Ramen remains a classic comfort food, with variations like tsukemen and hiyashi chuka taking the noodles out of the soup to give the dish a year-round appeal. Seemingly everyone has an opinion about favorite types of broth, tare (flavoring), noodles, and toppings that comprise a bowl of ramen. But while ramen restaurants (and variations) abound in the Seattle area, the following eight restaurants are consistently some of the best places to slurp these Japanese noodles. Know of a spot that should be on our radar? Send us a tip by emailing email@example.com. As usual, this list is not ranked; it’s organized geographically.Read More
Where to Get Comforting Bowls of Ramen in the Seattle Area
Tsukumen and hiyashi chuka are great warm-weather options to enjoy without breaking a sweat
1. Midnite Ramen
Operating out of a food truck you’ll find at selected local breweries, Midnite Ramen serves up a lively yatai (mobile food stall) experience. The base broth is on the light side, with tare (flavoring) added to create ramen varieties such as shoyu and miso. Particularly noteworthy is the onomichi ramen — while not as entrancingly bitter as niboshi (dried fish) broths in Japan, fish powder adds flavor while pork fatback lends lardy goodness and texture to the soup. Find the schedule on Midnite Ramen’s website.
2. Yoroshiku Japanese Restaurant
The shoyu and shio (salt) ramens at this Wallingford izakaya are both solid, but the true star of the menu is the miso ramen, with a depth of earthy flavor lent by the fermented soybean paste. The restaurant also has some of the fattiest pork of all the area’s ramen restaurants — so good it’s worth an upgrade to extra chashu. Yoroshiku also offers unusual options like a wagyu shoyu ramen and a Fisherman ramen featuring local seafood in miso broth.
3. Jinya Ramen Bar
Jinya is a Japanese restaurant that found success in Los Angeles before spreading throughout North America. The customer base at the Bellevue branch is less Japanese than Chinese, who often prefer softer noodles, so ask for a shorter cooking time if you want a firmer noodle. The menu dances around a traditional tonkotsu preparation: The tonkotsu red comes closest to traditional (though with non-traditional thick noodles), while the tonkotsu black bursts with garlicky flavor.
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4. Rondo Japanese Kitchen
This Capitol Hill izakaya serves up “Tokyo Shoyu Ramen” that’s slightly beefy with oxtail meat and oxtail broth but lightened up with fish powder and mizuna. (Don’t worry; there’s also pork chashu in the bowl.) That same oxtail broth forms the base for black garlic tantan ramen spiked with sesame and sansho (a spice similar to Sichuan peppercorns), plus Chinese pickles. Those that want to go soupless can opt for the shoyu-flavored maze-men.
5. Ramen Danbo
Ramen Danbo serves Hakata-style tonkotosu ramen, available in shio, miso, and negi-goma (scallion and toasted sesame) options. Diners can specify noodle thickness and firmness, thickness of broth, amount of lard, and amount of spicy sauce — though even a small amount of spicy sauce can dominate the flavor of the broth. If you’re feeling extra hungry, save some broth and order a portion of additional noodles, known in Japan as “kaedama.”
Ooink references chef-owner Chong Boon Ooi’s name and his signature silky pork broth, though he doesn’t call it tonkotsu. This inconspicuous spot serves some of Seattle’s best ramen, rich and wonderful from the variety of house-made tares and noodles. Shoyu is an excellent choice, while the spicy ramen (or spicy kotteri ramen) offers heat levels that get serious as you climb from one to four. Ayam goreng (Malaysian-spiced chicken) serves as a great side dish to a noodle bowl.
7. Hokkaido Ramen Santouka
After opening several outlets in Japanese supermarkets in the United States and Canada, Santouka debuted its first free-standing American restaurant in Bellevue in 2014 and later expanded to University Village. This Japanese import serves up several varieties of high-quality tonkotsu ramen, with options including shoyu, miso, and spicy miso-flavored tonkotsu. But the simple shio (salt) ramen shows off the pork broth best. It’s also the only one that comes with a pickled red plum. The noodles aren’t the true straight type, but rather slightly wavy, catching more of the broth with each slurp.
8. Arashi Ramen
Founded in Tukwila and expanded to Ballard, Arashi focuses on the tonkotsu-style ramen associated with the island of Kyushu in southern Japan. The porky broth is available in shio (salt), shoyu (soy sauce), miso, and spicy miso varieties, and black garlic is a good twist to the tonkotsu miso option. It doesn’t say on the menu, but you can (and should) customize your noodles’ firmness. Ask for firm (katamen) or extra firm (barikata) to avoid the default overcooking to slightly soft.
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