HOME > Chowhound > Chicago Area >
Brewing beer, curing meat, or making cheese? Share your food adventure
TELL US

Japanese noodle house in Chicago?

s
seventhson Sep 27, 2011 12:08 PM

I moved to Chicago recently from the West Coast and have not yet found a great udon/ramen place in city. There are tons of Pho restaurants and tons of sushi/thai places that might have an udon dish or a ramen dish on the menu, but I am specifically looking for a place that specializes in udon and ramen. A place that has multiple ramden dishes and multuple udon dishes and even allows you to pick and choose the vegetables/meats that go in. A place that offers shio ramen, shoyu ramen, and miso ramen.

I have been to Sunshine and enjoyed it, but it is not quite what I'm searching for. If memory serves me correctly, they have 1 or 2 ramen dishes.

Please offer up suggestions as this is the perfect time of year to start trying them out in preparation of a weekly noodle fix that I'll need come Dec Jan Feb. I like near Lakeivwe/Wrigley so a restaurant in that area is preferable but not necessary. Hole in the walls preferred.

Thanks

  1. l
    lbs Sep 27, 2011 12:17 PM

    Urban Belly ?

    http://urbanbellychicago.com/

    -----
    Urbanbelly
    3053 N California Ave, Chicago, IL 60618

    2 Replies
    1. re: lbs
      s
      seventhson Sep 27, 2011 12:26 PM

      I've heard of it (good things) but have never been. I was under the impression that it was more of a fusion style then traditional. Also seems very popular and difficult to just pop into for some soup. Have you been? Can you confirm?/deny?

      1. re: seventhson
        chicgail Sep 27, 2011 01:31 PM

        It is definitely more fusion than traditional.

    2. camusman Sep 27, 2011 12:43 PM

      Sounds as if authenticity is high on your list. It may be worth your venturing out to Arlington Heights to Mitsuwa Marketplace. The food court has a ramen place in the corner that conforms well to your specs.
      http://www.mitsuwa.com/tenpo/cica/ein...

      1. d
        danimalarkey Sep 27, 2011 12:46 PM

        Bucktown's Takashi offers a special menu on Sundays that is focused on the kind of food you're looking for (lunch 11:30am - 3pm ; dinner 5pm - 9:30pm). I suspect that his new spot in River North, Slurping Turtle (opening TBA) will feature a similar menu throughout the week.

        Chef Yagihashi also put his name on one of the kiosks at Macy's Seven on State. I've had the ramen bowls a couple of times and they're not bad but I don't know if they are that good, either. Their hours are very limited, too(11am-3pm, I think, Mondays - Saturdays). But, in case you work downtown, it's a decent place for lunch (but again, I wouldn't judge Takashi by the noodle dishes at Macy's even if they have his name on them).

        Arami, in West Town, gets high marks for its sushi, but their noodle dishes are often singled out, as well. There aren't too many options, however, and they certainly qualify as one those sushi places you mentioned above.

        Urban Belly strikes me as mostly traditional. Bill Kim's other spot, Belly Shack, is the fusion place. I go to Belly Shack often (it's near my apartment) and it's rarely crowded. They also tend to have a couple of daily specials in addition their standard menu (as does Urban Belly, I'm assuming).

        -----
        Urbanbelly
        3053 N California Ave, Chicago, IL 60618

        Arami
        1829 W Chicago Ave, Chicago, IL 60622

        1 Reply
        1. re: danimalarkey
          p
          Possumlad Sep 27, 2011 01:41 PM

          I'm particularly fond of the ramen @ Arami -- in particular, I've had the "Arami Ramen." They have 2-3 other options. Sushi's the focus -- and it's some of the best sushi in the city--but the Ramen is excellent as well.

          -----
          Arami
          1829 W Chicago Ave, Chicago, IL 60622

        2. f
          ferret Sep 27, 2011 12:46 PM

          Tampopo on Lincoln, just North of Bryn Mawr. Has many ramen, soba and udon options.

          http://www.tampopochicago.com/Menu.html

          Scroll down to items 63-76.

          4 Replies
          1. re: ferret
            s
            seventhson Sep 27, 2011 01:26 PM

            That looks promising. I think I'll have to try Tampopo and Urban Belly first.

            -----
            Urbanbelly
            3053 N California Ave, Chicago, IL 60618

            1. re: seventhson
              f
              ferret Sep 27, 2011 01:28 PM

              I can't vouch for the authenticity but it seems to be a popular option (at other tables) every time I visit. And the sushi is very good.

              1. re: ferret
                s
                seventhson Oct 5, 2011 10:48 AM

                Tried Tampopo last week. We had a tanmen ramen and a chashu ramen. Neither were that flavorful and the noodles were only so so. There was another table that ordered a few of the udons and those looked MUCH better. The location is a little far from me so I'm not sure I'll be giving it a second chance. However if I do, I will definitely order udon.

                1. re: seventhson
                  f
                  ferret Oct 5, 2011 02:03 PM

                  Sorry. I'm not a big noodle person so I couldn't vouch for the quality but their sushi/maki offerings are good and a good value. And I do see people ordering their noodles a lot so I figured it would be worth a shot.

                  And if you do return I would make a point of noting your complaints with the owner, Daniel. You can't name your shop after Tampopo (the movie about the search for the perfect noodle soup recipe) without having a thick skin.

          2. twodales Sep 27, 2011 09:07 PM

            Would Renga-Tei fit the bill? I'm not really sure. It's in Skokie.

            2 Replies
            1. re: twodales
              f
              ferret Sep 28, 2011 06:08 AM

              Lincolnwood. I think they serve udon but I don't recall any ramen.

              1. re: ferret
                s
                seventhson Sep 28, 2011 08:18 AM

                Looks decent. I checked the menu and you're right, it's just udon and soba, no ramen. Still looks good though. Lincolnwood is a little far but worth a trip to at least try it out.

            2. p
              phr208 Sep 28, 2011 08:31 PM

              If you want a place in the city, the Noodles by Takashi on the 7th fl of Macy's (on State) is pretty solid. If you're willing to venture to the suburbs, then there's Santouka at the food court in Mitsuwa. Santouka is a ramen chain in Japan, so it's definitely legit. I've had a lot of authentic ramen in NYC and recently just came back from Japan, and Santouka is in my top 3 for miso ramen.

              1 Reply
              1. re: phr208
                s
                seventhson Sep 30, 2011 07:05 AM

                That's funny, I've actually been to a Mitsuwa in LA and to the Santouka in the food court. Unfortunately, the burns is off the table because I'm looking for a place close enough that it can become the go-to spot during the winter when I just need some hot soup. Good to know there's a Mitsuwa in the area though, I love that place.

              2. m
                mountsac Sep 28, 2011 09:21 PM

                You've probably heard that the Japanese community (and therefore authentic Japanese restaurants) are located in NW suburbs, around Arlington Heights and Mt. Prospect. There are quite a few places in that area that serve authentic ramen. But the Santouka in Mitsuwa is still the best so far. Ramen in the city is usually Korean-style or simply watered down (broth not enough umami or noodle not al dente). I like Ginza in River North. I've never had their ramen, but their other items are authentic. I'd try there first. But if you are a purist for Japanese-style ramen, go to the burbs.

                1. foodsage Sep 29, 2011 09:56 PM

                  Have not eaten there yet but the Tasting Table review of Chizakaya on north Lincoln Ave. sounds fabulous and just what you are looking for as far as authentic Japanese noodles is concerned. See their review:

                  http://tastingtable.com/entry_detail/...

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: foodsage
                    s
                    seventhson Sep 30, 2011 07:02 AM

                    The soups only show up on their lunch menu. I will call to see if they serve them for dinner as well.

                  2. c
                    ChicagoJoe Sep 30, 2011 05:06 PM

                    I second Urban Belly for what it is worth. I've always had consistent great food there.

                    -----
                    Urbanbelly
                    3053 N California Ave, Chicago, IL 60618

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: ChicagoJoe
                      chicgail Sep 30, 2011 05:39 PM

                      It is excellent. It's just not what the OP asked for, which was a traditional Japanese noodle house.

                    2. p
                      PopMegaphone Oct 1, 2011 03:26 PM

                      Sunshine Cafe in Andersonville isn't much to look at, but the food delivers the goods. It's very well reviewed and about half of the clientele is Japanese. The fact that they're BYOB is an added bonus. The service is really friendly too.

                      That said, I'm not sure if they offer the specific dishes/experiences you're looking for, but it is authentic Japanese homestyle cooking. Their udon and mackerel (saba shioyaki) dishes are personal favorites.

                      Show Hidden Posts