Just spend a few moments on my Instagram feed and you’ll quickly realize that I am absolutely in love with Ramen. Now, classically, the next question I get asked after making such a claim is this: “You really like that Top Ramen stuff?” To that I say emphatically: “NO. That’s garbage.” I’m talking about authentic Japanese Ramen.
Wikipedia would describe it like this: Ramen consists of Chinese-style wheat noodles served in a tonkotsu (pork bone broth), beef, miso or fish-based broth, often flavored with soy sauce or miso, and uses toppings such as sliced pork, dried seaweed (nori), and green onions.
I would describe it as my favorite food obsession right now.
If my memory serves me well, I recall experiencing my first bowl of ramen noodles in Los Angeles a few years ago. The only thing I had to gauge my expectations to was the cheap, nasty Top Ramen that I used to eat at Bible College in my 20’s. This was so much more. More Flavor (umami). More Depth. More interesting ingredients.
Since that first encounter in Los Angeles, I have been on a Ramen Hunt. I set a Summer of 2017 goal to eat at every Ramen joint in Portland. I estimated about 20 of them in the greater Portland area, and I was able to get to about 6-7 of them (with a few repeats). I also had a goal of losing 15 pounds, and it’s entirely possible these two goals we’re at odds! I’ve since eaten Ramen in New York, various places in Southern California, the Bay Area, Hawaii, and most recently a Ramen Crawl in the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul, MN, which has a strong Ramen game going on right now.
I get asked what my go-to places are in Portland. Here’s my Ramen Report:
- Kayo’s Ramen Bar. Order the signature TanTan Ramen, and add the soft-poached egg. You’ll thank me.
- Marukin Ramen. They have a rotating daily menu, with a couple standards offered every day. You can never go wrong with the Tonkotsu Red. It’s a bit spicy, but the flavor is amazing. If you go to the Marukin off of SE Ankeny in Portland, then you’re right next to my all time favorite food in Portland: Nong’s Khao Man Gai.
- Boxer Ramen. There are a number of locations throughout Portland. If you wanna blow your mind, order the $6 side of Okonomiyaki Tots.
That’s the latest Ramen Report. More to come, I’m sure of it!