Ramen is a noodle soup dish, consisting of noodles served in a meat broth, with a variety of toppings. Originating in either China or Japan, ramen has few rules, and nearly every restaurant that serves it has its own variation of ramen. There is nothing better than a really good bowl of ramen. I go into the city once a week to the office, and have started searching for good ramen near the Loop, where I work.
Here are three options, near the Loop, two in River North and one just south of the Loop.
Slurping Turtle (River North)
An almost more Scandinavian than Asian space, with lots of white furniture and minimal decoration. Sit at booths, a communal center table, or at the bar like I did. I had the Tonkotsu for comparison purposes (most of the ramen places seem to have it on their menu): simple not too salty broth, enough to cover most of the other ingredients. Thin, angel hair like noodles, super soft pork, baby bok choy a nice touch but fell flat for me, but the pickled mustard greens and braised woodear mushrooms saved it for me, wish there were more of the pickled radishes. Adding chili paste was an improvement for me, but on the whole, this is a pretty well seasoned dish. $14.
Ramen-San (River North)
Tonkotsu Ramen: strong miso taste to broth, which had a nice weight and texture to it. Simple looking soup with molten egg, green onions, Chashu pork and....nori, though I asked for it to be left out. Actually not bad. Noodles reminiscent of the dried noodles you'd buy at the grocery store, maybe a bit chewier. Pork a bit chewy with some nice fattiness to it. Overall a good bowl that would be improved with more noodles and toppings and a bit less broth (if it matched the photo on their website, it would be much better). A Lettuce Entertain You restaurant. $14.
Saucy Porka (South Loop)
Located in a small storefront, there is minimal decorating and also few seats. You either luck out, wait, or take the food to go. Simply called Pork Ramen Soup, this is markedly different than other restaurant's offerings. Toppings include jalapeño peppers, bean sprouts, fresh basil, cilantro, and green onions. Lots of pork and noodles fill the smoky broth, which is decently seasoned and a bit spicy. Unorthodox to be sure, but a tasty version nonetheless. $9.
Who have I missed? I have 3 more on the list to try.
Like 50 States Of Wine on Facebook
Follow 50 States Of Wine on Twitter
Subscribe to the 50 States Of Wine YouTube channel