Although South Florida isn't the first place that comes to mind when you think the Japanese noodle soup, there are now quite a few places that connoisseurs of the popular comfort food dish are frequenting for the rich, bone-fat broth and long,
Across the country, especially in cities like Los Angeles and New York, ramen has been elevated to cult status, critics parsing the pros and cons of authentic Japanese soup and its many New Age takes. But here in Florida — from Palm Beach Gardens south to Hollywood — only a handful of restaurants is offering truly exceptional ramen.
From the traditional
10. Kevin's Sushi & Thai
706 S. Federal Highway, Deerfield Beach. Call 954-418-6218, or visit kevinssushithai.com.
Kevin’s Sushi & Thai in Deerfield Beach has taken up residence in a small storefront tucked into yet another aging South Florida strip mall. Flanked by a nail salon and a tattoo parlor, only a small sign above the door lets you know you’ve arrived. But don't let appearances deceive you. The regulars have done a good job of keeping quiet about this sleeper sushi spot. They don’t want you taking their seat at the sushi bar, ordering all the uni, or drinking up the last of the house pineapple-infused sake before they get there. Although it's best known for its super-sized sushi rolls, chef-owner Kevin Ongtua also makes a mean soy or
9. Ebisu Japanese Restaurant
7100 Fairway Drive, Palm Beach Gardens. Call 561-622-4495, or visit
Ebisu (named for the Japanese god of wealth and fortune) has been serving up fresh seafood for more than two decades where executive chef Hiro Yamamoto combines traditional Japanese specialties with the local catches of the day, which are listed daily on a blackboard. At this Palm Beach Gardens restaurant, guests can watch the chefs as they prepare nigiri and maki into beautiful rolls, which pair perfectly with the house plum sake. But it's the tasty soba and udon noodle soups that draw us here, each made in-house and just as fresh as the rest of the menu.
8. Cha-Cha Japanese Cafe
155 S State Road 7, Royal Palm Beach. Call 561-557-2107.
It's easy to miss Cha-Cha Japanese Cafe in Royal Palm Beach, a tiny Asian restaurant located in a shopping plaza off State Road 7 where you'll also find stores selling cell phones, mattresses, and furniture. Once inside, however, you'll find a menu that features a number of steaming bowls of Japanese noodles, from
7. Fresh Element
711 Village Blvd., West Palm Beach. Call 561-683-1028, or visit gofreshelement.com.
Two-month-old Fresh Element is located in the Village Shopping Center in West Palm Beach. Billed as a fast-casual — and healthy — Asian eatery, this kitchen is mainly run by the former owner of Sweet Ginger Asian Bistro. After more than 40 years in the business her plan was to retire; instead, she sold off the business and took a two-year break before joining her current business partner to create some of the best grab-and-go Japanese and Asian cuisine in the area. The ramen is particularly good, a thick and flavorful tonkatsu broth that's made in-house (also available with your choice of miso, soy, or clear broth). Then add your meat: there's thick slabs of tender roast pork, plump shrimp, or white meat chicken.
6. Mikan Japanese Restaurant
12502 Pines Blvd., Pembroke Pines. Call 954-471-2719, or visit mikansushi.com.
After 17 years running a business in the heart of Miami, last year Seiji Ikemizu moved his Mikan Japanese Restaurant (named for the honey tangerine) to Pembroke Pines. And we're thankful he did. Originally from Tokunoshima, a small island in southern Japan, Ikemizu's cooking is authentic, and certainly some of the best around. Word is that he works with a local Japanese supplier to order his fish, so checking the daily specials is always a good idea. But it's the soup we're talking about here, several styles and takes including a curry, vegetable, or nabeyaki udon — big fat noodles bobbing in a flavorful broth. The ramen comes a number of ways, as well, from traditional tonkotsu and miso to our personal favorite, the kimchi ramen (pictured here) a spicy, orange-hued broth that's packed full of slow-roasted pork and homemade kimchi.
5. Kapow! Noodle Bar
431 Plaza Real, Boca Raton. Call 561-347-7322, or visit kapownoodlebar.com.
This well-known Boca Raton Asian gastropub
4. Temple Street Eatery
416 North Federal Highway, Fort Lauderdale. Call 754-701-0976, or visit templestreeteatery.com.
At Temple Street Eatery in Fort Lauderdale the ramen is one of several homemade soups the restaurant serves alongside its Asian fusion cuisine combining the best dishes from China, Korea, Japan, and Vietnam. The miso ramen broth is made from scratch. Pork bones along with pork feet (for extra gelatin) are roasted with ginger, scallion, and onions — then simmered for 10 hours every day. Likewise, the succulent strips of pork belly bobbing in all that flavorful broth is braised for eight hours, yielding a soft, rich center that is seared for extra flavor before going into your bowl. Of course, a bowl of ramen wouldn't be complete with a slow-poached egg, its center rendered soft and creamy, and dusted with house seasoning.
3. BC Cafe
4801 S. University Drive, Davie. Call 954-801-4123, or visit bctacos.com/bccafe.
The food truck turned brick and mortar BC Cafe is best known for its gourmet tacos. But the one thing everyone is missing at two-year-old BC Cafe is ramen night (it only happens on Friday nights from 5 to 10 p.m.) when executive chef Matt Webb whips up a few signature concoctions just as rich, flavorful, and addicting as his taco creations. The broths and stocks are made in-house and noodles are prepared fresh from an Asian market around the corner, and the recipes are plotted out each week before Friday night rolls around. That means you're guaranteed one excellent bowl of soup, be it the pork belly and oxtail (pictured above) or the chicken katsu.
2035 Hollywood Boulevard, Hollywood. Call 754-263-2826, or visit eatgobistro.com.
If cup o' noodles instant ramen is all you've ever known, it can be difficult to understand how anyone can care so much about ramen. But the ramen at GoBistro in Hollywood is different: It's something to get excited about. All good ramen — be it shiyo, shoyu, or tonkotsu — share a few basic characteristics: a dense pile of chewy, crimped noodles; a meaty, opaque broth; ribbons of slow-cooked pork; and a pile of bean sprouts, green onion, and possibly a soft-boiled egg with a molten golden center. GoBistro ramen adheres to these requirements, and their tonkotsu ramen is breathtaking. The broth is made from scratch, a golden-opaque kotteri packed with emulsified goodness from long-boiled pork bones, the result of a two-day cooking process. Fat-laced and fragrant, the surface is like an oil slick that leaves a gelatinous sheen on your lips as you slurp away, revealing firm, crimped noodles and succulent slices of pork belly.
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1. Nori Sushi Thai Ramen
217 E Palmetto Park Road, Boca Raton. Call 561-392-2999, or call noriboca.com.