4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs

Dreamy vegan noodles at HiroNori Craft Ramen

These Orange County guys never met a broth they couldn’t perfect

I’ve paid lip service to vegan ramens before. Interesting, I’ve said. Oh, that is good,” I’ve agreed. But I haven’t meant it. Not to the extent that I would choose to order one over a milky, rich tonkotsu ramen. Tonkotsu is the bone broth that made ramen special, elevated it above the other noodle soups. Forget chicken noodle, tonkotsu is the only broth to ever cure me of a cold. I might pander to vegan friends, join them in a lesser ramen, and try not to let on just how much they’re missing out. But I’ve never gone home thinking, I should go back for that vegan noodle soup.

Place

HiroNori Craft Ramen

3803 Fifth Ave, San Diego

Until HiroNori Craft Ramen turned up in Hillcrest.

There are actually two shocking twists to this ramen adventure, and the first is that the HiroNori brand I’m about to recommend started in Orange County. Worse than that: it started in Irvine. I am smitten with a vegan ramen from Irvine. Is there a support group for that?

Kidding aside, misters Hiro and Nori, the namesake partners behind the fledgling restaurant chain, each cut their teeth in the ramen kitchens of their native Japan. And the resulting centerpiece of their restaurant is a true, 24-hour steeped tonkotsu that tastes indulgently rich and deep as the Mariana Trench. HiroNori wasn’t one of the eight San Diego restaurants given a Bib Gourmand nod by the recent Michelin Guide California, but it did earn one serving the same food in Irvine, and this pork broth alone proves it’s deserving.

HiroNori seems poised to change the fortunes of this otherwise cursed restaurant space.

But do not sleep on the vegan ramen. It starts with a miso base, no big deal, but wooed me with the thick addition of sesame paste and a touch of chili oil. It sounds so simple, and I’m sure it is for someone who knows what they’re doing. And yet, it succeeds where other vegan broths fail.

The toppings even do it for me, and they include both tofu and “soy meat.” The setup here is based on a tantan style ramen, so the soy meat replaces ground pork or chicken. I guess the tofu is just there to remind you there’s no meat involved in the making of this soup. There’s also baby kale, corn, and bean sprouts, but the best topping was the still crispy roasted broccolini. I’d almost come to this restaurant just to order a side of broccolini. Like the noodles are the bonus here. And these wide, toothsome noodles are a heck of a bonus.

I don’t know whether Hiro and Nori realize it, but they opened this little spot on a section of 5th Avenue that has been nothing short of murder on restaurants over the past few years. I’ve seen three different restaurants close at this very address in as many years. Maybe it took a couple of Orange County guys to set the place aright. Even in a city oversaturated with ramen spots, this one should last.

Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all

Previous article

Sign of the times

“Even if you’re a hater, I’ll sit and talk with you. We can find some common ground.”
Next Article

How the lockdown has changed National City crime

Mask snitches, domestic violence, mental health calls up

I’ve paid lip service to vegan ramens before. Interesting, I’ve said. Oh, that is good,” I’ve agreed. But I haven’t meant it. Not to the extent that I would choose to order one over a milky, rich tonkotsu ramen. Tonkotsu is the bone broth that made ramen special, elevated it above the other noodle soups. Forget chicken noodle, tonkotsu is the only broth to ever cure me of a cold. I might pander to vegan friends, join them in a lesser ramen, and try not to let on just how much they’re missing out. But I’ve never gone home thinking, I should go back for that vegan noodle soup.

Place

HiroNori Craft Ramen

3803 Fifth Ave, San Diego

Until HiroNori Craft Ramen turned up in Hillcrest.

There are actually two shocking twists to this ramen adventure, and the first is that the HiroNori brand I’m about to recommend started in Orange County. Worse than that: it started in Irvine. I am smitten with a vegan ramen from Irvine. Is there a support group for that?

Kidding aside, misters Hiro and Nori, the namesake partners behind the fledgling restaurant chain, each cut their teeth in the ramen kitchens of their native Japan. And the resulting centerpiece of their restaurant is a true, 24-hour steeped tonkotsu that tastes indulgently rich and deep as the Mariana Trench. HiroNori wasn’t one of the eight San Diego restaurants given a Bib Gourmand nod by the recent Michelin Guide California, but it did earn one serving the same food in Irvine, and this pork broth alone proves it’s deserving.

HiroNori seems poised to change the fortunes of this otherwise cursed restaurant space.

But do not sleep on the vegan ramen. It starts with a miso base, no big deal, but wooed me with the thick addition of sesame paste and a touch of chili oil. It sounds so simple, and I’m sure it is for someone who knows what they’re doing. And yet, it succeeds where other vegan broths fail.

The toppings even do it for me, and they include both tofu and “soy meat.” The setup here is based on a tantan style ramen, so the soy meat replaces ground pork or chicken. I guess the tofu is just there to remind you there’s no meat involved in the making of this soup. There’s also baby kale, corn, and bean sprouts, but the best topping was the still crispy roasted broccolini. I’d almost come to this restaurant just to order a side of broccolini. Like the noodles are the bonus here. And these wide, toothsome noodles are a heck of a bonus.

I don’t know whether Hiro and Nori realize it, but they opened this little spot on a section of 5th Avenue that has been nothing short of murder on restaurants over the past few years. I’ve seen three different restaurants close at this very address in as many years. Maybe it took a couple of Orange County guys to set the place aright. Even in a city oversaturated with ramen spots, this one should last.

Sponsored
Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all
Previous article

Garbage thinking with Ben Wheatley

I’m cross about things, but I’m not doing anything about it
Next Article

Dirty Birds proprietor cuts $500 deal with ethics commission

Hitting up Faulconer’s staff for campaign cash draws hand slap
Comments
0

Be the first to leave a comment.

Sign in to comment

Sign in

Art Reviews — W.S. Di Piero's eye on exhibits Ask a Hipster — Advice you didn't know you needed Best Buys — San Diego shopping Big Screen — Movie commentary Blurt — Music's inside track Booze News — San Diego spirits City Lights — News and politics Classical Music — Immortal beauty Classifieds — Free and easy Cover Stories — Front-page features Excerpts — Literary and spiritual excerpts Famous Former Neighbors — Next-door celebs Feast! — Food & drink reviews Feature Stories — Local news & stories From the Archives — Spotlight on the past Golden Dreams — Talk of the town Here's the Deal — Chad Deal's watering holes Just Announced — The scoop on shows Letters — Our inbox [email protected] — Local movie buffs share favorites Movie Reviews — Our critics' picks and pans Musician Interviews — Up close with local artists Neighborhood News from Stringers — Hyperlocal news News Ticker — News & politics Obermeyer — San Diego politics illustrated Of Note — Concert picks Out & About — What's Happening Overheard in San Diego — Eavesdropping illustrated Poetry — The old and the new Pour Over — Grab a cup Reader Travel — Travel section built by travelers Reading — The hunt for intellectuals Roam-O-Rama — SoCal's best hiking/biking trails San Diego Beer — Inside San Diego suds SD on the QT — Almost factual news Set 'em Up Joe — Bartenders' drink recipes Sheep and Goats — Places of worship Special Issues — The best of Sports — Athletics without gush Street Style — San Diego streets have style Suit Up — Fashion tips for dudes Theater Reviews — Local productions Theater antireviews — Narrow your search Tin Fork — Silver spoon alternative Under the Radar — Matt Potter's undercover work Unforgettable — Long-ago San Diego Unreal Estate — San Diego's priciest pads Waterfront — All things ocean Your Week — Daily event picks
4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
Close