2015 welcomed the resurgence of ramen or a “ramen-ssance,” as I like to call it. Not the pathetic, store-bought, paper cup ramen but rather, the traditional, serious ramen shops with great ingredients. Chicago was no exception and I was super excited to crawl into all of the mammoth-sized bowls around town, in an effort to find the 5 Best Chicago Ramen Shops.
- Quality of the ramen noodles
- Depth of flavor in the broth
- Freshness of ingredients
- The ramen stays hot and the noodles stay firm from the first slurp until the last gulp
Here they are in no particular order:
**Click on the restaurant names for more information and directions.
1. Furious Spoon – Chef Shin Thompson is so passionate about his ramen that he shipped his mammoth-size noodle machine over from Osaka, Japan. He is churning out hundreds of fantastic bowls of ramen a day with noodles that have excellent texture to stand up to the heat of his broth. I love the signature Furious Spoon ramen with pork.
2. Strings Ramen – Their Chinatown location is so popular that a second location in Lincoln Park was added this year. I love this little BYOB spot. They also have a gigantic noodle machine on site which makes all the difference in the texture of the noodles here. All ingredients and broth are on point.
3. Yusho – I love the Hyde Park location near University of Chicago because it is open for lunch. You can also grab a fabulous bowl of their ramen at the original Logan Square address. This veggie ramen with tofu and pickled vegetables has as much depth of flavor as any meat-based ramen I have tried in town. Well done, Yusho! I also recommend you get their tempura eggplant on the appetizer menu.
4. Ramen-san – This River North spot is serving up kick-ass ramen along side old-school Hip Hop beats. You can sing and groove in your seat while you slurp down some of the best pork ramen in Chicago. Get the bargain $15 Express Lunch which includes a 1/2 bowl of ramen (plenty filling), a rice plate of your choice (I love the miso salmon) and a couple of sides.
5. Oiistar – This Wicker Park spot is located a few blocks south of Furious Spoon, if you’re interested in a ramen-crawl (HA!) They are making their straight noodles from scratch on-site daily. The wavy noodles and the gluten-free noodles are sourced off-site locally. I highly recommend the Oiistar Spicy Umami Ramen. It comes with pork belly and ground pork but Oiistar was happy to accomodate my request for an all pork belly bowl. The tree-ear mushrooms, poached egg and veggies were terrific. The broth is layered perfectly and it brought just enough spice without making me sweat 🙂
So, there you have them. The 5 Best Chicago Ramen Shops. Happy Slurping!
In keeping with the spirit of Feeding Off The Rails, I encourage you to leave your car at home and take the CTA trains and buses to get the 5 Best Chicago Ramen Shops. Save on gas. Avoid traffic, road rage and parking. Reduce pollution. Don’t drink and drive!