Although it’s been around since the early 1900s, Ramen is having a big moment in Atlanta this year (2016). All over town, ramen restaurants are springing up offering oodles of noodles in big, steaming bowls. With this cooler weather, could the timing be any better? Atlanta’s love affair with ramen runs deep, from pop ups around town (including Empire State South and Miller Union) to an annual ramen festival that benefits The Giving Kitchen.
If you haven’t slurped a bowl yet, at its simplest, ramen is a Japanese broth-based soup (often made from pork or fish) with noodles, meat and/or vegetables that’s typically spiked with soy sauce or miso. Ramen is basically a hug in a soup bowl and can be especially comforting on cold or rainy days.
Keep reading to find out where you can slurp on the best ramen in Atlanta!
Jinya Ramen Bar
Straight out of California, the first Georgia outpost of this international chain opened in Sandy Springs in 2016. Jinya takes pride in their broth, cooking it for over 10 hours with meat, bones, and vegetables. The payoff is an exceptionally thick broth. Garlic fiends (or vampire phobes) will love the Cha Cha Cha ramen bowl: a pork broth packed with pork, egg, chopped onion, green onion, thick noodles and of course – plenty of garlic. If you’re still hungry, they offer a small selection of Japenese-style tapas including buns and caramelized cauliflower. Note: this joint is extremely popular so expect to wait.
Unassumingly situated on 14th street next to Better Half, Wagaya is the Westside’s go-to spot for ramen. Wagaya means “our home” in Japanese and the eatery has a cozy, homey vibe to reflect that. Here they offer three types of tonkatsu ramen: classic white, spicy red, and black sesame. Whichever bowl you choose you have to throw an egg on it. If ramen isn’t enough for you they also have a nice selection of fresh sushi – get the Devil’s Breath roll packed with Spicy tuna, cucumber, jalapeño and topped with seared tuna and spicy aioli (they also torch it your table).
After being delayed for over a year, the long awaited Ton Ton opened up in Ponce City Market in June 2016. Guy Wong’s baby (you may recognize him from Miso Izakaya and Le Fat), Ton Ton has a traditional ramen stall vibe with most of the seating along its low counter. You won’t find endless ramen options here, the menu is simple and straightforward with four ramen options. Don’t worry though, each one is super delicious – but we especially like the hakata tonkotsu classic with pork belly, wood-ear mushrooms, butter garlic corn and of course, a soft boiled egg. Note: this ramen is particularly sweet, so spice lovers will want to add a chile bomb to their bowl. On the side you can spring for gyoza, seaweed salad, and curry rice.
The ITP younger sibling of Shoya Izakaya, this casual spot offers ramen and small plates. Go for a soothing bowl of miso tan tan ramen. The broth is laden with miso’s earthy flavor, and the pieces of ground pork (tan tan) are enmeshed with the noodles. There’s also bamboo shoots, boiled egg and scallion to keep the taste buds interested. Lay off of the carbs for a bit with the kushiyaki meat skewers. There’s chicken, scallops and peppers…and there’s also chicken gizzard and heart – on a stick. Talk about authentic!
Surprised to see an Italian spot in a ramen roundup? Don’t be. BoccaLupo is known for their incredibly fresh, delicious pasta – a key component of any great ramen. Though it’s not traditional, chef Bruce Logue offers a Southern take on the dish, which is brimming with collard greens, pork broth, egg and squid ink noodles, all topped with boiled peanuts. You’ll forget all about tradition after that first magical slurp.
Formerly known as Makan, the swanky Decatur spot used to offer Asian-fusion tapas but has reinvented itself as Taiyo Ramen. With everyone so slurp crazy can you blame them? Their ramen bowls are fairly classic, but what makes them special is the emphasis on using local produce, meats, and products. The chicken shio bowl is a tasty combination of chicken broth, chicken, vegetables, egg and pecans – and it uses locally crafted Beautiful Briny Sea Salt. They also have a duck ramen bowl which isn’t seen at most of the other places. This bowl has a chicken broth base, and is loaded with seared duck breast, XO sauce, and white pepper. Don’t forget a “flavor bomb” to add an extra little something something to your bowl, options include miso garlic, fresh herbs, and spice.