Even with the weather warming, ramen still clings to its newfound status as a Columbus comfort food. The Japanese noodle dish is becoming more and more widely available around town, with both traditional and more creative versions served to the masses. Check out these spots that show you how ramen goes far beyond the packaged stuff.
Even with the weather warming, ramen still clings to its newfound status as a Columbus comfort food. The Japanese noodle dish is becoming more and more widely available around town, with both traditional and more creative versions served to the masses. Check out these spots that show you how ramen goes far beyond the packaged stuff.Meshikou
1506 Bethel Rd., Northwest Side
Meshikou joined the restaurant scene last fall, just in time for a cold winter that required steaming bowls of noodle soup. It takes its name from a Japanese phrase meaning to invite friends to enjoy food together. Meshikou features six different bowls ranging from a spicy miso and a shio chintan with chicken broth, to a veggie miso and a karaage (fried chicken) ramen. The shoyu tonkotsu has been the real standup, blending fish cakes, pulled pork and soft boiled egg. Don't judge by its size: what Meshikou's ramen bowls lack in proportions they make up in flavor.Mashita Noodles
Mashita enjoyed a few months as a pop-up downtown, but with warmer weather returning, owners John Franke and Max Rice are taking the cart back to the streets. They've been popping up lately at the Clintonville and Bexley farmers markets, and at beer-centric locations like Staas Brewing or Hopyard 62. Although ramen is at the forefront, the cart is more Korean than Japanese overall. Its signature kimchi ramyeon blends housemade kimchi with shredded pork, egg, pickled jalapeno and scallion. Franke and Rice supplement their noodle cart with Two Daughters Food, a business fermenting and jarring homemade kimchi and selling it at farmers markets.Rishi Sushi Bar
114 N. Third St., Downtown
Rishi has so far managed to make the most of a difficult location on a one-way street downtown, but its sushi, bibimbap burger and ramen have nonetheless won fans. Its ramen bowls have names that sound like bad James Bond films: Back in the Day, There's Always Tomorrow or Live for the Moment. The lunch menu features pre-set combos based on housemade, beef, vegetable or seafood broths. The most adventurous ramen eaters can take on the Good Luck Ramen Challenge, described as a "fiery bowl of delicious" and accompanied by a small disclaimer. While lunch focuses on the set ramen bowls, dinner guests can customize their own from a variety of broths, proteins and garnishes.Edamame Sushi & Grill
3946 Morse Crossing, Easton
Edamame ensures busy Easton shoppers aren't left out of the ramen game. Its ramen is based in a creamy chicken broth that's automatically garnished with a hard-boiled egg, sprouts, mushrooms and scallions. From there you can choose one of seven different bowls, like the savory shoyu ramen, marinated pork chashu ramen or even a vegetable miso topped with fried bean curd, sweet corn and broccoli.Tensuke Express
1167 Old Henderson Rd., Northwest Side
Located inside the Tensuke Market, the Tensuke Express serves up bowls of udon or soba noodles loaded with everything from vegetables, spicy tempura shrimp, chicken teriyaki and pork cutlets. Ramen bowls are available in four flavors: shio (salt), shoyu (soy sauce), miso (soybean paste) or tonkotsu (pork). The important thing to remember - aside from the high quality sushi and ramen - is that the Express offers dine-in and carryout options.Ba Sho
2800 Festival Ln., Dublin
Ramen isn't the feature at Ba Sho, but its limited offerings are worthy of exploration. It rotates between two main types of ramen: the soy sauce-based shoyu ramen and the soy bean paste-laden miso ramen. Each one is topped with pork and vegetables. And if you're hesitant about hot soup in the warmer months, Ba Sho also offers a summer special of cold hiyashi chuka, served chilled with ham, egg and veggies.
Nicholas Dekker writes about breakfast at BreakfastWithNick.com and authored the guidebook "Breakfast With Nick: Columbus," with a second edition coming in 2015. He leads breakfast and brunch tours for Columbus Food Adventures and brewery tours for Columbus Brew Adventures.