KANSUI: A Legit Ramen Joint in Willow Glen

Posted 11:58 AM / By / , , , , ,

Order form at KANSUI in Willow Glen

I am a relative novice when it comes to ramen, and even I noticed the lack of well regarded ramen spots in the San Jose area. I've had some good ramen at Shalala in Mountain View, and also tried a few other places on the peninsula, most of which I found to be underwhelming. So I'm sure you could imagine, with me living in The Glen, how happy I was to find out that Kansui was going to be opening with what looked like a very tasty menu. If you're considering hitting this place for lunch, I'll save you the suspense and give you the verdict on KANSUI. It's Good! Really Good! You should go there. For those unaware, KANSUI is pop-up restaurant in Willow Glen's Hay Market focused on ramen, sake and a few small plates. My wife and I are big fans of Hay Market and have enjoyed some lively conversations with it's owner, Joe Cirone on the food scene in San Jose, Chicago and beyond. While enjoying our lunch, we got a lot of interesting details about the process of getting KANSUI up and running, but that can wait. The food was very good, so I think I'll write about that for a bit. Amy and I both stuck with the plan and ordered Ramen and were not disappointed. My wife has a taste for all things spicy, so she got the Spicy Red Miso Ramen and I ordered the Tonkatsu (72 Hour Pork Broth). First off, the Tonkatsu. If it's at all possible for a broth like this to have a light taste and texture, well, they achieved the near impossible. This is not to say it wasn't rich and tasty, on the contrary. It was full of flavor, but it did not have the heavy and salty taste and texture that I've had at other Ramen places when ordering the same item. Amy was especially impressed that they include a soft-boiled egg in each ramen bowl. It seems a lot of places cannot be bothered to deal with soft-boiled eggs, but at a place like this, it's all about the details.

Tonkatsu Ramen at KANSUI in Willow Glen
Tonkatsu Ramen - 72 Hour Pork Broth
Spicy Red Miso Ramen at KANSUI in Willow Glen
Spicy Red Miso Ramen

Along with a huge heaping of incredibly good noodles (more on those in a moment), comes some green onion, seaweed and a perfectly cooked piece of chashu. I'm so tired of ramen places throwing an overcooked piece of grey-looking chashu in the bowl as an afterthought. At KANSUI, they give that piece of pork the respect it deserves. The chashu was tender and a really nice complement to the noodles. Oooohhh, the noodles. They have the perfect slightly chewy texture and I could not stop eating them. We learned halfway through our meal, after talking with Joe, that they went through countless versions of the noodle recipe to get it just right. He was very happy with the result, and needless to say, you're gonna really dig the ramen at this place. Amy's Spicy Red Miso was incredibly good, and not overpowering with the spice. It had lots of flavor and the right amount of kick on the palate, but I didn't feel like I had to nurse a glass of water with every bite, which is nice.

Okonomiyaki at KANSUI in Willow Glen
Okonomiyaki - Seared Cake with Cabbage, Bonito and Housemade Sauces
Low Pickled Salmon at KANSUI in Willow Glen
Low Pickled Salmon with Haas Avocado, Cucumber and Tapioca

Rounding out the meal are two small plates we wanted to try. Amy and I really enjoyed the Okonomiyaki. It was crispy and delicate with a nice housemade sauce drizzled on top. It came out in a small skillet and the perfect mix of cabbage and bonito with that sauce made for a nice (but brief) respite from our ramen bowls. We also tried, based on the recommendation from Joe, the Low Pickled Salmon. So, I'm into many different types of fish, but pickled fish to me, well ... it's a hard sell. I couldn't have been more off-base with my assumption about that dish. The Salmon was flawlessly prepared, the fact that it was 'pickled' did not dominate the flavor of the dish at all. It was served with fresh avocado and cucumber in a sauce with tapioca and it was really refreshing. Amy I both loved it.

Lucky Cat at KANSUI in Willow Glen
The Requisite Lucky Cat

I'm not much for sake, but I do know they did their research to find some really good sake at reasonable prices to go with your meal. If sake is your thing, try it with your lunch and let me know the verdict. It would be easy to let my bias take hold here, and just give a blind thumbs-up to KANSUI, but that's not my steez. If I think it's good, I'll tell you and this is GOOD!

Useful Info

Hay Market
Kansui Menu


  1. Looks yummy, really enjoying the photos!

  2. I love Hay Market, but have yet to try the ramen pop-up, for lunch. Was surprised at this though "I noticed the lack of well regarded ramen spots in the San Jose area." Heard of Orenchi, Ramen Halu, Santouka? All great ramen spots in San Jose.

    1. Hi Schmee,

      I have heard about Orenchi and Santouka, but the word was mixed. It seems as though the city and the peninsula are just known to have better Ramen, but hopefully that's changing over time. I do want to try Orenchi for sure. I'm happy to have a new reader and if you have any other recommendations, holler.



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