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Diving into a bowl of Japanese ramen is one of life’s great pleasures. Not only does every slurp please the taste buds, but it’s so wholesomely satisfying that you can’t help but feel you’re doing something good for yourself by devouring it. Even in a city where winters are mild and the mercury can linger in the triple digits for days at a time, piping-hot ramen is immensely popular. Everyone, it seems, has his or her favorite rendition—spicy, vegetarian, with or without egg—and purveyor: Shoki, Hokkaido, Ryu Jin. While the noodles get top billing, it’s the broth—complex concoctions that can take hours or sometimes days to prepare—that deserves the real credit for ramen’s popularity. (It doesn’t hurt that you can get your fill of the good stuff for around 10 bucks.) The toppings, meanwhile, are where ramen gets creative; every spoonful tastes a little different, every carefully arranged bowl a work of edible art.
KURO TONKOTSU (BLACK GARLIC PORK RAMEN)
This slow-cooked porkbased broth is garnished with thin slices of barbecue pork, steamed cabbage, black mushrooms, red ginger, green onion, a seasoned egg and—the finishing touch—black garlic oil.
Ryu Jin Ramen House: 1831 S St.; ryujinramen.com
BLACK SESAME TAN TAN MEN
Sesame oil and ground sesame seeds are added to a soy sauce-based broth, which is topped with bean sprouts, bamboo shoots, spinach, chili oil, seaweed and seasoned minced beef.
Shoki Ramen House: 2675 24th St. and 1201 R St.; shokiramenhouse.com