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Ramen Spots Bubble Up

Restaurants serving delicious Japanese ramen soup are popping up across the West.

Bowl of ramen with eggs, Kansui Ramen, San Jose, image
Photo caption
Kansui’s tasty ramens include soft-boiled eggs, seaweed, and shiitake mushrooms.

Forget the flavor packet: In recent years, ramen made from long-simmered broth, fresh noodles, and a variety of toppings has emerged at restaurants across the West. Some of these new shops serve strictly traditional Japanese ramen, but many incorporate local ingredients ranging from goat pastrami to Meyer lemons. All serve a soup that’s vastly more delicious than anything in a Styrofoam cup.

  • Order the Shaka Bowl at Hapa PDX in Portland: The cold noodles arrive separately and you dip them into the hot broth, which is packed with chunks of luscious pork belly. “Think of it as deconstructed ramen,” says owner Michael Littman. (503) 560-0393, hapapdx.com.
  • In Las Vegas, tiny Monta Ramen boasts big flavors. Try the classic pork tonkotsu ramen, which has, as the menu puts it, “a creamy consistency that rivals milk or melted butter or gravy.” (702) 367-4600, montaramen.com.
  • The selections at the popular Ramen Shop in Oakland, founded by Chez Panisse alumni, change nightly to reflect what’s freshest. In winter, look for Dungeness crab ramen with the coral-colored meat on top and the unctuous butter and shells enriching the broth below. (510) 788-6370, ramenshop.com.
  • “I don’t pretend to be traditional,” says chef Patrick Fleming of Portland’s Boke Bowl. Look for seasonal specialties such as hearty winter ramen topped with duck confit and fried brussels sprouts. (503) 719-5698, bokebowl.com.
  • Eager to try one of those trendy ramen burgers? At Nudo Ramen House in Spokane, Wash., Kobe beef patties come sandwiched in griddled nests of ramen noodles instead of buns. “The ramen gets crisp on the outside, but then it’s warm and soft all the way through,” says owner Josh Hissong. (509) 290-5763, nudoramen.com.
  • Experimenting with local ingredients, Hiroshi Umemoto, owner of Naruto in Anchorage, discovered that Alaskan halibut produces a nearly translucent golden broth. “It tastes quite interesting, a little sweet,” says Umemoto of his trademark soup. (907) 278-3050, facebook.com/japaneserestaurantnaruto.
  • Everything at Café Genevieve in Jackson, Wyo., is house made, from the noodles to the pickled daikon to the broth. “It’s a killer broth,” says manager Glenn Smith. “I can’t tell you how many people I’ve seen pick up the bowl and slurp it down when there’s nothing left to chopstick.” (307) 732-1910, genevievejh.com.

Photography by Melissa Barnes

This article was first published in January 2015 and updated in March 2015. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.