Few dishes warm the soul like a simple bowl of ramen noodles. The broth, simmered for hours, brightens the senses with aromatics, served with noodles so thin they must be eaten with haste.
In Japan, ramen comes in many forms, varying by region. Tokyo serves shoyu ramen, a soy broth. Traditional miso-style ramen comes out of Sapporo, a city in the north of Hokkaido. Hakata produces a unique, milky broth by boiling the marrow and collagen out of pork bones.
There are a few worthy ramen spots, many with different specialties in the area and whether it’s shoyu, hakata, or miso you’re after, it’s here in the metroplex if you know where to look. These eight ramen shops will see you through the mild Texas winter.
Hakata style ramen is uniquely rich and cloudy, infused with aromatics such as garlic, ginger, leeks, and mushrooms. Marufuku Ramen leaves their broth to simmer for over 20 hours. A single, massive bowl is full of chashu pork—simmered pork belly—and garnished with a seasoned soft boiled egg, then sprinkled with green onions, wood ear mushrooms that add a satisfying crunch, and bean sprouts.
9292 Warren Pkwy. Ste. 370, Frisco | 469.388.1215 | marufukuramen.com
Donsanko has been called the “pioneer” of Japanese ramen, and it recently opened its first location in a food stall inside Mitsuwa Marketplace in Plano. Their specialty is a miso broth, either spicy red miso or white miso, which they have called “a bowl of happiness.” They aren’t limited to miso. Sesame tan tan ramen, a bold chicken and pork broth with ground pot, soy sauce, and a bamboo shoot, or shio butter ramen with a salt base and seafood are well worth the trip.
100 Legacy Dr. #110, Plano | 972.517.9144
Ramen Izakaya Akira
Ramen Izakaya Akira is one of those places where your chances of seeing, even being served by the chef himself are very good. This small Castle Hills shop offers light, savory Japanese Ramen with what they call “a slight Italian twist.” Their most popular offering is spicy garlic pork ramen, brimming with garlicky flavor, and topped with noodles that are made in-house. It’s a small shop so there’s a waitlist on busy nights.
2540 King Arthur Blvd. #126 Lewisville | 972.410.0294
By the same Dallas chef behind renowned restaurant Tei-An, TEN Ramen is known for its Tokyo-inspired flavors. It’s found in The Shacks, Austin Ranch. Their soy-based broth is light and pure with noodles, a soft boiled egg, and slices of grilled chasu pork. Or, if you like to walk on the wild side, order mazemen ramen, served without broth. In non-COVID-19 times, guests would stand at the counter slurping noodles, the way it’s done in Tokyo. But order it to-go and you can eat it standing up in your own home.
5800 Windhaven Pkwy., The Colony | shacksaustinranch.com
Ramen Wahta is one of a new crop of ramen shops; they opened right before the pandemic began. The broth is complex, a balancing act of bold flavors, with miso, tonkotsu, and shoyu options. Order it spicy with the sauce on the side and adjust until the bowl is exactly to your taste. It’s ramen at its purest: rich broth, firm noodles, and an egg prepared in soy sauce.
8745 Gary Burns Dr. Ste. 165, Frisco | 214.407.8118
Yatai Ramen Izakaya
Yatai Ramen Izakaya is dedicated Japanese soul food with a full sake bar. With smooth wood accents and low lighting, the atmosphere is well-suited to broths. One of their most well-loved dishes, Go! Vegan Ramen is sweet and warm with an almost floral scent and garnished simply with lightly fried tofu, mushrooms and a hint of thinly shaved green onion.
2001 Coit Rd. #140, Plano | 972.212.4674 | yatairamen.com
Ninja Ramen burst onto the scene in Arlington when ramen was still up and coming in the area. Now they’ve got a Plano location too. Guests come back again and again for bowls like their Hokkaido spicy miso ramen, a pork-based broth with straight noodles, corn, menma, green onion, ajitama and ground pork. Plus, the bravest among us can take on their Fire Challenge, a bowl made with some of the world’s hottest peppers. Finish it in one sitting, if you can.
111 W. Spring Creek Pkwy. #102, Plano | ninjaramen.us
In Richardson, Monta Ramen specializes in Kurume style tonkotsu ramen, a pork-bone broth with soy sauce imported from Japan, and thin, unrisen noodles. Of all the tonkotsu ramens—and there are many—Kurume ramen is the original. It’s got all your basic toppings, your pork chasu, your kikurage, your bamboo shoots, your green onions, but it can be augmented all kinds of ways. One variety features black garlic; another yuzu zest. Make it your own.
800 N. Coit Rd. #2550b, Richardson | 469.330.7777 | monrestaurantgroup.com/montatx