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

Forget about those packets of instant noodles you ate in college — these craveworthy bowls of ramen 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.

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.

Brooklyn: Mokbar

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.

Brooklyn: Chuko

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.

Honolulu: Agu

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.

Boston: Oisa

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.

Dallas: R&B

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

Red Light Ramen initially served only tonkotsu ramen and boozy slushies after hours at its James Beard Award-nominated sister restaurant Ardent, but by popular demand they opened full-time in the space next door. Now the menu offers both a tonkotsu ramen and a mushroom miso ramen with enoki mushrooms, miso, scallions, bamboo shoots, nori, egg and greens, as well as a variety of snacks, Japanese curry, sake and beer. There's often a line to get in here, thanks to a fun vibe with an old-school hip-hop soundtrack and plenty of drink options.

Boston: Ruckus

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 chef’s 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.

Minneapolis: Moto-i

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.

More About: Moto-i

Ann Arbor: Slurping Turtle

Japanese Chef Takashi Yagihashi branched out beyond his home base in Chicago to open Slurping Turtle in Ann Arbor in the spring of 2014. He offers a variety of bowls, including a cold chilled version, red miso, spicy tan tan and spicy seafood “chiyan pon” with crisp ramen noodles. His classic tonkotsu ramen is tremendously satisfying, made with thin homemade ramen noodles, silky pork broth, lean pork chashu, bok choy, pickled mustard greens and braised wood ear mushrooms, and drizzled with chili oil.

More About: Slurping Turtle

Philadelphia: Cheu Noodle Bar

Something you won’t likely find in Japan is ramen with brisket and matzo balls. Or perhaps coconut curry ramen with peas, herbs and peanut sambal. But this is Philly, not Tokyo. Fans of this nontraditional noodle joint wax poetic about the luxuriously buttery miso ramen with pork shoulder, egg, sea beans, bean sprouts, scallions and black garlic.
Photo courtesy of Mitchell Leff

More About: Cheu Noodle Bar

Chicago: Ramen-san

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.
Photo courtesy of Jeff Marini

More About: Ramen-san

Decatur: Taiyo Ramen

Taiyo, in the Atlanta suburb of Decatur, serves dishes inspired by Asian street food, made with local and seasonal ingredients. Their version of ramen is the Korean “ramyun,” made with roasted pork from Heritage Farms Cheshire pork, noodles from the Sun Noodle factory, a poached egg and an “overnight broth” that is spiced up with kimchi and poached garlic. Other craveable dishes include pork and shrimp wontons, steamed buns filled with pork belly or Korean fried chicken, and Korean fusion tacos.
Photo courtesy of Tuan Huynh

More About: Taiyo

Denver: Uncle

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.

More About: Uncle

New Orleans: Kin

New Orleans may not be known for ramen, but some of its most-famous ingredients factor in nicely to a hearty bowl of noodles. At his Gert Town noodle shop, Hieu Than offers five different types of ramen: traditional tonkotsu, shio styles, oxtail, tom yum and corn miso. The most alluring may be the pan-Asian versions that feature crawfish, for a hearty adaptation of bisque, or beef debris. 

More About: Kin

Emeryville, Calif.: Shiba Ramen

Shiba is a 400-square-foot shop in the Emeryville Market run by two chemists with doctorates from Harvard, husband and wife Jake Freed and Hiroko Nakamura. Nakamura not only grew up in Japan, but she also studied at the Tokyo Ramen Academy. Modeled on ramen shops in Japan, Shiba serves bowls that are inexpensive, quick and delicious. There are three or four different kinds of ramen each day, including ramen with no soup — in the form of cold ramen salad or hot dry ramen. Dry ramen is served with bean sprouts, soft-boiled egg, pork or chicken chashu, bamboo shoots, green onions and nori paper. 

More About: Shiba Ramen

San Francisco: Namu Gaji

Namu brings the local, organic, sustainable mantra to its eclectic and Asian-inflected cuisine. There’s just one ramen, but it’s available on both the brunch and dinner menu. The chicken ramen is made with Tokyo-style noodles, sous-vide chicken breast, bean sprouts, an onsen egg, sesame and nori in a mild paitan-inspired broth. After serving ramen and even Korean ramyun, the Lee family is planning to open a noodle-centric spot. 

More About: Namu Gaji

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. 

Photo courtesy of Bonjwing Lee

More About: Columbus Park Ramen Shop

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. 

Photo courtesy of Ocean Photo Studio and Tsujita

More About: Tsujita LA Artisan Noodle

St. Louis: Pastaria

You might be surprised to find ramen on the menu at an Italian restaurant, but chef Gerard Craft melds the flavors of Italy and Asia into Italian ramen at this casual spot. Instead of ramen noodles, housemade spaghettini bathes in an umami-rich broth with chicken, a hard-poached egg, basil and a dusting of Grana Padano. Don’t knock it till you try it; cheese in ramen is all the rage in Japan.

More About: Pastaria

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. 

Photo courtesy of Jannie Huang

More About: Marukin

Oakland, Calif.: Itani Ramen

In summer nothing could be cooler than a noodle salad version of ramen. Japanese-American Chef Kyle Itani’s ramen was inspired by Chinese chicken salad and hiyashi chuka somen, a popular summer dish of thin wheat noodles. The overall flavor of the dish is light and refreshing; Itani explains that the ingredients have complementary contrasting textures of chewy ramen noodles against sweet raw corn, crunchy sliced snap peas and gushingly ripe cherry tomatoes, with a dashi soy dressing, all combining for a harmonious bowl of noodles. 

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Detroit: Johnny Noodle King

At Johnny Noodle King there are all kinds of “Japanese-inspired” noodle bowls, from pho to red curry and even a Southwest fusion version with pork shoulder, tripe, pickled tomatillos, corn, cilantro and chile. The traditional ramen on the menu is shoyu, which is layered with flavor and features pork belly, nori, egg, bamboo, scallions, kamaboko fish cake and bonito flakes. But customizing is encouraged, and you can add on pickled daikon, wakame, butter, sprouts or even MSG!
Photo courtesy of Michael Dubicki

More About: Johnny Noodle King

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).

Photo courtesy of Andrea Behrends 

More About: Two Ten Jack

Oakland: Ramen Shop

Opened by Chez Panisse alumni, Ramen Shop has a California sensibility with a version of miso ramen that changes all the time. According to Chef-Partner Jerry Jaksich, the ramen soup base stays constant with a blend of tonkotsu and dashi broth that’s made in-house. The kitchen also uses ground pork belly, cabbage and yellow onions all cooked to order in the wok before the miso tare and soup is added. The miso tare is very special and very secretive and has more than 30 ingredients, but it includes organic white and red miso from California. They source all their ingredients from local farms, so toppings feature the best of the season such as corn, eggplant or peppers. 

More About: Ramen Shop

Philadelphia: Kung Fu Hoagies

A vegetarian and vegan food cart specializing in sandwiches may not seem like the most-obvious place for ramen, but this cart ladles a great bowl of noodles. Owner and partner Paul Davis admits he always loved springy noodles and sharp, oily pickles. His version features vegetarian chicken, spicy bean paste and broth found in many Southeast Asian, Vietnamese and Chinese cuisines, with a few fresh cucumbers, cilantro, lime and fried shallots on top. 

More About: Kung Fu Hoagies

San Francisco: Mensho

Direct from Tokyo, Mensho opened in early 2016, expanding the chainlet of six shops throughout Japan. The chef imports ingredients from Japan, mixing them with produce from the local farmers market. While the paitan and shoyu ramens are good, the vegan tantanmen ramen might be the richest and most luxurious of all. The vegetable-based soup is made with konbu and mushrooms, Japanese soy cream and seven types of nuts for texture, then topped with sesame, cilantro, chile oil, green onion, menma — a kind of fermented bamboo shoots — and kale sprouts.

More About: Mensho

Nashville: Otaku

Otaku offers a number of chef-inspired takes on ramen, including smoky corn mazeman and Tennessee tonkatsu. Chef-Owner Sarah Gavigan roasts a chicken with lemon about once a week. That dish is the inspiration behind her lemon paitan ramen, which she describes as an amped-up grandma's chicken soup. The lemon paitan ramen comes with a creamy chicken broth, roasted chicken, charred lemon, seasonal greens, sesame, scallions and egg. “Putting the two together for an all-chicken ramen felt good,” she explains. 

More About: Otaku

Portland: Noraneko

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. 

Photo courtesy of Heather Hawksford

More About: Noraneko

San Francisco: Waraku

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.

More About: Waraku

New York: Ippudo

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.

More About: Ippudo