Where to Slurp Great Ramen from Coast to Coast
Ramen has established its place on the list of ultimate comfort foods. Here's where to find craveworthy bowls across the country.
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Get Your Ramen Fix
Santa Rosa, California: Bird & The Bottle
Named for “a hot bird and a cold bottle,” a double entendre used to describe a night on the town before World War I, Bird & The Bottle is the sixth restaurant from James Beard Outstanding Restaurateur semifinalists Mark and Terri Stark. The casual restaurant brings intriguing interpretations of street food to life. A runaway hit on the brunch menu is the craveworthy bacon-and-egg ramen made with kimchi broth, topped with a poached egg, bacon and pickled shiitake mushrooms.
Mokbar chef-owner and Food Network Kitchen alum Esther Choi grew up cooking traditional Korean food with her grandmother. One of her most-popular bowls of ramen is inspired by the popular Korean dish army stew, or budae jjigae, which is made from kimchi, ham, sausage, Spam, baked beans and other canned products. The original stew was made in Korea from U.S. Army base rations in the postwar period, when food was scarce. Choi's version is made from 8-to-10-hour tonkotsu broth, a special spicy gochujang paste mix and fresh ramen noodles, topped with stewed bacon, kimchi, Spam, sausage, tofu, pork belly, mozzarella cheese and watercress.
Fairfax, Virginia: Marumen
Serving “happiness in a bowl,” Marumen offers Korean-influenced ramen. Its most-popular bowl is spicy miso ramen made with a pork paitan broth and a blend of soybean miso paste, red pepper paste and chili oil. The broth takes 14 hours to cook, developing depth and complexity. It’s garnished with stir-fried bean sprouts, scallions, half a marinated egg, a slice of chashu-style pork belly and a sheet of nori (roasted seaweed). The specialty bowls include spicy mazemen, a brothless style of ramen, and “army” ramen with sausage, Spam, pork shoulder, kimchi, cabbage, bean sprouts, scallions and onions.
Oklahoma City: Goro Ramen
Goro Ramen started life as a pop-up and now packs the house at lunch and dinner. The menu, consisting of Chef Jeff Chanchaleune’s playful snacks and ramen, is a mash-up of Japanese flavors and techniques with Korean, Chinese, Thai and Vietnamese dishes the chef has cooked, eaten and enjoyed. Specialties include vegan yellow curry ramen with coconut and vegan broth, tofu, mustard greens, yellow bell peppers, cilantro and peanuts; and yasai with vegan broth, tofu, roasted tomato, mushrooms, fried shallots and negi.
Madison, Wisconsin: Morris Ramen
Morris Ramen, like many other ramen shops, doesn’t take reservations or offer takeout on its ramen menu orders, the better to preserve the quality of each bowl. It does, however, offer ramen bibs for those in business attire — a wise precaution here, where slurping is not just allowed but encouraged. The ramen dishes are crafted with local ingredients by two Madison natives, Matt Morris and Francesca Hong, along with Sapporo-born chef and partner Shinji Muramoto. One specialty is their Hiyashi Chuka cold ramen with a half-boiled ajitama egg, rhubarb kimchi, asparagus, micro daikon greens, nori and scallion.
Tukwila, Washington: Arashi Ramen
Arashi, with locations in Seattle and Edmonds in addition to its original location in Tukwila, believes the essence of ramen is in the broth, not the noodles. The signature tonkotsu broth is made by Master Chef Daisuke Ueda and takes over 16 hours to make. The restaurant offers shio, shoyu, miso and spicy miso tonkotsu ramen, as well as specialties such as black garlic ramen, tantanmen and a cold sweet-soy ramen. Super-hungry diners may want to add an order of takoyaki, gyoza or crisp karaage chicken.
Fort Lauderdale, Florida: Etaru Las Olas
The name Etaru is a play on the Japanese word for “ether,” and while this is primarily a robata-style grill restaurant, the pork belly ramen here is very popular as well. This simple and very traditional dish reflects the owners' goal of giving diners the most-classic Japanese ramen possible. The noodles are egg- and flour-based and curly, chosen for their great ability to absorb all the ramen broth, and the bowl comes topped with grilled bamboo, scallions and nori in addition to pork belly.
Los Angeles: Hinoki & the Bird
Chef Brandon Kida's butter lobster ramen at Hinoki & the Bird has received raves from press and diners alike. Kida starts by butchering a fresh live lobster, removing all of the meat and using the shells to make a richly flavorful lobster broth. While the broth is reducing, Kida makes the ramen noodles by hand and then poaches the lobster meat in boiling butter. Too rich to serve during the summer, this dish is available in fall, winter and spring. In winter a thick slice of pork belly is added, turning it into an even heartier meal in a bowl.
Chuko means "vintage" in Japanese, and this shop pays homage to traditional ramen but also incorporates new ingredients. Two Morimoto alums opened the original shop in Prospect Heights, and their latest shop is in Williamsburg. Specialties include their cold summer ramen and vegetarian-based broths. Each bowl comes with a choice of roasted pork, steamed chicken, spicy ground pork or tofu and a bowl of chunky roasted garlic and chiles in oil to add as you desire. To balance out the carbs, choose a kale salad or crispy Brussels sprouts as a side dish.
Studio City, California: Jinya
Tomonori Takahashi opened his first Jinya in Tokyo in 2000 and his first in California 10 years later. The restaurant offers something for everybody: 13 signature ramen bowls; thick, thin and spinach dry-aged noodles that take three days to make; four kinds of broth simmered for over 10 hours; and more than two dozen toppings. The luscious Spicy Creamy Vegan Ramen features vegetable broth, tofu, onion, scallion, spinach, crispy onion, garlic chips, garlic oil, chili oil and sesame seeds, served with thick noodles. The chain is rapidly expanding across the United States and Canada, and currently has more than 25 locations.
New Paltz, New York: Lagusta's Luscious Commissary
Lagusta Yearwood, a passionate vegan chef, first opened a chocolate shop and then expanded. Lagusta’s Luscious Commissary is a vegan cafe offering granola, nut cheeses and cafe drinks, and makes a special vegan ramen with a creamy tahini miso broth, seaweed, marinated tofu, local mushrooms, seasonal vegetables, housemade hot sauce and molecular vegan eggs with surprisingly runny yolks. The noodles are from the U.S.’s largest producer of ramen noodles, Sun Noodles. Something of a rarity, the ramen is available every other Tuesday at 5 p.m. It’s always featured on the cafe's social media accounts; search for #rammissary to confirm.
Easton, Pennsylvania: Mister Lee's Noodles
The only ramen shop in the region, Mister Lee’s is located in an indoor market that has helped revitalize downtown Easton. Chef Lee Chizmar and Erin Shea, the "farm-to-table" duo of the Lehigh Valley, best known for their award-winning restaurant Bolete, created Mister Lee’s Noodles in 2016 as a fun and nontraditional take on Japanese noodles. The chefs hand-pull their noodles, make a homemade dashi for their broth, and source from local farms, exposing diners to the area's bounty. They offer both hot and cold bowls of ramen, including a bacon ramen with bacon-dashi broth and tempura bacon.
Washington, D.C.: Momofuku CCDC
Momofuku CCDC, which opened in 2015, has a constantly evolving menu focusing on seasonal dishes that feature Mid-Atlantic purveyors. Something of a ramen fanatic, Momofuku founder David Chang offered a recipe for ramen in the Momofuku cookbook that includes kombu, dried shiitakes, chicken legs, pork leg, smoky bacon, onions and a carrot. Though ramen is a mainstay of the Momofuku empire, at CCDC it is available only at brunch and lunch. The pork ramen comes with pork shoulder, bean sprouts and a poached egg.
Since launching in 2013 in Honolulu, Agu has quickly expanded to five Oahu locations and is now moving onto the mainland in Texas. Known for its signature broth, which takes 24 hours to create, one of its top specialties is kotteri ramen (kotteri describes the thick and rich consistency of the broth). The addictive kotteri with cheese starts with extra-rich tonkotsu broth made with black garlic oil, garlic chips and succulent pork back fat and is topped with a huge, and airy pile of fine wisps of Parmesan cheese that melts into the soup.
Tacoma, Washington: Moshi Moshi
Open since April 2018, Moshi Moshi (named for the typical greeting in Japanese) is a ramen spot where many of the ingredients, including noodles, sauces and condiments, are made in-house. The ramen is made with a tonkotsu shoyu broth that is fortified with a tare, a type of dipping sauce that has sweet and sour notes from housemade vinegar and palm sugar. The bowl is topped with aka miso and wagiri chile ground pork, and finished with an egg yolk, toki togarashi seasoning, rayu Japanese chili oil and shredded nori.
Queens, New York: Mu Ramen
After four years in business, Mu Ramen just underwent a renovation that more than doubled its size. The chef behind the popular Long Island City shop is Joshua Smookler, who has a background in fine dining. Like many ramen chefs, he isn't Japanese. In fact, he was born in Korea and raised in a Jewish family in New York, which perhaps explains his love of both noodle soups and spicy flavors. At this true fusion spot, his latest menu features the signature Mu Ramen with Ibérico pork bone broth, Jamón Ibérico and arugula.
San Francisco: Nojo
Nojo Ramen Tavern in San Francisco is an offshoot of a ramen company headquartered in Tokyo. In both Japan and the U.S. they focus on chicken-based ramen, rather than the more common pork, offering ramen with chicken meatballs, chicken leg, shredded chicken tenders or ground chicken. But the veggie miso ramen is as satisfying as any of the chicken versions. It features a seasoned ground soybean and brown rice topping that has the taste and texture of ground meat, along with fresh corn, Japanese greens, beet chips, scallion, okra and a combination of garlic oil and butter.
Fukuoka, Japan, native Moe Kuroki opened Oisa initially as a pop-up and then evolved it into a small, standing-bar "slurp shop." The menu is composed of four types of ramen plus cold ramen salads and rice bowls. A top choice is the vegan-friendly version of shoyu ramen. The smoky shoyu is made from a harmonious balance of tomato noodles for natural sweetness and umami; tare seasoning; broth made with mirepoix, kelp and water; aromatic oils and toppings. Shiitake mushroom, the main topping, is cooked with clove, star anise and allspice to create a smoky flavor, and burned shallot oil adds another layer of flavor.
Brooklyn: Okonomi/Yuji Ramen
Yuji Ramen was once a pop-up but is now located at Okonomi. The menu offers three kinds of ramen and four kinds of mazeman (dry, brothless ramen), which is a riot of flavors and textures. One mazeman is the bacon and egg, with bacon, an onsen egg, mustard greens and bonito flakes. Taking a lighter, seafood-focused approach is the innovative Tunakotsu ramen, made from a tuna paitan broth with tuna belly chashu, leeks and spicy citrus yuzu kosho. The signature Okonomi Shoyu ramen is made from a fish broth with roasted ocean perch and collard greens.
R&B features the simplicity of a modern Japanese ramen-and-bao house, with limited seating and a stand-up counter. Ramen highlights include the tantanmen, with spicy pork ragu, chili oil, sesame, mustard greens, bamboo, peanuts, soft egg and chicken broth; and the brothless bacon, egg and cheese mazeman with pork belly, soy maple, scallion, soft egg and cured yolk. Because it's located on the ground floor of The Statler Hotel, diners can access the restaurant from the street, making it an ideal spot for a quick lunch or late-night bite.
Palo Alto, California: Ramen Nagi
Chef Satoshi Ikuta, who trained in famed Hakata ramen shops, is the founder of Ramen Nagi. This spot is known for its traditional and fusion broth flavors, which vary based on location. Diners can customize the level of salt, the density of the broth, the level of noodle doneness, the types of meat and the toppings in each bowl. The signature bowl is a straightforward tonkotsu style, but also winning fans are the Green King ramen, with basil, olive oil and Parmesan, and the Red King ramen, with a bright blend of garlic, chili oil and cayenne pepper.
Milwaukee: Red Light Ramen
Since opening in 2017, Ruckus in Chinatown has been serving up a variety of modern takes on Japanese noodle dishes, including ramen made with housemade noodles. Chef Mike Stark’s Miso Lit Ramen is made with a spicy miso broth, a soy egg, ground pork, grilled corn, shaved nori, bean sprouts and Ruckus paste, a housemade chili paste. Optional additions to take your ramen up a notch include smoked marrow butter, pig tail XO sauce or the Umami Bomb — whipped pork butter. The cool space features bold Murakami prints and Star Wars samurai figurines.
Brooklyn: Shalom Japan
After hearing the name Shalom Japan, you won’t be surprised to learn that the chef-proprietors are Aaron Israel from New York and Sawako Okochi from Hiroshima. Their menu beautifully blends Jewish and Japanese traditions in dishes like okonomiyaki with sauerkraut and pastrami, a lox bowl with rice and Japanese pickle, and their signature ramen: a matzo ball, a foie gras dumpling, pieces of chicken, and vegetables like scallions and baby corn, all cooked in a chicken soup base that imbues the matzo ball with its flavor.
Las Vegas: Shinya Maru
You'll find a taste of Japan in Las Vegas with each slurp of the Shinya Way to Heaven ramen, Shinya Maru's version of the classic tonkotsu. The bowl starts with a light, creamy broth that's simmered for 15 hours. The thick-cut chasu is roasted and torched to give it a crisp char, and bamboo shoots and bean sprouts provide additional crunch and a touch of freshness. A drizzle of smoky black garlic oil amplifies the soup's rich flavor and adds depth. The bowl is topped with green onions, soft-boiled egg and a naruto fish cake.
Los Angeles: Tatsu Ramen
Tatsu Ramen offers traditional and not-so-traditional ramen, including a gluten-free option. The signature bowl here is Soul Ramen, made with tonkotsu broth, black garlic oil and sweet umami sauce and served with ground beef and a choice of pork, chicken or tofu. Other specialties include the Naked Ramen, with no broth, vegan-friendly curly noodles with sweet sesame glaze, lime and crunchy whole-wheat breadcrumbs, and the Hippie Ramen, with vegan broth (based on sweet onion and soy sauce, with a hint of ginger), spinach and a choice of pork, chicken or tofu.
Denver: The Corner Office
The Corner Office is a Denver martini bar and restaurant serving global takes on comfort food, which always include a version of ramen. Executive Chef Rich Byers masterfully composes veggie ramen with portobello mushrooms, miso broth, a 63-degree egg, chili sambal and seasonal vegetables such as broccolini or snap peas and arugula. This downtown restaurant is attached to The Curtis Hotel and is across the street from the Denver Center for the Performing Arts, making it a convenient spot to stop in before or after a show.
Minneapolis: Tori 44
Tori 44 is an offshoot of Tori Ramen and is pork-free. To make the ramen accessible to all, the restaurant offers vegetarian broths as well as fowl-based ones (chicken, as well as duck and pheasant when in season). The latest special is the Dra(mn), or Dramen Ramen, described as "drama in a bowl." It combines three base flavors — Bali Bali, torikotsu, and supra — with chicken chashu, soft-boiled egg, vegetables, black garlic oil, chili oil, scallion and sesame. Always on the menu is the vegan Best Seller, a vegetarian-shoyu ramen with seasonal vegetables, bean sprouts, burdock, seaweeds, fermented mushrooms, scallion oil, sesame and scallions.
Wichita, Kansas: Yokohama Ramen
Yokohoma Ramen chef-owner Yasunari Fukuda is from Yokohama, Japan, and shares his home style of ramen as well as his own creations at the shop he opened in 2016. The B.T.T.M., or spicy beef tongue tantanmen, is his newest offering, a combination of a spicy miso base mix with a secret savory broth. The beef tongue is cooked for four hours and marinated with the chefâs special sauce overnight, and the bowl includes local farm-to-table micro sprouts and homemade pickled radish. The shop also offers habanero garlic ramen, black garlic ramen and great vegan options.
Omaha, Nebraska: Yoshi-Ya
Ramen has taken hold in the heartland. Yoshi-Ya Ramen, located inside the Midwest food hall Flagship Commons, has the goal of restoring ramen from the taint of association with packaged instant noodles. One of the signature dishes here is the crowd-pleasing chicken-based tori paitan ramen, with chicken broth, an ajitama egg, bean sprouts, negi onions, corn, naruto Japanese fish cake and chicken chashu. The shop also offers the classic tonkotsu and a vegan version with shiitake, bean sprouts, corn and spinach. On the side there are bites including fried chicken skins, Nikuman pork buns and gyoza dumplings.
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Ann Arbor: Slurping Turtle
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Philadelphia: Cheu Noodle Bar
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Decatur: Taiyo Ramen
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New Orleans: Kin
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Emeryville, Calif.: Shiba Ramen
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San Francisco: Namu Gaji
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Kansas City: Columbus Park Ramen Shop
Josh Eans and his wife like to think of themselves as running a Midwestern ramen shop, not a place that is trying to emulate ramen from New York City or Japan. Their ramen is "chef-driven," which means creative and seasonally inspired, and they pride themselves on supporting local farmers and growers. Kimchi ramen comes with a soft-boiled egg, housemade kimchi, Chinese-style pork sausage, scallions and "Missouri Kake," which is a play on the Japanese seasoning furikake.
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Los Angeles: Tsujita LA Artisan Noodle
Tsujita is known for two types of ramen noodles. Tsukemen is when the soup is served on the side, so the noodles can be dipped, rather than sitting in broth becoming soggy; the other style is Hakata Nagahama-style ramen, where the noodles are served in tonkotsu pork broth and customers can choose to have their noodles cooked to their preference of soft, medium or hard texture. Both types are served with the broth that is slowly simmered for 60 hours with seafood added for sweetness and richness.
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St. Louis: Pastaria
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Portland, Ore.: Marukin
Direct from Japan, Marukin makes its own noodles and operates under the direction of a ramen specialist, a Tokyo native and a ramen veteran. The restaurant has two locations, each serving a different soup each day, such as tonkotsu, miso or paitan, and a vegan option, such as shoyu or red ramen. Add fire by ordering a red broth — vegan red, tonkotsu red or paitan red — for soup thickly coated in spicy chile flakes and oil, sure to warm you to the bone.
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Oakland, Calif.: Itani Ramen
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Detroit: Johnny Noodle King
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Nashville: Two Ten Jack
Two Ten Jack is a Japanese card game, but it's also the name of an izakaya with locations in Nashville and Chattanooga, featuring kodawari ramen — ramen showcasing well-sourced ingredients — and Japanese pub food. They are known for their tori paitan ramen — "tori" meaning chicken, and "paitan" meaning cloudy soup — made from boiling chicken bones and feet for about 12 hours. The restaurant gets chicken bones from Joyce Family Farms in North Carolina and Springer Mountain Farms in Georgia. The complete bowl consists of tsukune chicken meatballs, shimeji mushrooms, local collard greens, rayu spicy chile oil and ajitama (soft-boiled egg).
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Oakland: Ramen Shop
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Philadelphia: Kung Fu Hoagies
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San Francisco: Mensho
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Time in Japan inspired Gabe Rosen and Kina Voelz to open an izakaya and this ramen shop, whose name is Japanese for "stray cat." The duo’s shoyu ramen comes with pork shoulder chashu and egg. Committed to sustainability and wellness — with offerings like veggie burgers and fresh fruit and vegetable juices squeezed to order — the shop beneath the Hawthorne Bridge is also fun. It offers cocktails and stays open until 2 a.m. every day, and there are DJs on the weekend.
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San Francisco: Waraku
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New York: Ippudo
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