Sebastopol's excellent Ramen Gaijin opened the doors to its new home Friday. The restaurant now occupies the space formerly held by the Forchetta half of Forchetta/Bastoni, a combo Italian and Southeast Asian restaurant. The Italian side of the restaurant never quite caught fire, so now it's a combo Japanese and Southeast Asian restaurant.
Ramen Gaijin owners Matthew Williams and Moishe Hahn-Schuman moved from Woodfour Brewing Co. where they ran a once-a-month pop-up restaurant. Ramen Gaijin is still a pop-up, but it feels more permanent with the art they've hung from the ceiling, a community board that lists all their Sonoma County suppliers and other touches. And they're open four days a week. West County is a better place for it.
The "Sonoma County–style" ramen is as delicious as ever. The infinitely deep flavors of the soup in the shoyu ramen ($14, a combination of chicken and dashi broth) are coaxed from hours of slow simmering in big pots. Add springy house-made rye noodles and outstanding toppings like wood ear mushrooms, pork belly, half a soft boiled mirin- and soy-sauce-marinated egg, and bamboo shoots, and you've got a great meal in bowl. While the menu will change, currently there is also a vegetarian sesame- and miso-based ramen, and a fiery "tan tan" ramen on the menu. Other options include albacore tataki ($11), karaage chicken ($9), a winter vegetable salad ($6) and an excellent black sesame ice cream ($7).
There's also a great lineup of beverages: Japanese and local brews, Japanese whiskey and short list of sake chosen by master sake sommelier Stewart Morris.
Ramen Gaijin is open for lunch and dinner Wednesday-Saturday. 6948 Sebastopol Ave., Sebastopol. 707.827.3609. www.facebook.com/RamenGaijin.