Another day in the Windy City was proving to live up to its name as my scarf began to frost from my warm breath whilst waiting for our Uber.
Today we where on our way to Ramen Takeya on W Fulton Market street, and after the Uber driver pulled out the wrong way on a one way street I wondered if we’d ever make it; finally seeing that sign appear, and stepping out of the Uber, was a great feeling.
We had arrived.
My ice cold hands thanked me for not taking a picture of the sign outside, but as we stepped through the door a small heater comforted us whilst we waited for a seat.
It was a Thursday afternoon, and Ramen Takeya was open for business.
After immediately entering the restaurant an open area of wooden tables filled the space, and sliding doors at the window where tightly shut keeping out the frigid cold day; I would love to come back in the summer when the doors are open and we can sit with a hot bowl of ramen enjoying the fresh air.
Next, I noticed their ‘alleyway’ decor towards the back of the restaurant and fell in love.
Long before I began to write about my love of food, on my travels to Japan, one of my favorite experiences was walking the streets of Tokyo finding delicious eats.
The side alley here at Ramen Takeya reminded me exactly of a bustling side alley with multiple ramen joints.
If you haven’t been to Japan then you must, but if you find yourself down one of these alleyways you’ll notice how small the ramen shops are, how tight the seating is, and how close everything feels.
There are around 10 million people living in Tokyo, so real estate is tight, and although the ramen shops may be tiny or compact, they still deliver the best of the best.
This little alleyway at Ramen Takeya had me reminiscing and longing to take another trip back to one of my favorite countries in the whole world more than ever, so much so that I hardly noticed the menu placed in front of me.
Between the appetizers, the buns, the spicy poke, the mini donburi, and the mocha ice cream, I struggled to keep my focus on the ramen and ramen alone.
I knew already that no Tonkotsu was on the list, so I chose the closest ramen to my liking that I could find, and of course it was the Tokyo classic shoyu.
With my love for Tonkotsu’s meaty pork broth slowly taking over my life, it was nice to change it up a little and throw in a curve ball.
I also noticed that the menu stated ‘egg noodles’ and immediately I got excited; wavy egg noodles in a ramen bowl are my all time favorite.
It wasn’t long before our bathtubs, sorry bowls, of ramen touched down.
The presentation was almost too beautiful to disturb, and I found myself slowly and carefully picking the egg out with my chopsticks as though I was in a room full of sleeping people I didn’t want to disturb.
The egg was simply that, a soft boiled egg as the menu stated, and within two seconds it was plummeting down to the depths of my stomach; my dreams of finding a marinated ramen egg where still to be fulfilled.
With difficulty, due to the sheer tenderness of the pork, I finally managed to work my chopsticks enough to lift a piece of the char siu pork belly to my mouth.
It was good, but it was different.
I missed the usual sear a good pork fat needs, without it I found the fat almost blubbery, but so soft that it was not difficult or chewy to eat.
I couldn’t quite get my head around how the pork had been cooked and I missed the flavors of the soy, the mirin, and the sugar and that beautiful crisp outer sear; it seemed as though the pork itself as a meat had been cooked perfectly and then added to a frying pan right before serving to heat up with spices, leaving it a little charred on the flat sides but not the outside.
In no way was the pork bad, it was just different from what I had grown to know and love, but it was very soft and melted in my mouth beautifully; the only thing missing where those potent flavors and a good sear.
I liked the amount of bamboo shoots added to the bowl, not too many and not too few, and the addition of spinach was a lot more refreshing than I originally presumed; between the scallions, spinach, and bamboo shoots, the toppings worked well together.
Up next came the broth, and I had to remind myself that a shoyu is very different to a Tonkotsu.
The mix of the chicken and pork broths made the liquid a lot lighter on the palette.
I could instantly taste the chicken broth most of all, and I liked the added saltiness the pork broth brought to the dish in order to balance the two into one- of course with the help of that famous shoyu soy sauce base that just seemed to hug the two flavors together.
It was a great lunch ramen broth that wouldn’t leave me feeling heavy and overly stuffed.
Unlike the thick Tonkotsu, the Shoyu is a lot more fluid and almost as thin as water but stacked with layers of flavor that have you wishing you could be eating it on a summers day.
I enjoyed it thoroughly; the broth was a welcomed change for the week, and as I slurped my first mouthful of egg noodles into my mouth I’m pretty sure I left the restaurant and floated to heaven.
Egg noodles, and myself, will always have a strong love affair when it comes to ramen.
Their eggy taste adds a great addition to any bowl in my personal opinion, and the mix of the flavorful broth and the egg noodle seem to be a happy marriage of love and chewy bliss.
My husband agreed with me and plowed into his noodles, also enjoying the switch up of ramen styles, and we found ourselves speechless as the sound of slurping replaced our conversation.
Heading into Ramen Takeya I wasn’t quite sure what we would find.
Although the pork and egg where not my favorites, I did like the chicken and pork broth mix, along with the egg noodles to switch it up from my usual Tonkotsu obsession.
Thank you Ramen TakeYa for inviting us into your warmth on such a cold day, and the coldest week in Chicago history for many many years, we slurped until we couldn’t slurp anymore.
(If you liked this review then don’t forget to find me on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter @ AHangryWife.)
Until next time,