The ever-so-popular Japanese noodle soup, ramen, has taken North America by storm with its textured, fresh noodles and delicious variety of rich broths. Ahhhh ramen.
One of us has actually lost sleep at night thinking about it. Like, rolling in the covers… counting sheep won’t work… legit loss of sleep.
Before you judge, we dare you to watch the first episode of “The Mind of a Chef” and not head to the closest ramen house within the next 24 hrs. Seriously, try it!
These aren’t the dry Mr. Noodles that your mom packed in your lunch when she was in a jam. You remember the ones. Think Justin Timberlake’s hair, circa N’Sync. Not appetizing (and we love JT).
We have heard on numerous occasions that ramen is “the next burger.” And we get it. This one dish combines the comfort of soup, the indulgence of noodles, and the tenderness of meat.
Here are two places that are currently crushing the ramen scene.
Kinton Ramen: Making it Easy
If you’ve read our stuff before, you know that we love simplicity. It’s basically our only rule. The easier you make the dining and drinking experience for your patrons, the better it will be for them.
Kinton Ramen in Toronto nails the “keep it simple” philosophy perfectly.
Most of us can relate to the experience of trying a new type of cuisine for the first time. Sometimes it can feel like “Where’s Waldo” when you’re looking at a menu. In this scenario, folks often search for a dish (or word!) that they recognize. Think: butter chicken, pad thai or spaghetti. If patrons are there trying something new or are ordering something outside of the box, we love it when restaurants give them confidence by making the menu easy to read.
The menu at Kinton Ramen is literally a “step by step” guide to building your own custom dish. It’s so simple. Step one: choose your broth. Step two: choose your flavour. Step three: choose your soup type (light, regular or rich). Step four: choose your noodle type. Step five: choose your meat type. So. Easy.
Kinton also makes the ramen dining experience simple. The music is loud, the cooks are often yelling orders in unison, and there is an atmosphere of efficiency. It’s easy-going and patrons are ushered in-and-out of the joint in a non-rushed way.
And of course, the best part is that their ramen is delicious.
Jack's Sliders and Sushi: Mixing it Up
Another fav ramen joint for us is Jack’s Sliders and Sushi in NYC. This place is not your average noodle house. The concept shouts NYC meets Tokyo.
One of the coolest things about Jack’s is that they folded an American trend (sliders) into a Japanese trend (ramen). Think burger joint meats noodle bar. And we love it.
They have all of the classic ramen options including grilled, slow-cooked pork belly and miso soup bases. But they’ve also spiced up their ramen options by including something we haven’t seen before – a vegetarian ramen which is centered on vegetable tempura. Their menu also boasts a flavorful Ginger Scallion Chicken Ramen which builds on the traditional foundation of bean sprouts, fresh noodles, chicken broth and a marinated egg.
At the same table, your buddy (or yourself - who says you can’t have both?) can order tasty sliders ranging from bacon-wrapped beef burgers to grilled salmon with avocado sliders. What a whirlwind!
Since they focus on a couple of dishes that they do really, really well, it somehow works! No offence to their sliders, though. We are all about their ramen.
Wherever you are on the ramen spectrum – from beginner to connoisseur – we highly recommend you checking out the hype. It’s a food trend that is definitely here to stay.
Soup’s on, ramen-lovers!
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