Food Nation

Ramen: Where to Get the Trendy Dish in Houston and What's Next

For every one person in Houston who complains that the ramen fad is over, there are ten more people who get really excited about every new ramen joint opening and every bowl they have yet to try. Like the cupcake, ramen refuses to die.

Fortunately, as Houston's ramen universe continues to expand, the offerings get better and better. Soma Sushi's chef Gabe Medina has made a point of testing new ramen recipes to keep the menu evolving, while Goro & Gun recently experimented with a crawfish ramen that was somewhere between the traditional Japanese soup and gumbo. Whatever you call it, it was mighty tasty. Newcomer Ninja Ramen is already getting positive reviews, while Kata Robata continues to impress with the spicy soy ramen, which regularly sells out.

Whatever sort of ramen you find yourself craving, chances are there's a Houston restaurant that can satisfy. It might not be quite what you'd get in Japan, but as far as comfort food goes, it's hard to beat.

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Aka Sushi House There's only one ramen dish on the menu at Aka Sushi House--tonkotsu ramen. It's as traditional as can be with a thin, salty pork bone broth, egg noodles, a fish cake, roasted pork and corn. At lunch, it comes with soup and a salad for $9. At dinner, the soup alone is $8.

Cafe Kubo's Sushi Among a sea of restaurants in Dun Huang Plaza, Kubo's stands out for longevity and variety. The menu features sushi, soups, izakaya offerings and main courses, as well as tonkotsu or shoyu ramen for lunch or dinner.

Fat Bao Fat Bao on Kirby serves $9 bowls of ramen only on Monday and Tuesday nights after 5 p.m., but the Sugar Land location has it or lunch or dinner every day of the week. There's also an ongoing "Ramen Challenge" at the Fat Bao in Sugar Land: Finish one giant bowl of ramen (equivalent to five regular bowls) in one hour with no breaks and you win a cash prize.

Goro & Gun When it first opened, Goro & Gun was touted as Houston's premier ramen destination. The other food on the menu quickly eclipsed the ramen (dem wings!), but the ramen has steadily improved. Try the lobster ramen for an unusual take on the dish. It's worth the $16 per bowl price tag.

Gyu-Kaku The international Japanese barbecue chain is known for its grilled meats, but it also offers two types of ramen: kalbi and goma negi. Kalbi ramen features a spicy beef broth with kalbi beef (Korean marinated short ribs) while goma negi makes use of a clear oxtail broth with roasted pork. Each is $8.

Jenni's Noodle House The three locations of Jenni's Noodle House around town offer five varieties of ramen--chili oil beef, ginger, chicken, pineapple and miso. The miso is the cheapest ($8 as opposed to $9) and the most traditional of the bunch.

Kaneyama Japanese Restaurant Kaneyama in Westchase doesn't do fancy fusion ramen. There's one type on the menu--soy ramen for $8.65--and if you don't want that, there's an elaborate sushi selection.

Kata Robata Chef Hori at Kata Robata makes two types of ramen, duck dumpling shoyu and spicy miso, but it's the spicy miso that draws crowds in for an early lunch so they can get a bowl before the kitchen runs out. The duck ramen is $15, while the soy is $14, and both are quite large portions.

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Kaitlin Steinberg