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I know it's been discussed before, but... Ramen?

I saw some posts on here from a couple years ago about Ramen places in Austin. Seems like there aren't any aside from something that's not quite what I'm looking for at Musashino.

That said, any new developments? Anybody found any? And while I'm on the topic of homey type Japanese dishes, if anybody knows anywhere to get Japanese curry or Yakitori, do tell!

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  1. i haven't found it yet.
    when chinatown opened, i really hoped at least one restaurant would specialize in ramen.

    from my perusing of yelp (FWIW), i had bookmarked origami in RR a while back on my quest:

    1. Sushi Zushi, a San Antonio based franchise has opened up a couple of locations in Austin, and the have a fairly substantial yakitori menu, and even have some happy hour yakitori specials. They also have japanese curry, so it might be worth checking out.

      1. Banzai, on Lamar across from Central Market has some decent ramen. No char sui or kamaboko, but it works in a pinch. They also have shichimi togarashi, which I love to put on ramen.

        Central Market
        4001 N Lamar Blvd # 100, Austin, TX

        1. No decent ramen in this town that I know of, but the East Side King at the Grackle has yakitori. ESK is co-owned by Paul Qui, executive chef of Uchiko, so it's worth a visit.

          4200 North Lamar, Austin, TX 78756

          1. Yanagi on William Cannon has Ramen on the menu. Regular and Spicy.

            3 Replies
            1. re: tokyomonamour

              Interesting... I'll look it up. I haven't heard of this place. Good? I mean, for things other than ramen. Typical sushi?

              1. re: popvulture

                i'm far from a sushi conn, but Yanagi is pretty good. really liked the Bib bim bap (sp?),

                1. re: NirvRush

                  I haven't tried their ramen, but Yanagi's sushi is decent, and it's surprisingly reasonably priced.

            2. Haven't found a restaurant in Austin that serves ramen, but I buy really great frozen ramen from Asahi Imports on Burnet. They come in packages with 2 or 3 servings and they're from Japan. They have Miso, Soy, and Tonkatsu, easy to make at home, and really very good. Being frozen is the key. I have never tried that crap called ramen that is dried noodles in a cup and I vow never to try it.

              They also sell the menma ajitsuke (pickled bamboo shoots) and other toppings that you might find on ramen.

              I've been experimenting with thinly sliced pork and ham slices to try to get the tonkatsu just right. Still needs some tweaking.

              I lived in Tokyo for a year and ramen is one of the foods I miss the most. My sodium level hates me.

              7 Replies
              1. re: blueclaw666

                Ooh good call- I'll check that out. I love Asahi. Need to go buy some natto anyway :P

                1. re: popvulture

                  Go tomorrow, Saturday. In attempts to raise support for the relief effort for the earthquake and tsunami in Japan, Asahi will be donating 5% of their sales on Saturday, Mar 19.

                2. re: blueclaw666

                  Is the ramen frozen in a broth, or do you make a broth to go with it? I had no idea this even existed...definitely need to investigate.

                  1. re: Optimista

                    The noodles are frozen and there is a sauce packet or two. The noodles are separate from the sauce. The sauce comes in a packet. I cook the noodles and use some of the noodle water for the water you add to the sauce, which creates the broth.

                    It's pretty damn yummy.

                    1. re: blueclaw666

                      Thanks for the info! I am so going to try this.

                      1. re: Optimista

                        Don't forget the S&B La-Yu chili oil with chili pepper flakes. I love my ramen spicy.

                  2. re: blueclaw666

                    I totally forgot about my favorite noodles! I used to buy this weekly when Asahi Imports was on North Loop.

                  3. Surprised nobody has mentioned before, but the go-to place for traditional Japanese food in Austin (including ramen) is Musashino, http://www.musashinosushi.com/.

                    Lunch is the best time to go; it's not crowded and the prices are reasonable. At dinner it's crowded with sushi aficionados.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: thebodytx

                      The very first post actually specifies that Musashino's doesn't fit what they are looking for :)

                      Someone brought up East Side King and the Grackle location does have a dish which is their take on instant ramen. They use noodles out of a Nong Shim Spicy Ramyun bowl, and add their housemade miso broth, kimchi, pork belly, green onions, and poached egg. Really fond of the broth as a lot of places in Texas generally don't quite get it hot enough. Those guys are doing some mighty impressive trailer food.

                      1. re: thebodytx

                        I guess I'll have to give Musashino another try. Both times I've been here before I thought it was terrible and not deserving of the hype.

                      2. Not to derail this post but I have to share a nice tip on "Japanese" food.

                        I was out at the Salt Lick in Driftwood recently and upon reading their history I noticed the wife of the founder was Japanese. Then I though about their coleslaw which is a non mayonnaise type, its more vinegar based which I love, and it has sesame seeds! Very Japanese when you think about it.

                        Anyway, I took home a pint of this slaw and then proceeded to make a "Japanese salad dressing" to put on it. I used 4 tbs rice wine vinegar, 2 tbs soy sauce, 1 tbs sugar and 8tbs vegetable oil. Mix/shake well and voila! You have a nice Japanese cabbage salad that I had so often in Japan. The dressing is good for many servings so be sure to put it in a reusable container. I put a small portion of the slaw in a bowl, drizzle some dressing over it and enjoy many times over until the slaw is gone. I'll be buying more as I'm nowhere near the end of the dressing I made.

                        Just thought I'd pass along some findings. :)

                        1. A few recent noodle-related meals. Lunch at Musashino was okay... I thought the ramen was a bit one-dimensional and the noodles overdone. Katsu curry was on the tough side. Tempura udon at Maru was a bit better. Well-flavored broth, though a bit on the sweet side. Noodles also a touch overdone for my taste. The coating on the tempura shrimp was a bit gummy. The shoyu ramen at Kome was much better and a dish I'd order again. Great texture to the noodles, a very good egg (well, half of an egg), flavorful broth. Very clean flavors, perhaps lacking the umami pop I've experienced in Japan and various EV spots in NY. Two very lean pieces of pork. Not tough but lean. Personally, I prefer a fattier meat component and a more umami-rich broth, but, like I said, I really liked it and will return soon. (The sashimi lunch dish looks esp good. FYI, a 40 minute wait for lunch on Sat.)

                          9 Replies
                            1. re: ieathereforeiam

                              I became a rameniac after visiting Tokyo several years ago. Musashino's was the best of a mediocre lot in Austin, but now I think Kome is better. I've had the shoyu and miso ramen at Kome, with the shoyu being my pick. Lately, I've heard good things about Daiichi in Cedar Park and their efforts to perfect real ramen. I'll post an update after I try them out.

                              1. re: pbeard825

                                I haven't had it yet, but chen z on anderson has ramen on the menu. I assume those noodles are made fresh as well, but I don't know that for a fact. The sign on the door says all noodles are made in house, so I have to assume it applies to ramen. Even though there was only one on the menu.

                                1. re: ieathereforeiam

                                  Unfortunately, Chen Z's ramen noodles are not made in-house. It's a good bowl of ramen, but not mind-blowing. Pleasantly spicy. I should note that I am really not a ramen expert, though (although I'd sure like to become one!).

                                2. re: pbeard825

                                  had the tonkotsu ramen at Kome a while back. I really enjoyed it, although I might not be the best judge, as I've only read about traditional Japanese ramens, but never eaten any.

                                  I hope the picture below captures all the interesting items it came with. I ground some toasted sesame seeds on top with a device the waiter gave me. Very fun!

                                  I'm looking forward to trying to the miso and shoyu, but have to find time to get out there on a weekday or lunch hours on Saturday.

                                  1. re: topodrinko

                                    that looks wonderful!

                                    serious eats' kenji alt lopez recently did a food lab post about how to get the broth that milky color, with the right flavors and textures.

                                  2. re: pbeard825

                                    Daiichi's facebook page looks like they are doing ramen on Saturday lunch. Very limited quantities but great feedback so far:


                                    1. re: blueclaw666

                                      12-15 servings, looks like they're making a big pot of stock and serving til it's gone.

                              2. We absolutely *still* need a good, authentic ramen place in Austin, the kind in NY or Bay Area (since we're not in Japan) where there is always a line out the door. I've tried the ramen at Musashino and at Kome. They're decent but not amazing. Thanks to tips on this thread, I've decided to just make my own by buying the frozen ramen from Asahi Imports. I completely agree that that's the best one can do at this juncture in Austin. And I've tried all the yakitori tips mentioned in this thread, but I still believe we need a seriously good, authentic yakitori joint here. OR MAYBE IT'S TIME FOR ANOTHER TRIP TO JAPAN! If anyone discovers anything otherwise, please update us all! - Starving...

                                4 Replies
                                1. re: AlexH1980

                                  I agree... I'd love a great spot for ramen, yakitori, curry or basically any of the great Japanese home-cooking classics. I don't think we're too far off, though...

                                  I haven't tried the takoyaki at Kome, but I did have them at the Love Balls (lame name) trailer on E.6th this weekend. Really tasty. They also had a curry dish on the menu, but it sounded really weird, not your typical version. I can't remember exactly what the details were because it was sxsw and I was, of course, impaired... sorry I can't be more useful in that respect. I will go back to that trailer though.

                                  Anyway... I think we're heading in the right direction. Let's keep our fingers crossed and we might just end up with a top-notch ramen joint (or yakitori... or curry...) sometime soon.

                                  1. re: popvulture

                                    there are rumors that Paul Qui may be working on something in this realm on the east side. that would be pretty cool.

                                    1. re: ieathereforeiam

                                      Ooh, that's awesome... I know he's opening up his own place, just didn't know it might have an Asian comfort food element to it.

                                      I'll also add that if anybody ever gets the craving for Japanese curry, you can't go wrong with getting Golden Curry, the odd, candy-bar-ish bullion bar. It's cheap, comes in a few spiciness levels, and you can find it at Central Market or any of the Asian markets around town. I've made GC countless times, and I even tried making it from scratch once. The difference really wasn't that apparent, especially considering the level of work you have to put into making it for real.

                                      The only big difference to some of y'all out there would be that GC has MSG in it... it doesn't personally bother me, but just a heads up FWIW. Can't wait for the day when I can get a good dish of it in a restaurant, though :)

                                      1. re: popvulture

                                        they have gc at my local HEB.
                                        i also think it has lard in it?

                                2. I am happy to report that Musashino has been paying attention to the upcoming ramen trend and has upped their game. They are now offering additional ramen offerings at lunch including a Kuro Ton Tonkatsu Ramen. They offer it with your choice of cha siu pork belly or with the BBQ Brisket that they serve in their other ramen. It was delicious and a much more traditional version than their other ramen that they serve with bean sprouts.

                                  The broth was really really good. Rich, milky white with a deep pork taste and a hint of ginger. Probably the best tonkatsu broth I have had, including Kome, but I need to go back to Kome to reverify. The noodles still felt slightly overcooked, and the eggs were also a little over cooked for my taste , but I suspect it was because they were buried in the broth as opposed to resting on top, like I prefer. The cha siu pork belly was awesome. Tender, with just the right amount of fat.

                                  My only complaint is that the price prevents it from being a regular lunch option, and relegates it to a "special occasion" or payday lunch. The Tonkatsu Ramen on it's own is $12.75, but the cha siu pork belly is an additional $3.00. This comes to a total of 17.05 with tax, which is just too steep for a frequent lunch option. But damn that broth is good. I can definitely see myself splurging every few weeks.

                                  Try it out if you get a chance, I would love to know what others think.

                                  ***edit*** forgot to mention that the Tonkatsu ramen also has droplets mayu (black garlic oil) added to the broth which is really good.

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: Homero

                                    Do they make the ramen themselves?

                                    The best ramen I've had is a kuro ramen in a little strip mall in Milpitas. Black garlic and fresh-made noodles, with a side of tuna sashimi over rice. $10.

                                    1. re: conquer

                                      I'm not sure if they make their own noodles. They do make their own broth. What you are talking about sounds amazing for $10. I still have a hard time getting over the fact that the Kuro Ton ramen is starting at $12.75, even though it is very good.

                                  2. Tried Michi Ramen tonight. It's a food truck at the North Austin Trailer Yard. They sell ramen, mochi, and that's about it. It was the best ramen, by far, that I've had in Austin. They only make tonkotsu ramen, and they make it well. The broth was rich and full of flavor. The noodles were very good, and the toppings were well done, if somewhat lacking (no fish cake or seaweed). After settling for ramen at sushi-ya's like Musashino and Kome, it is awesome to finally have a true ramen-ya in town. Try it out - you won't be disappointed.

                                    Next: an Austin izakaya or yakitori-ya.

                                    4 Replies
                                    1. re: pbeard825

                                      i mentioned them in the hard hat report because i saw them on facebook and was intrigued.
                                      thanks for posting about the food. good to hear it's tasty stuff. i definitely need to try it soon!

                                      1. re: pbeard825

                                        Ah, just looked at their menu. It's awesome that they use the black garlic.

                                        Curious, though... under "extra toppings" it has a marinated soft boiled egg for $1.50. Do the standard ramen dishes not include one? I've never had ramen that didn't automatically come with an egg. And no fish cake? I'm not bitching about the price, but the fact that it's charged as an extra really annoys me for some reason. Just doesn't seem right.

                                        And can I get an A-F-ing-MEN for an ATX yakitori restaurant? Hopefully Paul Qui will include something along those lines with whatever he's concocting for his brick and mortar location.

                                        1. re: pbeard825

                                          I tried the miso ramen at Kome and tonkotsu ramen at Michi Ramen. The "broth" at Michi had the texture and flavor of brown gravy. I'm pretty sure the texture of the ramen at Kome was at least as good as those at Michi. I'm curious if anyone else who has tried both Kome and Ramen Tatsu-ya concluded that Tatsu-ya serves a better bowl of noodles.

                                          1. re: budgethound

                                            I tried to eat at Michi Ramen a couple of times early this summer at the NATY, but they were sold out each time. Then, they closed!

                                            GOOD NEWS: They're setting up shop at the old Korea Garden/Afin building on N. Lamar with a November opening date.

                                            The location is easy to find, has decent parking, and air conditioning. I am very excited to taste the differences between Ramen Tatsuya and Michi. Maybe revisit Kome.

                                            The news in their own words - http://www.michiramen.com/

                                        2. Ramen has arrived, people! I haven't tried it yet, but I'm so exciiiited!!!


                                          9 Replies
                                          1. re: alloy1028

                                            I agree with most of the points, but why not SHARE ramen? Its a Buddha thing....

                                            1. re: rudeboy

                                              I can't wait, either... hopefully I'll make it up there this weekend. In the meantime, I also hope we'll get a report on here soon!

                                              1. re: popvulture

                                                I have chowhound friends who've been and given me the report in person. WISH THEY'D REPORT HERE HINT HINT.

                                                1. re: tom in austin

                                                  I went during the soft opening last week. I had the #2 with a corn on the bomb addition and it was really wonderful. Also tried the gyoza which were fine, but nothing to write home about.

                                                  The place is great looking and the staff couldn't be any nicer if they were twins. The pork belly in the ramen was out of this world, the noodles were tender and light, the broth was complex in it's subtlety and I want to go back every day.

                                                  Alas, that AC doesn't seem to be able to handle the load, so it's hot as the dickens up in that joint. I'll be a regular once the lines die down and the weather cools off.

                                                  1. re: tom in austin

                                                    It's effing great. Had the original (tonkatsu) ramen with a fire bomb and my companion had the shoyu, which I tried in spite of the "rules." Both were really delicious. Great milky, savory, rich broth. Nice thin al dente noodles. Tasty pork belly and egg on top. Just good stuff that Austin has needed. I went during the soft opening and almost no one else was there right at 5:00. Not sure how bad it is at that time now that they're fully open.

                                                    1. re: hlk

                                                      Well, there's a cold front coming tomorrow. It's going to cool down to 94 degrees....I think that I'll try it out!

                                                      1. re: rudeboy

                                                        Downright blustery out there today.

                                                  2. re: popvulture

                                                    Tried to go Tuesday night. You must stand in line to order at the counter, then find a table. After ten minutes the line hadn't moved so we left. Might be best to wait until things are running a little smoother to try. That said, a Japanese friend managed to get served at 5pm and was complimentary of the ramen.

                                                    1. re: thebodytx

                                                      Looks like the hype has died down - still a steady stream of patrons on a Tuesday evening but the flow is a lot better with regard to the seating. Totally reasonable wait times in line - even at 7 pm - took about 5-7 minutes to order and sit; we received our three bowls of ramen very quickly. So weekdays after 7pm (and definitely after 9pm) are great times to go in my experience.

                                              2. Nice review of Ramen Tatsu Ya on Research in Austin Chronicle