Gone are the days of brightly cellophane wrapped instant ramen that cost 10 cents, littering the grocery carts of college students on a budget. Ramen’s popularity has been rising and talented chefs from all walks of life have provided their take on the classic Japanese dish. Here’s our roundup of the best ramen available in the Midwest.
unitednoodle’s Unideli | Minneapolis, MN
Housed in United Noodle, a 15,000 square foot pan-Asian grocery store in the Seward neighborhood of Minneapolis, Unideli is a creative Asian kitchen that doles out some of the best ramen in the frigid North. There is a reason that their ramen and homemade kombucha has a cult following and being featured on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives on the Food Network.
Slurping Turtle | Chicago, IL
The turtle is a sign of longevity in Japanese culture, something that chef Takashi tries to incorporate in his dishes that hark to his childhood culinary experiences back in Japan. The chiyan-pon incorporates a medley of sea faring creatures from cephalopods such as squid and octopus to shellfish like shrimp and scallops.
Johnny Noodle King | Detroit, MI
Through a heavily Japanese inspired menu, chef Les Molnar pays homage to flavors and styles from across the globe. Renditions of classic Asian staples such as a wonderful shoyu that floats with thick crusts of pork belly, have been crafted with a stronger accent on culinary creativity.
Ramen Kazama | Minneapolis, MN
Chef Matthew Kazama heads the South Minneapolis ramen house that offers a fast-casual service model along with premium noodles housed in a broth – rich and glossy with collagen, each flavor extenuated by a patient stock-making process. Pair that with Japanese libations and a loose, communal vibe fueled by Chef Kazama’s passion for rock-and-roll (his bands include the Birthday Suits and Kid Dakota), Ramen Kazama is a must stop for ramen enthusiasts.
Umami Ramen and Dumpling Bar | Madison, WI
Umami, the Japanese word for “savoriness,” is the fifth basic taste along with sweet, sour, bitter, and salty. Michael Ding, chef and owner of Umami Ramen, incorporates all these elements into his traditional ramen dishes. With fresh made noodles from RP Pasta Company, the signature tonkotsu is offered in four varieties, including vegan and vegetarian, shoyu chicken ramen, and miso chicken ramen. Enjoy Ding’s creations in a renovated 1880s blacksmith’s shop, which won an award for historic preservation from the Madison Trust for Historic Preservation.
Strings Ramen | Chicago, IL
An affordable take on Japenese comfort food nestled in the heart of Chinatown Chicago, Strings Ramen focuses solely on ramen and an appetizing oden, a Japanese winter street food. The noodles are made fresh daily with high-end ingredients and paired with authentic broth made of salt and pork bones.
Shio Ramen | Kansas City, MO
Shio Ramen, owned and operated by Chef Patrick Curtis, hinges on the notion that food does not need to be complex in order to be gourmet. Curtis believes that simple ingredients, sourced from local vendors, make for a full experience. His passion shows: Curtis visited Mr. Kaoru Fuji, a renowned noodle expert in Los Angeles, to learn at the principal Yamato Noodle School about the process of how to handcraft the perfect ramen noodles.
Meshikou | Columbus, OH
Meshikou is the combination of the Japanese phrase “meshi-ikou,” a term used when friends invite one another to enjoy good food for dinner. The broth’s acidity is elevated by kansui, a mixture of alkaline salts added to water, giving the noodles a natural springiness. Paired with a genmai cha hot tea, this ramen is a necessity when visiting Ohio.