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Where is the Best Ramen in Philly?

- Hye Sung

Ramen is an essential part of my diet, especially in the winter. I’m not talking Cup Noodles or any kind of instant ramen. I’m talking about broth with deep flavor, bamboo shoots, a boiled egg, the works. Good ramen. Real ramen. For me, this is comfort food. This is the food that heals me of my ailments, from a common cold to melancholy.

And surprisingly, it is hard to find good ramen. In general. Even in a big city like Philadelphia. I’ve been disappointed by how many times I’ve had ramen and it turned out to be instant ramen, Shin specifically, decorated with some fresh ingredients. Often times, they add too much water, too, drowning out any flavor. But good ramen exists, and it even exists here in Philadelphia.

Here are my favorite, vouch-worthy ramen shops in Philadelphia:

Nom Nom Ramen
www.nomnomramen.com

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Specializing in Hakata ramen, which has a rich, milky, pork-boner broth and thin, non-curly noodles. The broth is absolutely delicious, taking over 24 hours to make.

Shio ramen, Nom Nom’s original ramen, is very comforting and delicious and a noted crowd-pleaser. It’s the People’s favorite. I’d argue, though, that Miso ramen is just as comforting and even more delicious, but that’s just my humble opinion.

There’s something very healing about the Miso flavor for me. I often had a bowl of miso soup for breakfast growing up, especially when the weather was cold. It prepared me to trek through the snow to get to school. I’d often put some hard, leftover rice in the bowl for some substance.

So I’ll get this out of the way: I will almost always prefer Miso ramen over all the other flavors if it is offered, especially if there’s a spicy miso offered. To me, this is the pinnacle of culinary genius.

So I have to first recommend their Karai Miso (spicy Miso) bowl, which has Nom Nom’s signature black garlic sauce drizzled in. It’s recommended by both Nom Nom and myself to add a soft boiled egg. Because… why wouldn’t you?

Chinese-style pork buns are also an option, and a very good one at that. Spicy-lovers and those addicted to heat will appreciate the spicy sauce on the buns.

Locations:

20 S 18th St
Philadelphia, PA 19103

3401 Walnut St
Philadelphia, PA 19104

 

Cheu Noodle Bar
www.cheunoodlebar.com

screen-shot-2016-12-26-at-11-40-12-amAesthetically, Cheu Noodle Bar does everything right. A bit smaller, true to the style of Japanese ramen shops, but with fun, poppy decor that isn’t overwhelming or distracting. It may difficult to come here with a bigger group, especially in their busier hours, because of its size, but its always worth the trip.

Cheu does ramen well, really well, even, but their small plates are just as good, with black garlic wings and sweet & sour (kimchi-flavored) brussel sprouts reigning supreme. The portion of brussel sprouts served is quite big and totally worth the $8.

Their happy hour deals for food are pretty great, too. Beef dumplings, squash ragoon, wings, or beet and feta salad? For $5? Brilliant.

Among their ramens, I have to say their Miso Ramen is my favorite, of course, with pork shoulder, egg, black garlic, and mushrooms. I like to add an extra soy-marinated egg and kimchi, and sometimes if I have enough broth, I’ll ask for extra noodles for only $2.

This place may not be the most “authentic” ramen place, and never do they claim that this is the case. Cheu’s spin on the ramen shop is unpretentious, relatively simple,  even with its decor and aesthetic, and fun. Cheu truly has a unique role among Philly’s ramen joints.

Location:

255 S 10th St.
Philadelphia, PA 19107

Ramen Bar
www.ramenbarphilly.com

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With two locations in University, nearby both Drexel and University of Pennsylvania, Ramen Bar is perhaps the most well-known ramen place in Philadelphia. With a very full menu, lots of ramen topping options, and two roomy locations with plenty of seating, this is where I most often go for my ramen-fix.

Their miso ramen (which can also be spicy) has “wavy noodles”  and “marinated chashu pork, menma, red pickled ginger, naruto, corn, butter, sesame and scallions.” Butter in ramen? Just a little bit, and it’s actually a transformative ingredient, making the bowl richer and deeper in flavor, highlighting the glory of its Umami. As a topping, I recommend including what I believe is Philly’s best marinated egg; a perfect add-on for this basically-perfect ramen.

They have a lot of appetizers, some better than others. I cannot recommend the Agedashi Tofu, which is a bit heavy on the fish flakes, tasting and feeling a little too reminiscent of fish food. I can vouch for the Tori Kara-age, though, a “juicy Japanese-style fried chicken thigh.” Who doesn’t love good fried chicken?

At Ramen Bar, you can also purchase a Ramune soda. This soda tastes similar Sprite, though there are plenty of different flavors. The fun of the Ramune soda is the bottle, which is why it is sometimes referred to as “marble soda”. It has a codd-neck, with a marble sealing in the carbonation. How do you open it? Just watch:

Locations: 

4040 Locust St.
Philadelphia, PA 19104

3438-3448 Lancaster Ave.
Philadelphia, PA 19104

Terakawa
terakawaramenphilly.com

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Hands down the best ramen in Philadelphia. Located in China Town, with another location in New York City, Terakawa is Philly’s most authentic ramen shop.

They don’t give into the trend among Japanese restaurants to serve sushi as well, focusing in on Japanese comfort foods like ramen, curry platters, and donburi.

The only dessert offered just so happens to be one of my favorite things: Mochi Ice Cream. There’s a variety of flavors offered, but I tend to stick to Red Bean and Green Tea flavored Mochi Ice Cream. The other ice cream flavors are just as delicious, but strawberry, vanilla, etc., don’t exactly complement the rich flavors of ramen. Again, this is my very humble opinion.

The Mayu Ramen is exceptional. The broth, a Natural Heritage Berkshire Pork bone soup, is everything needed in the winter. Salty, layered in flavor by two days of boiling, the Mayu oil (dark roasted leek with crushed garlic oil) is the perfect touch to this broth, drawing out its savor for all that it is.

Though I love their Miso ramen, and endorse it for all that it is, their bowl of Mayu is always deeply satisfying and is pretty universally seen as their best ramen.

This hole-in-the-wall is one of the best things about Chinatown. Affordable, authentic, and really delicious.

Location:

204 N 9th St.
Philadelphia, PA 19107

 

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