The weekly top 3 from Lee: Best Ramen


A steaming bowl of Obento-Ya ramen. Photos courtesy of Lee Guekguezian ’18.

A steaming bowl of Obento-Ya ramen. Photos courtesy of Lee Guekguezian ’18.
A steaming bowl of Obento-Ya ramen. Photos courtesy of Lee Guekguezian ’18.

I have eaten my fair share of 99-cent Ramen packets purchased from Superamerica. There is nothing wrong with them. They are very good (tasting, not for you). However, if you’re in a “treat yourself” mood, and maybe even want to feel a little fancy, give these ramen places a try.

Obento-Ya Japanese Bistro ($$) – 1510 Como Ave SE, Minneapolis – Distance from campus: 6 miles

This Japanese bistro has an extensive menu that offers Izakaya, Bento, Sushi and noodles (Ramen, Soba, Udon and Somen). Obento-Ya offers four different types of ramen, and often features a few ramen specials for both lunch and dinner. The classic “house ramen” features a beef broth with shoyu ginger pork, which can be switched out for tofu, chicken or beef. If you’re in the mood for a bowl with a little more variety, go for the “Champon Ramen,” which comes with sautéed pork, vegetables and seafood with blackened garlic oil. If you’re really in an adventurous mood, the curry ramen won’t let you down. This bowl features Japanese beef curry and vegetables with tofu katsu. While these all cost a bit more than 99 cents, they all come in at right around $13, and are pretty generous in terms of portion size. If you’re not in the mood for something warm, try the beef lettuce wraps, the salmon tartare or the seaweed salad.

Domo Gastro ($$) – 1032 3rd Ave NE, Minneapolis – Distance from campus: 7.5 miles

This new Asian-inspired gastropub features Craft beers, sandwiches, a lot of kimchi and RAMEN! While this place may not be the most authentic, their food is both creative and delicious. The menu features four types of ramen, which can be served in either a chicken or pork broth. The classic “Domo” ramen is served with egg, nori and pork belly. It costs $8 for lunch and $12 for dinner. If you’re not in the mood for meat, don’t fret! The “Miso” ramen bowl has a red miso broth, and features sprouts, egg, nori and vegetables. Another great option is the “Kimchi” ramen bowl, which comes with a kimchi purée and braised Korean beef. If these heaps of noodles don’t fill you up, try the crispy brussel sprouts, the savory umami burger, the berry cream cheese wontons or the spicy pork egg rolls. This unique eatery offers lunch, happy hour, dinner, late night and open mic night (every other Sunday). Go here! Your tastebuds won’t regret it!

Zen Box Izakaya ($$) – 602 S Washington Ave, Minneapolis – Distance from campus: 6.5 miles

This classic Japanese kitchen and pub has a more limited menu, but their traditional items won’t disappoint. The menu features sashimi, stir-fry, yakisoba, udon, Japanese-style curry, donburi and ramen. Zen Box offers up three kinds of authentic ramen: Tonkotsu, Miso and Kimchi. All are served in a house-made heritage pork broth with fresh ramen noodles, chashu (pork), soft boiled eggs and menma (bamboo shoot). The tonkotsu ramen is served with pickled ginger and seaweed, the miso ramen comes with bean sprouts and corn and the kimchi bowl is served with seaweed and kimchi. All three cost around $13, but come in a big, hunky bowl. Everything at Zen Box is designed to be shared (think Japanese tapas), so bring some hungry friends along!