Despite my best attempts, the lack of natural lighting at Santa Ramen lends itself to some pretty garish photographs, heavily contrasted, and vaguely reminiscent of a 70s-era cookbook. I normally wouldn’t publish a photo like the one posted above, but what other choice do I have? Santa Ramen does not offer to-go orders, and none of their tables border any windows (which all face east, allowing for almost zero afternoon sun). The restaurant itself is tucked away into an unassuming San Mateo strip mall, sharing a parking lot with Jo-Ann Fabrics & Crafts and the Men’s Wearhouse. Since these strip-mall surroundings serve to disguise the best bowl of ramen in the San Francisco Bay Area, I’ve become lenient with my own editorial standards, and I’ve decided to forge ahead with the best photo I can muster. So it goes. The item pictured above is the soy broth ramen, which features an after-market add-on of stewed kurobuta pork (two tender cubes of soy-sugar-and-sake-braised pork belly). It’s a fantastic bowl of soup, and extremely popular, as well.