The summer of 2015 hasn’t been solely a dry spell—a wave of ramen joints has risen up throughout the Bay Area. Notably, Myzen Ramen holds its own against the latest batch of slurp-happy noodle havens.

The Japanese diner opened in July, and it earnestly tries to evoke its roots, from the row of wooden planks inked with black kanji script to the waiters bellowing “Irasshaimase!” (Welcome!) to each new customer. Inside, a subdued, jazzy playlist rolls through the speakers in English and Asian languages. Flag banners hang the Myzen logo above the bar, framing a collection of potted (and probably fake) orchid plants. You almost forget you’re actually inside a strip mall in Sunnyvale.

There is also no ridiculous line camped out before the doors open—possibly the first time we didn’t sign up on the waitlist at a ramen restaurant. Though many rationalize that the longer the wait, the better the recipe, I found myself in a better mood after immediate seating.

We started with Chicken Karaage ($5.99), and Myzen wasn’t afraid to take some risk with its version. The breading was on the light side—not particularly crispy or oily, which may disappoint some deep-fried devotees. However, the unique dip, dubbed “bulldog sauce” by our waiter, blanketed the chicken in a sweet and salty zest. Its laundry list of ingredients included apple, vinegar and even caramel. Perhaps not for everyone, but still worth a taste.

The Myzen Ramen ($10.95) came out before we even cleaned off the appetizer. Made with the beloved Tonkotsu base broth, the meal didn’t arrive in the biggest of bowls for its price. Thankfully, the first mouthful didn’t disappoint. The broth—the backbone of any ramen bowl—had a creamy, pure body. Verging away from standard tonkotsu soups, the formula went easy on the salt and instead trusted the robust pork flavor to deliver.

The chashu pork cutlets were a delight. The meat easily gave way and melted as I chewed through each slice, exceeding my expectations of a standard ramen topping. The egg was light on the soy sauce, though the yolk was pleasantly half runny, half gelled. The rest of the toppings were typical, but overall, the bowl roped in the right components where it mattered.

Myzen also offers rice bowls and salads. The Katsu-Rice ($7.99) followed the trend of cooking light, with each sliver of meat cloaked in a thin, lightly fried batter. The dish carried a fresh pork taste decently, though the portion size didn’t add up to a full meal.

With recipes that don’t take shortcuts in flavor but do present a few new approaches, Myzen should see crowds accrue over the next year.

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