Ramen is taking over. What was once a buzzy food just in big cities like New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco is now popping up all over the country, including cities such as Philadelphia, Austin, and San Diego. Blame Momofuku's noodley overlord David Chang, perhaps: it's certainly no coincidence that a good number of the new ramen restaurants mimic the sleek wood aesthetic of his landmark New York restaurant Noodle Bar, and the ramen trend has only intensified after the first, ramen-themed first issue of Chang's Lucky Peach was released in 2011. Below, Eater's picks for the 19 most exciting recent editions to the ramen genre across the country.
How creative? How about Paul Qui's East Side King in Austin, which serves a combination ramen/tortilla soup? Or Oiistar in Chicago, where the Pozolmen is a riff on pozole and topped with shredded pork and pico de gallo? The brand spanking new Zen 6 in New York's East Village even has a ramenified take on the California Roll, topped with avocado, tomatoes, iceberg lettuce and bell peppers, while Oakland's Ramen Shop serves up a meyer lemon version of the traditional yuzu broth.
Of course, the traditional stuff is much more common: pork bones are simmered across the country for anywhere from 12 to 60 (!) hours at Austin's Ramen Tastu-Ya, and the noodles at San Diego's RakiRaki are simmered in an alkalized water (glasses of the stuff are complimentary). These restaurants often have quirky rules like their Japanese counterparts, where take out is not an option but slurping is most definitely allowed. Some of the restaurants even make their own noodles in house or order their own proprietary style from noodle companies in the States and abroad.
Below, the Eater National Ramen Heat Map, featuring some of the best ramen shop openings across the United States that have, for the most part, opened over the last twelve months. Don't say your favorite place? Let us know in the comments below. Long lines and long noodles, ahead.