Beat the Winter Blahs with Steaming Bowls of Ramen from Coast to Coast
Ramen has established its place on the list of ultimate comfort foods. Forget about those packets of instant noodles you ate in college — these craveworthy bowls are the real deal. You’ll now find this slippery noodle dish all across the country, not just in dorms and Japanese enclaves. Chefs are putting their spin on it, creating their own mash-up versions with everything from coconut curry broth to toppings like matzo balls or cheese. Check out the full gallery for all 12 steaming bowls that are sure to beat your winter blues.
Executive Chef and Partner Doug Psaltis isn’t Japanese, but his ramen broth and noodles are still very traditional. His ramen broth comes in three styles — pork tonkotsu, shoyu and a shiitake vegetarian — and the Tokyo wavy-style noodles are made to his exact specification by Ken Shiro at the Sun Noodle factory. The piece de resistance is the massive hearty sumo bowl, with chashu pork, beef brisket and a molten egg.
While Uncle in Denver may be serious about the provenance of their ingredients, such as heirloom breeds of pork, Maple Leaf Farms duck and free-range eggs, their ramen is out-of-the-box creative. A favorite is the rich sausage ramen with double pork broth, cabbage, scallions and Parmesan. A purveyor makes the sausage to their specifications, seasoning it with salt, sugar, onion powder, Japanese chili powder and rice wine vinegar.
This ramen and sake house brews all their own sake onsite and serves several different versions of ramen. While many rave about the classic pork ramen with pork broth, with two kinds of pork, others are devotees of the bright and refreshing brothless abura ramen with smoked pork shoulder, an egg, pickled red onions, scallions, chili oil, ponzu sauce and bonito flakes. There’s also a vegetarian brothless ramen with maitake mushrooms. Slurp the noodles with soup or without, depending upon your mood.
For many, Ippudo is the platonic ideal of ramen. Soul food, cosmos in a bowl, Ippudo claims to have transformed ramen into art, and ... well, it’s true. An outpost from the restaurant’s founder, Shigemi Kawahara, the “Ramen King of Japan,” Ippudo prides itself on consistency, and the pure tonkotsu broth, a rich and creamy pork bone broth, is proof of that. It takes two days to prepare. For heat seekers, bakudan, a spicy chile paste, is a must-have addition.
Should you eat the noodles first, or the broth? If you eat the noodles first, the broth may grow cold, and if you eat the broth first, the noodles may get soggy. San Francisco’s Waraku solves this problem. Order the tsukemen ramen and the warm, peppery, saucelike broth and cool, chewy noodles are served separately, so you can dip the strands as you go. The tsukemen ramen comes with slices of chashu pork, green onions, bamboo shoots, kikurage mushrooms, bean sprouts and an oozy smoked egg.
Browse the full gallery and let us know in the comments: What’s your favorite local spot for a ramen fix?