Let me start by saying the Korean instant ramen is WORLDS, maybe galaxies better than American instant ramen. Not than anyone is claiming that Top Ramen or Cup of Noodles is fine dining, but Korean instant ramen is actually an enjoyable thing to eat without any doctoring. Obvioulsy, it's still terrible for you, so it's not something I'm eating all the time but once in a while, it hits the spot for lunch. Proper ramen, and actually all Japanese food, has been a different story. I've had some truly, truly awful ramen. Thankfully, Menya Sandaime is not that.
Menya Sandaime is a cozy twenty-four hour ramen shop on Itaewon-ro that's easy to miss even if you're looking for it. Extra confusing is a Korean ramyen shop next door with a clearly visible sign. Don't go in there. Menya Sandaime is the place with no Korean on the outside but pictures of the menu in the window and a sliding door you almost have to duck to get through. Also, you can see their big pasta roller through the window. It's pretty neat to watch the pasta roller in use, I've never worked with such a large one.
Your ramen experience here depends on ordering right. The first time we went Dan got the Tonkatsu Ramen, Lara got the Karakuchi Ramen and I got the Miso Ramen. The Miso Ramen was not very flavorful and was the least liked of the three by all of us. I wouldn't order it again. Dan's Tonkatsu Ramen had a nice char undertone and was definitely richer than the miso broth. It was good, definitely much better than any other ramen we'd had in Korea at that point, but not great. The Karakuchi Ramen is where it's at. I ordered it for myself for lunch the other day and was very happy. Don't let the picture above fool you, I know a lot of spicy ramens in America look obviously spicy, it's definitely got some heat. They're quite generous with the chasu here and any day where I get to eat a good amount of pork belly is a good day in my book.
The restaurant itself is very small and you may be asked to move seats to best accommodate larger groups if you're eating by yourself. The first time we went they also wanted to seat two of us at a table and one person at the bar. We declined and just waited a few extra minutes to get seated together. However, it was a Friday night and shortly after we were seated we noticed there was a pretty long line outside, so we might've just gotten lucky with our wait time. It's also pretty busy at week day lunch time but not busy enough for a line outside. The good news is that since it's open twenty-four hours, there are plenty of off hours in which you can get your ramen fix if restaurant waits are really not your thing.
Menya Sandaime is only a couple of blocks from my twice a week physical therapy, so I suspect I am basically going to be there all the time.
For there full menu, and all there locations check out there website.
The address for the Itaewon location is 126-17 Itaewon-dong