When we first think of ramen, we might think of Brittany Murphy’s memorable role in The Ramen Girl, or we think of college days when instant ramen and Red Bull were the only things we consumed for nutrition. Who would have thought that such a thing as gourmet ramen even existed? Trying freshly steamed ramen redefines the college ramen experience and is a must for any foodie.
Although ramen hasn’t taken off as well as sushi and sashimi, its delicate texture and aromatic quality are forces to be reckoned with. The Japanese truly go nuts for this renowned national classic. If you’re one of those people that has only tried sushi and thinks that’s enough Japanese cuisine for you, then you’re truly missing out! However, in the US, finding a Japanese restaurant that serves ramen, good ramen to be specific, is a rarity. This is because in many US cities, there will usually be a few Japanese restaurants, but ramen is typically never on their menus.
Rickmond Wong, a self-proclaimed ramen expert, names a few favorite ramen eateries in California in an article by The Los Angeles Times.
Ramen Santouka is one of his favorites. Ramen Santouka has various shops scattered throughout California, and each ramen shop is quaint but still delivers a powerfully simplistic yet defined tasting experience. Ramen Santouka is known for its delectable thin wheat-flower noodles, which are prepared in a flavorful and elegant broth that has underlying hints of soy sauce. Wong even notes that the Ramen Santouka restaurants are “hands-down the best in Southern California.” Locations include: 3760 S. Centinela Ave., Los Angeles, CA (310) 398-2113; 665 Paularino Ave., Costa Mesa, CA (714) 434-1101; 21515 S. Western Ave., Torrance, CA (310) 212-1101.
Asa Ramen is Wong’s second favorite stop for impeccably crafted ramen. Asa Ramen has only been open for a few years, but it has had a remarkably successful turnout. This may be because it is often praised for its flavorful and intense broth. There is also an environmental advantage in going to Asa Ramen, since it sources its noodles domestically. Location: 18202 S. Western Ave., Gardena, CA (310) 769-1010.
Umemura Restaurant is another California favorite, which is known for its signature shoyu-based broth and silky noodles. The noodles at Umemura are also handmade, which gives it a soft yet chewy texture. Location: 1724 W Redondo Beach Blvd, Gardena, CA 90247, (310) 217-0970.
Asaka Japanese Restaurant in Indianapolis, IN is known for its delicious sushi, homemade ramen noodles, and fresh ingredients. Asaka offers authentic Japanese food for a fairly affordable price. If you’re ever in Indianapolis, visiting this cozy, little Japanese eatery is a must! Location: 6414 E 82nd St., Indianapolis, IN 46250, (317) 576-0556.
Chuko is a warm little Japanese bar and eatery nestled away in the boroughs of Brooklyn. Chuko is known for incorporating a plethora of ingredients into their tasty ramen bowls. Chuko has become increasingly known as a hipster gathering place. Their dishes are oddly experimental in that their broths are typically uniquely colored and have inquisitive tastes. Chuko bowls score high for innovation, creativity, and novelty. Location: 552 Vanderbilt Ave., Brooklyn, NY 11238, (718)-576-6701.
What do you think of ramen? Know of any trendy local places that you think others should know about?