Thanks to a seemingly unstoppable food trend, ramen is no longer those disgusting packets you subsisted on in college. Iterations of the Japanese staple dish have been showing up on menus across Dallas for the past few years, especially as chefs like David Chang drove the dish to national prominence. Now there are entire restaurants in Dallas that are dedicated to crafting the city's best bowl of ramen noodles.
Whether you're looking for a straightforward ramen house or a menu with a little more variety, these 10 bowls of ramen are perfect for curing a hangover or the common cold, especially as we head into the cooler months of the year. Some of these bowls are less traditional than others, but they're all delicious.
Chef Teiichi Sakurai's One Arts Plaza hotspot Tei-An is unanimously the city's best Japanese restaurant, which means that it makes a damn fine bowl of ramen. Sakurai is known for his expertly made soba noodles, but he's no slouch at pulling ramen. The perfectly balanced tonkotsu broth gets its rich flavor and texture from slow-cooked pork bones, and a sprinkling of white pepper and chile oil are all you'll need to create what our food critic called his favorite bowl of soup in Dallas.
This ramen house is a relative newcomer to Addison, but it's been cranking out fresh and springy noodle bowls since opening in late July. There are at least 10 different iterations of the popular noodle soup on this menu, but each starts with the strong foundation of a pork broth that has simmered for hours, chashu and tare-soaked eggs. Kick yours up a notch by ordering the spicy ramen. The "special spicy sauce" is piquant enough to clear out your sinuses, maybe permanently.
Ramen isn't exactly something you would expect to see at a barbecue restaurant, but leave it to Chef Tim Love to find a way to make it work. A porky bone broth serves as a nontraditional but flavorful base for Love's house-smoked pulled pork, fresh chiles and a perfectly soft-boiled quail egg that is served in a bowl that would easily fit on top of your head with room to spare.
This Deep Ellum ramen spot, operated by Joey and Chi Le of Miss Chi Vietnamese in Preston Center, came to Dallas at the height of the city's ramen trend. They've taken some knocks from critics and diners on execution in the past, but Tanoshii is still one of the best places in Dallas for a steaming bowl of noodles. If you're not interested in something hot, try the iced ramen that the Les introduced this summer. Served with fresh veggies and hardboiled egg in a chilled broth, it's perfectly refreshing for one of those fall days when the weather hasn't realized it isn't summer here anymore.
Sushi Robata is mostly known for the raw fish that makes up its namesake, but it's pretty damn good at making a bowl of ramen noodles. There are only three versions of the soup here, including a traditional tonkatsu bowl and soy sauce-based shoyu ramen, but the flavors are far from pedestrian. You'll probably find it hard to tear yourself away from the sushi, but these noodles are certainly worth a shot.
If you can somehow make it past the buttery lobster roll or perfectly fried clams, a delicious bowl of pork ramen noodles is one of 20 Feet's most flavorful dishes. There are only a few throwbacks to the traditional bowl, but chef Mark Cassel's quirky touches, like fried pork belly, make a bowl of ramen that is both different and delicious. Be sure to try the broth before adding any sriracha or other spice -- sometimes the soup is spicier than you think it's going to be.
Kazy's may very well be Dallas' best-hidden bowl of ramen. Tucked inside a shop that is both a distributor of Japanese food and tiny sushi and noodle house, this bowl of ramen is perfect for the working man at only $6. The flavors are well-developed, but this isn't your fancypants trendy ramen. Order a few sushi rolls to share with your lunch date and a steaming bowl of noodles for one of the city's best cheap lunches.
Chef Uno Immanivong is known for giving traditional Asian dishes a little Latin flair, and ramen is no exception. The broth at Chino Chinatown is relatively traditional, but instead of being topped with thinly sliced brisket or pork belly, you'll find a tender pile of Mexican barbacoa over the springy and fresh noodles. The Latin and Japanese flavors work together nicely, especially with the rich and unctuous gochujang marrow butter that rounds out the whole dish.
When it comes to making ramen, Nova doesn't really follow the rules. The spicy broth is reminiscent of those that you'll find in other bowls across the city and the noodles are top notch, but chef Eric Spigner has added several interesting touches to his own ramen. Instead of the traditional soft-boiled egg, you'll find a perfectly poached version instead. He also substitutes plump shrimp for pork, and adds a little fresh bell pepper and cilantro for a little Mexican flair.
Old Taro Ramen (400 N. Greenville Ave., Suite 26, Richardson)
The ramen at Old Taro in Richardson is a mix of traditional flavors and experimental new versions of the centuries-old dish. You'll find the usual tonkatsu, shoyu and miso ramen on the menu, but the magic lies with the more creative iterations of the dish. In the Cream Miso Ramen, arguably not the best name for a dish of this caliber, cream-infused miso broth adds a whole new level of richness to the traditional miso flavor you're used to with a little fresh corn for some added sweetness.
Keep the Dallas Observer Free... Since we started the Dallas Observer, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Dallas, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Dallas with no paywalls.