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6:30 p.m. Tue.-Sun.: Best Ramen for Dinner 

Katana-Ya Ramen

Yes, ramen for dinner. No, not that stuff that costs 99 cents and comes out of a bag, hard as a brick, with tiny packets of MSG. That, of course, is depressing fare best suited to people who work for -- or used to work for -- underfunded Internet start-ups. Katana-Ya Ramen does ramen the right way -- with plentiful, chewy noodles and a light but flavorful broth in a large, heavy bowl. A bowl of ramen at Katana-Ya Ramen is very filling. Dinner time around here is a pretty busy affair. The tables are usually full, and the high school students who wait on them are attentive and good-natured. But don't be fooled by this eatery's name. Katana-Ya Ramen is more than a ramen shop in a nondescript El Cerrito strip mall. It's an all-around Japanese restaurant, tastefully decorated with paper lanterns and a full menu, including a large sushi menu. The sashimi here is very fresh and above average. And so is just about everything else.

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