The 4 Best Ramen Spots in Chicago
I know... four is a very specific number, and not at all your standard three blind mice, seven dwarves, or clock striking twelve. But the thing is, I love ramen more than most food (even vegan pizza) and will occasionally break veganism [gasp] to enjoy a bowl of egg noodles in some crazy umami broth. The other truth is that there are not five, or seven, or unimaginably twelve, ramen spots in Chicago that are worthy of being ranked.
It's summer and no one really wants a hot ass bowl of soup, but one of the most comforting feelings on a chilly, rainy day is sitting down to steaming noodles in a savory broth, letting it warm you from inside out.
4. Furious Spoon
We're starting with a countdown instead of the number one place. I know many are probably surprised Furious Spoon is not my favorite - as I know it is for many - but the truth is, Furious is the greasiest bowl of soup I've ever had. It might as well be called Greasy Spoon. I didn't even know soup could be greasy. Don't get me wrong, I do enjoy it when I'm hungover, but that's because it's so salty and over seasoned it makes me feel something other than a migraine.
Furious is a good intro spot to new ramen lovers. And I recommend going to the Logan Square location over Wicker Park's. The best one to try for a newbie is the Furious, and I recommend getting the furious sauce on the side (you'll thank me). This bowl gives you a taste of all the different ramens Furious Spoon offers combined into one. It's definitely got the umami burst and savory flavor you want in any bowl, but it's by far not the best place I've been to in Chicago.
3. Slurping Turtle
This is another place with the similar "chain" vibe that Furious Spoon has except it is genuinely, all around delicious, all the time. I've never once had a bad meal here, but do be prepared to pay a little extra for the quality. My personal favorite is the Shoyu Tofu Mushroom bowl, full of veggies and made with rice noodles. I'm pretty sure this ramen is vegan but do double check with your server before ordering.
Slurping Turtle also has the great option to purchase their fresh, house made noodles. They're some of the best ramen noodles I've ever tasted and love picking up a serving or two on my way home from work to make my own bowl.
If you really want to go somewhere special for ramen on a particularly rainy day, I highly recommend Oiistar. It's got dark lighting, with a wooden bar, perfect for sitting alone at. Or with a friend. Whatever you're into. Regardless of company, you get a lot of food for your money which is why I like them. Their broth is the second best I've ever tasted (hence the ranking) and everything always tastes fresh.
My personal favorite is the Oiimen ramen, with mushrooms, egg, and scallion, all the flavors blend and complement one another so you never feel overwhelmed - like how you would at Furious Spoon. They also have a nice beer and wine selection. Definitely a good place to take someone on a first date, but beware during the winter months because this place gets packed fast.
1. Kizuki Ramen & Izakaya
My boyfriend discovered this place last fall and we fell in love with it immediately. The first time I went I had a terrible cold and didn't even want to leave the house, but he insisted I would feel better after I had something to eat. After we ordered and I took my first bite, I felt my aches dissolve and sinuses clear almost instantly. The noodles are so fresh tasting with the perfect semi-al dente texture. But my above all favorite aspect of Kizuki is their portion. All other ramen places I've been to serve way too much to the point where I associate eating ramen with being completed engorged. Not here, though!
I'm not sure if I have a favorite here, because all of them are so delicious, but if you do want guidance or suggestions I highly recommend the spicy ramen or miso ramen (especially if you have a cold). As if this place couldn't get any better, on Mondays they have a happy hour until 7 where all beers are only $1 - another great date place!
Have you been to any of these spots? Are there others I haven't listed that I have to go to? Which ramen spots are your favorite?