One of the perks of living in or visiting the Pacific Northwest is the mishmash of cultures from around the world, but especially around the Ring of Fire—one of those being Japanese culture, which has made it into the local fabric via cherry blossoms in key spots around town, foods that have become almost more Seattle than Japanese (like teriyaki), as well as authentic Japanese food. Ramen is one of the latter and Seattle has some truly delicious ramen restaurants ready to transport you to the Land of the Rising Sun with just a few noodle slurps.
Kizuki Ramen aims to serve the freshest and most authentic ramen you can find without flying to Japan. To this end, the chefs employ a number of unique cooking techniques to get the flavors to pop, including roasting bones before boiling to get the richest broth possible, and sourcing ingredients straight from Japan when they can’t find authentic ingredients in the U.S. The menu features a variety of ramen styles, including shoyu and shio, chicken and pork varieties, as well as side dishes and small plates (izakaya) like chicken karage, gyoza (the most perfect complement to ramen), and potato croquette.
Don’t expect a long list of appetizers at Ooink. There are a couple, but mostly it’s all ramen, all the time. You might have guessed from the name, but pigs have a lot to do with ramen at Ooink. The broth starts with pork bones, as ramen broth traditionally does, but Ooink does have vegetarian broth as well, made from kombu, shiitake mushrooms, and dried dates. While all their soups feature creamy, incredibly flavorful broth, don’t miss their spicy ramen—spicy shoyu ramen, spicy kotteri ramen, and spicy mapo tofu ramen. They will knock your socks off with flavor and spice!
Hoping to break the idea that Japanese food is mostly sushi and teriyaki, Yoroshiki founder Keisuke Kobayashi and his friend and culinary expert Koichi Hamma set out to serve traditional, yet modern izakaya-style food. The restaurant, of course—it’s on this list, isn’t it?—serves up a mean bowl of ramen. Ramen flavors include Fisherman Ramen with delicious local seafood in a miso broth; Wagyu Ramen with wagyu beef in a shoyu broth; and even vegan ramen with yam noodles.
Like entering into the world of beer or wine or any fine food, when you start down the path to trying more and more types of ramen, you learn just how many variations there are. Ramen Danbo started as a single shop in Chikushino, Japan, in 2000. Since then, that single shop has become a chain in Japan and now has locations in Vancouver, as well as Seattle and New York. The restaurant serves up unique and authentic tonkotsu ramen made in the Kyushu Hakata style, with pork bones boiled at extremely high heat combined with imported ramen-dare soup base to create the broth. You can completely customize your bowl of ramen to include either thin or thick noodles, noodle firmness, the thickness of the broth, the amount of richness the soup has, as well as the amount of spicy umami sauce added. Customize your ramen toppings, too!
The broth at Betsutenjin is so creamy you might think it has some dairy product in it, but it doesn’t. It really doesn’t. This broth is straight-up Hakata-style pork broth. You’ll feel like you’re in a ramen shop in the middle of Japan as soon as you step inside, and like most Japanese ramen shops, you also won’t find an extensive menu with tons of appetizers and options. Choose from a few ramen options and trust you won’t be disappointed. Don’t miss the lobster salad appetizer, either.
Santouka started in Japan and then expanded, and to this day, its soups are made by hand and from scratch in each shop. Santouka specializes in creamy, light tonkotsu broth that comes in shoyu, shio, and miso varieties, and you can also get vegetarian ramen. Customize your bowl by choosing your toppings from the usual toppings like a soft boiled egg, pork cha-syu, or bamboo, nori, and mushrooms. Or try something a little different and give a traditional Hokkaido topping of sweet corn with butter a try. Stand out appetizers include takoyaki, fried octopus balls topped with takoyaki sauce, which is a treat if you’ve never had it.