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I love ramen!

This instant lunch and college life staple originated in China and later on was adopted in Japan. This dish is suppose to consist of Chinese-styled wheat noodles soaked in either a fish or meat based broth. It is often garnished with vegetables such as bean sprout, green onions and often eggs. My favorite is egg with a runny yolk. Most of the ramen you get now are served with the Japanese style instead of the traditional Chinese noodle style. This popular dish however is often remembered in an instant noodle form, which was invented by Momofuku Ando. There are so many brands of instant ramen out there. All of it has the basic ingredients: dried noodles, powder seasoning, dried vegetables, and soup base. Instant ramen has made our lives much easier. For those of us who can’t cook very well all you really need to cook a delicious bowl of ramen is boiling water. If you want to be a little more fancy, you can also add your favorite vegetables and/or meats inside.

Of course in Ann Arbor, there it’s a lack of places serving this delicious dish. You might wonder why in the world would I spend money going out to eat ramen when I can buy them for less than two dollars a pack. Well, depending on where you get this dish, the product you get is not quite the same as what you can cook at home. Ramen is served in several places round town, however two place stands out to me with their taste and style: Sushi.com and Tomukun.

ATMOSPHERE

Sushi.com, which changed management since 2008, has been serving Japanese cuisine for many years. Located on N. University, it is easy to find. The space is quite unique in that the seating area is divided into two areas separated by a hall. One section you can see and sit by the sushi bar and converse with the chefs. The other half has more seating area for larger groups. The place is normally dimly lit and gives you a small homey feel.

Tomukun, opened last year, is a noodle bar, specialized in serving Japanese noodle dishes. The inside seats about 20 – 30 people. The space is mainly taken up by a row of seating. Since it is new, the atmosphere is modern and clean.

SELECTION

Since Sushi.com is a Japanese restaurant, it serves everything ranging from sushi to udon, to don, to rice dishes, and of course ramen. In terms of ramen, there is only three kinds of ramen served: regular ramen (Noodles,spicy sauce, egg, green onion, vegetable), beef ramen (Noodles,beef, spicy sauce, egg, green onion, vegetable), and seafood ramen (Noodles,scallop, clam, shrimp, calamari,vegetables).

Tomukun’s menu is heavily on Japanese styled noodles with half the menu made up of pho (rice noodles), ramen, and udon. There are of course some famous Japanese dishes such as Tako Yaki and curry rice.

TASTE

At sushi.com the most popular form of ramen I order is their beef ramen.

The noodles served in the ramen is the kind you find in instant noodle. It is cooked to just the right consistency, not very soft and still has a bite to the noodles. The beef in the noodle is quite tasty. It is not over cooked and has a kick of spice to it. The broth is overly spicy, which is good for people like me who can’t really handle spicy food, but if you are looking for that extra kick of spicy, this is probably not the dish for you. Every time I eat this ramen dish, it gives me the taste of home cooked ramen. It is quite a delicious treat.

At Tomukun, I have tried quite a few of their ramen: Tomukun Ramen, Duck Ramen and Beef Kara Ramen.

Top: Beef Kara Ramen
Bottom: My friend’s Chicken Kara Ramen

All of the ramen at Tomukun is served with authentic fresh ramen noodles, instead of instant ramen noodles. Fresh ramen noodles are made from four basic ingredients: wheat flour, salt, water, and kansui. Sometimes egg is also used, which is why many of the noodles appear light yellow in color. Fresh ramen noodles usually taste quite different from instant noodles. They have a stronger flour taste, which some people may be be used to. Here the noodles are cooked “al dente”, which has a nice firm bite. The broth is refreshing and savory. Beef kara is basically beef with a crispy breaded outside. There isn’t a lot of vegetables in the kara ramen dishes, but depending on the type of ramen you order, you can get bamboo shoots and various green vegetables.

WHO REIGNS SUPREME?

Tomukun!

Some people may not like the stronger noodle flour taste or not be use to the style of the noodles; however I feel that Tomukun offers a unique taste to ramen that you can’t find else where in the town. I like the authentic style and taste. The large portion size will definitely satisfy any appetite! If you ever feel up for an adventure, give Tomukun a try!

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