Red paper lanterns dot the restaurant’s awning, which shelters customers as they line up to order. In the back corner, behind the host standing at the doorway, the kitchen clatters with activity. It is easy to imagine diners sitting at the booths against the wood panel walls that line the interior, with bowls of steaming ramen fresh from the kitchen between them. But for now, the tables that would be scattered about the room are pushed to the front, flooded with brown paper bags holding takeout orders. The server passes the bags to customers eagerly waiting to enjoy their meals at home.

Ramen Kowa is Palo Alto’s newest ramen restaurant, located along California Avenue. The restaurant is one of several local businesses that opened during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, starting business in November. With Santa Clara County’s reentrance into the purple tier in January, allowing restaurants to start up outdoor dining again, the tables have moved outside, awaiting guests and adding to the bustle of an increasingly revitalized street.

A wide selection of ramen dishes grace Ramen Kowa’s menu, along with appetizers and sides — from rice bowls to edamame — to accompany a hearty meal.  

Karaage ($8)

 

The crackled deep-fried skin hides tender marinated chicken, creating addictive bite-sized treats. Accompanied by a tangy Japanese mayonnaise that offsets the savory chicken flavor, this appetizer will quickly disappear from the table.

Tonkotsu Ramen ($14.80

 

A savory, creamy pork-based broth brings together chewy ramen noodles, a soft-boiled egg, bamboo shoots and other toppings. The rich flavors offered by the pork slices complete Ramen Kowa’s take on a classic.

 

Classic Shoyu Ramen ($14.50

 

This soup has a clear dark soy sauce broth as its base and is served with pork slices, spinach, bamboo shoots and a soft-boiled egg. With a lighter flavor than the Tonkotsu ramen, Ramen Kowa’s Shoyu creates a warm but refreshing sensation.

Katsu Curry ($16.50)

 

White rice and pork tonkatsu serve as the base of this dish. Upon adding the rich curry, the bowl transforms into a balanced, hearty stew. This dish includes a small side salad with a sharp, ginger dressing.