By Tanya Henry
Tam Tam Ramen is the brainchild of Whole Foods Markets and their longtime sushi-producing partner Genji. Together they rolled out their fast casual ramen shop in January in Mill Valley’s Alto Plaza Shopping Center.
Vibrant green walls juxtaposed with large menu boards heavy with graphics, Japanese characters and ingredient descriptions fill the bright space that was previously home to Smashburger. Seating in multiple configurations including benches, booths and two- and four-top tables dot the high-ceilinged room. Notably, a large refrigerated case situated directly where diners line up to place their orders is filled with intriguing drink selections from canned rosé wines, to sake to various cold teas.
With a tagline that reads, “slurp your noodles,” the menu offers up to six options, from the signature Tam Tam ramen prepared with a tonkotsu broth, to lighter versions with chicken, miso and veggie broths. Interestingly, calorie counts are included with dishes that range in price from $8.99 (the veggie) up to $14.99 (a truffle snow crab bowl of a pork and dashi broth, crab legs, noodles and white truffle oil).
Though it’s all about the ramen here (even the clever logo features chopsticks and Mount Tam), small bites are also an option and include bao sliders, grilled edamame, wonton nachos and gyoza.
The items that stay as true to their origin work the best here, whereas the veggie ramen, at a mere 590 calories, lacked backbone and flavor. Fortunately there are “extras” that can liven up the offerings. Fort Point beer and Golden State Cider are available on tap and come at a discounted price during Tam Tam’s regular happy hour from 3-7pm. Tam Tam currently does a brisk takeout business, but with summer here (and extended hours, to 9pm), perhaps diners will linger over the bowls of noodles.
Tam Tam Ramen; 731 E. Blithedale Ave., Mill Valley; 415/381-3008.