” in Mitsuwa?

  8. tanspace says:

    It serves ramen before most of the ramen shops opened in the bay area… it also serves udon, curry, before the Curry House. So it’s been around for a long time serving good Japanese food.
    I tried Santouka in Mitsuwa the day after it opened and they’re good. My full review is way behind, backed up along tons of others… hope to get to them soon.

  9. hiro says:

    I was looking for yaohan and end up in this blog, I lived in cupertino before 97 the year I came to tokyo and being here ever since. I used to go to yaohan every weekend to rent video tapes (japanese dramas etc) and read magazines at kinokuniya bookstores and of course do my shopping (natto etc) and sometimes eat ramen, at night I usually went to ringer hut at saratoga av to eat champon and gyoza. I remember I really enjoy it because as a sentimental fool I am very fond of anything that is japanese, but I am a liittle sad because it seems yaohan is not there anymore, more or less it use to be the center of my weekend activities. On saturday mornings I use to play football pick up games at homested high school where I met lots of malaysians, singaporeans, taiwanese, mainly working at silicon graphics or sun microsystems, after the games we use to go to eat chinese noodles in mountain view at el camino real I dont remember the name of the restaurant but the noodles were pretty good and it was all noodles and football talk great time, sometimes for a change we went to main street montain view, there was a vietnamese noodle shop a new experience, different but pallatable. Here in tokyo sometimes I go to ringer hut for champon but it is dirt cheap 350 yen, I thought it was some sales pitch but they have it for years and I dont know how are they making any profits, mind bogling, also I thought champon was a japanese dish but reading this site I found out that this is not the case, so all the schemes inside my head are broken now ha, ha. Is good to remember my past life in cupertino

  10. lisa says:

    Hi! I found your site via Google while searching for Nagasaki champon.
    Ringer Hut is a chain restaurant in Japan and it’s fabled that its owner/president (?) retired to San Jose and thus the lone Ringer Hut in all of US lies (very randomly!) in San Jose. As a ramen aficionado, I’ve been eager to eat at this locale whenever I’m in the bay area, but alas, no one else in my group ever shows any of interest whenever I go!
    Thanks for your reviews. They help me whet my appetite for my next trip.

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