Our time in Chicago has almost come to an end, and with 4 ramen shops under our belt we feel as though we made a good dent on the scene as a whole.
Through the week we found ourselves in a record breaking polar vortex that was truly the coldest I’ve ever been in my whole life, but even that did not stop us from getting our hands on the miracle elixir that is ramen.
Ramen itself was said to originate in China and made its way into Japan around 1859, but since then it has become a staple across the whole world with great restaurants popping up in every city leaving patrons full and happy.
This week in Chicago we visited Strings Ramen, Ramen-San, Ramen Takeya and High Five Ramen.
I would like to list the restaurants that mastered ingredients the best and why here in this article.
This one is a double whammy with two restaurants taking the top; they where both so good that we couldn’t decide on a clear winner.
– Strings Ramen definitely won the Tonkotsu broth for both myself and my husband – it was full of flavor and had a great thickness to it that really made it line your entire mouth with velvety porky goodness. You can tell just by the deep creamy color how dense and flavorful it truly is.
– High Five Ramen also stole our top broth prize with both flavor and thickness. You’ll notice in the picture below that the broth is literally leaving a residue around the bowl as it decreases with each slurp. There’s so much flavor and spice packed into it, and black garlic oil, that it truly became a marriage made in heaven that I’d happily drink every single day for the rest of my life.
Ramen San was the winner of our Chashu pork category. It was thick, succulent, and bursting with flavor. Each piece of pork was so soft and juicy that it literally oozed goodness with every bite. The sear and marinade on the Chashu was perfect, and I would always advise you to get extra pork for your ramen for double the fun.
High five ramen was a clear win for the ramen egg in my eyes. Most of the ramen I had in Chicago was accompanied with just a boiled egg, which is fine but definitely no fun. High five ramen was the only shop where I could really taste a marinade, even though it didn’t have any marinated color, and the yolk pop after shoving the whole egg into my mouth was glorious. When I marinate my own eggs at home I use a mixture of soy sauce, sesame oil, garlic, mirin, sake, black pepper, and dashi which I let marinate for almost 2 whole days. I would have loved to have found a ramen egg like that, but High Five Ramen served the best ramen egg of all the ramen we had in Chicago.
Ramen Takeya was my favorite for noodles, mainly because I absolutely adore egg noodles being used in a ramen. Their eggy taste and thickness seems to go so well with all ramens, and it definitely soaks up the flavors of the dish into its stringy depths. I thoroughly enjoyed their noodle although High Five was a close second.
In their own way each restaurant had a particular part of the dish that outshone the rest.
We didn’t end up finding a specific ‘ramen heaven’ in Chicago, but during all the ramen visits we definitely found heaven.
It would be great to put all of our favorite parts of each restaurant into one dish, and see how it fairs as a whole, but overall our experiences where enjoyable and we’d happily go back.
Our week in Chicago was made so much better with the existence of these 4 shops, and I’d like to say in the end that Strings ramen and Ramen San would be our locals in the area for a slamming Tonkotsu that you could access quickly and have a guarantee for a delicious meal.
High Five ramen I would recommend for people on special occasions, or for a nice dinner out when you’re not in a rush and can stand the 3 hour wait without it getting in the way of anything else. It’s not a place to grab a quick bowl of ramen, or a spontaneous after work visit, it’s more of a plan ahead kind of place and if you do have the time and patience to wait it’s definitely a guarantee of a magical Tonkotsu.
Ramen Takeya is definitely one for a hot summers day when a Tonkotsu is maybe too thick and heavy in the heat.
Once again my husband and I are shown just why ramen is one of the most loved dishes in the world and why we will risk -40 temperatures just to get our hands on it.
Overall Tonkotsu is definitely our favorite choice when we go the ramen route, and I thank the ramen gods every time for creating such a delicious feast that we’re lucky to have worldwide.
If you’ve never been to Japan I’d recommend booking a flight, because you have to try ramen in Japan at least once in your life to really appreciate the rest of the ramen around the world and the sheer dedication and passion that goes into every dish.
Our love for ramen lives on, and I can’t tell you how happy this week has been in Chicago celebrating restaurant week with our favorite food of choice; some restaurants we visited twice, others only one, but all of them hold a special place in our hearts.
Until next time,
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