Santouka Toroniku Ramen (#7). Shio broth is silky and complex with balanced salt, seafood and pork flavors and a sesame note. The special pork (pork cheek?) is thinly sliced with a nice ribbon of fat that softens in the broth, nice soy flavor and tenderness. Noodles were good though not notable. Halu's noodles are more to my taste, but the broth at Halu is overly bitter (from smoke or garlic?). I prefer Santouka's deeply flavored and well balanced soup over the other local places. Rice with Salmon Roe is fine though nothing special just good rice with a splash of vinegar and a heaping of Ikura. Next time try the spicy miso ramen.
Standouts were the bouches, particularly the croquettes with a dipping sauce and a squid salad. I wish I could run through all the bouches, but let's just say its safe to order all of them. The entrees were another story. The slow roasted beef was tender and moist, yet lacked depth of flavor. The fish entree was perfectly cooked and simply presented, something I'd choose over the beef next time. The menu is straightforward SF style comfort food, nothing too adventurous. The service was excellent -- friendly, gracious and attentive without being intrusive. To me, a neighorhood restaurant has very friendly service, a comfortable and somewhat casual atmosphere (they seem happy that you came), the food is good (though it doesn't have to be great), and the prices low enough that one could eat there several times a week without feeling over indulgent. I'd say Frances meets almost all of those, except that the execution is much higher than what you'd expect and their prices slightly higher. I'll return and probably order from the top of the card.