Want to know how to pick up an otherwise dull work week? With ramen and old-school hip hop, of course! I did just that today at Ramen-san in Chicago’s River North neighborhood.
Ramen-san is located 2 blocks south and 1.5 blocks west of the Grand ‘L’ stop, along the CTA Red Line. The #22 Clark bus will take you there as well.
This place belongs to the very successful
Lettuce Entertain You restaurant group, so I hoped it would be good. Although, with stellar ramen shops like Strings Ramen and Furious Spoon making a huge impression on Chicago (and me), I kept my expectations at a reasonable level. Here’s how my lunch went down:
I arrived at 1:30pm just after the height of lunchtime. I slid into one of Ramen-san’s wooden booths and got comfy. Before long, I was groovin’ to “No Diggity” by Blackstreet, featuring Dr. Dre 🙂
The menu here is focused on the ramen but there are a few appetizers, buns and wings from which to choose. I went for Ramen-san’s express lunch menu. For $15, you get a 1/2 bowl of the ramen of your choice, a rice plate (choose either salmon, chicken or skirt steak), a salad and marinated cucumbers. You can throw in some sides at an additional, nominal cost.
I chose this tonkotsu ramen with pork broth, chashu pork and a molten egg. I also went with the miso salmon rice plate and some kimchi (for an extra $2).
As the hip hip beats turned into some old school R&B, I dug down deep into my steaming hot bowl of noodles and pork. While Ramen-san is not making its own noodles, the noodles which are made for them by Sun Noodle are really good. These are wavy noodles which are tender yet sturdy enough to stand up to the heat of the broth and the weight of the other ingredients.
The pork belly in this ramen was one of the better attempts at it in Chicago. Often times, ramen shops undercook the pork belly or present you with a few slices containing way too much fat vs. meat which is inedible. Ramen-san’s pork belly was nicely spiced and very well roasted. I was happy 🙂
The broth was not too salty and the layers of flavor were definitely there. Ordering this 1/2 bowl was a great way to introduce me to this ramen and it was plenty filling.
I really enjoyed the miso salmon which was perfectly cooked and served over rice. Three or four bites and I was satisfied. The salad, cucumbers and kimchi rounded off my meal quite nicely.
At this point, I was heavily invested in the music being played here. If it was Friday afternoon and I was with some friends, I would have gotten my sake on! Next time 🙂
Ramen-san is located at 59 W. Hubbard St. It is open for lunch through dinner 7 days a week. Click here for more information.
In keeping with the spirit of Feeding Off The Rails, I encourage you to leave your car at home and take the CTA Red Line or #22 Clark bus to Ramen-san. Save on gas. Avoid traffic, road rage and parking. Reduce pollution. Don’t drink and drive!