2675 24th St, Sacramento, CA 95818, (916) 454-2411

If you're unfamiliar with the Curtis Park area, you might zoom by Shoki's without realizing it. Much like most archetypal ramen-yas, it's housed in a small non-descript building on a sleepy street (just before Crepeville). From the outside it doesn't look like much, but inside it's a bustling nest of activity permeated with the heady aroma of homemade ramen broth. The interior is quite small with just a few tables placed around the perimeter of the kitchen. Be aware that the temp can spike up in there and there does seem to be an issue with a lot of flies buzzing about, so don't expect anything fancy. However, the owners have taken the time to add a few small personal touches, like a cute hand-painted ceiling. Overall, it exudes the feel of a kitschy mom and pop establishment. The menu is your standard white board on the wall and the proprietors do a nice job of explaining the half dozen or so dishes. Prices run from about $5-$8 and the ramen flavors range from shoyu (soy sauce), shio (salt), tantan men (a spicy version) and a few other non-standard ramens like corn ramen. In addition, they have added a smattering of alternatives such as California rolls, Japanese curry and a salad. There's a few beers on the menu and it looks they're trying to expand with a few Japanese specialty drinks (which were on the menu but not available yet at my last visit). And of course, they have everyone's favorite marble beverage- Ramune. :)

I'll be honest, I really wanted to love Shoki. My inner hapa girl was doing cartwheels when I heard a ramen-ya was opening up in Sac. We're not talking about your high-salt, high-fat, chemically-flavored Top Ramen variety. I had visions of bowlfuls of fresh, steaming shio ramen overflowing with tasty bits of menma (bamboo shoots), tasty slices of pork and the ramen staple---a hard boiled egg. I've been back three times now and each time, I walk away full more or less but not satisfied. The last time, they were out of boiled eggs (isn't there a market just down the street?) , the time before they were out of menma and two out of three times my broth's been lukewarm. Although highly disappointing, I can live without my bamboo and egg but lukewarm broth? Ramen broth should be so hot that you get the ramen sweats while you eat it. Maybe I've just been spoiled by the ramen-yas of my childhood in Japan or recent visits to Santa Ramen in San Mateo.

What does make me return to Shoki is the gracious hospitality of the owners. It's family run and each and every worker there exudes such a friendliness that you yourself feel like family upon leaving. They really go out of their way to try and accommodate your requests and you are never made to feel rushed, even if there's a line of patrons at the door. I'm hoping over time, Shoki's will get their ramen tweaked to perfection but that they don't deviate from the terrific customer service. Ideally, I'd like to see blazing hot (temp wise) ramen and perhaps a counter eating space where solo eaters that want to get their ramen grub on can jostle for elbow space while slurping away in ramen bliss. Shoki, Gambatte ne!