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ramen rating: nippon japanese restaurant – houston, tx

nippon japanese restaurant

This is edjusted reporting to you from Dallas, Texas–wait, what? What do you mean there’s no ramen here? Nothing?! No, Tampopo doesn’t count. Seriously? No ramen? Sigh…ok, pack it up. We’ll just get some etuoffee at Pappadeaux instead…

This is edjusted reporting to you from Houston, Tex–what?! Again? No ramen?! Aw c’mon! These are two huge cities with so much good food! …a sushi restaurant? Well, that brisket sandwich for lunch was damngoode “so I guess I can take one for the team…it’s called what? “Nippon Japanese restaurant”? You’re kidding? Isn’t that’s like calling your restaurant Korea Korean restaurant, Fran�aise French restaurant or Deutschland German restaurant! Alright alright, beggars can’t be choosers.

On a recent trip to Dallas and Houston, I was excited to check out the Texas ramen scene, only to find out that there wasn’t one. I’d heard good things about Nippon Japanese restaurant’s sushi, and since it was within walking distance of my hotel, I decided to give their ramen a try. (apologies for the poor picture quality. I had to use my cell phone because my camera battery died.)

nippon japanese restaurant

Nippon is a cozy restaurant with a large outdoor patio area and a sushi bar inside. Supposedly they have both an English menu and a special “Japanese menu” with items not available on the English menu, but since I wasn’t after anything exotic, I didn’t bother to ask. The ramen is listed in the Udon & Soba section (uh oh) and is simply called “Japanese Ramen” in English, “ramen” in Japanese. I ordered the ramen with some sushi and was asked which ramen I wanted. “Um…the Japanese one?” I stammered, slightly confused. The friendly waitress told me I could order shoyu, miso, or tonkotsu ramen. She recommended the tonkotsu ramen and that’s what I ordered.

nippon japanese restaurant

Nippon’s tonkotsu ramen comes topped with seaweed bits, moyashi, menma, a slight sprinkling of sesame seeds, half a hard boiled egg, chashu, and beni sh?ga. Breaking my usual “soup first” rule, I dove right in and slurped the noodles. The noodles were of the thicker variety, slightly soft without much taste, and tasted as if they came right out of a package of nama ramen. That’s not necessarily a bad thing: there are many good-to-great nama ramen noodles out there. But in this case, Nippon’s noodles were middling at best. I then sipped the soup, wondering what to expect. It was extremely light in flavor, without much of a pork flavor. It reminded me of chicken soup, except without the chicken. It was a decent, non-descript soup without any outstanding characteristics. It’s the kind of soup you could drink, enjoy, then immediately forget about.

There isn’t much to say about most of the toppings: the menma was crunchy and barely marinated, the egg was simply hard-boiled, and there’s too much you could do with moyashi, seaweed or red ginger. The (single piece of) chashu, though, was unexpected. The chashu was slightly fatty and extremely tender! The texture was very good, and it seemed like extra care was taken to making the chashu more than average. Unfortunately, the flavor was too sweet for my taste. It far from cloying, but a flavor of mirin and brown sugar stood out, distracting me from the actual pork flavor. Overall, the chashu has real potential and is leaps beyond what you would expected from a sushi restaurant ramen.

nippon japanese restaurant

Most people don’t go to sushi restaurants to eat the ramen, but in a pinch, Nippon’s tonoktsu ramen does an adequate job. Frankly, you could get better noodles and soup in some nama ramen, but Nippon’s chashu redeems it somewhat. Stick with their sushi (their hamachi is quite good…the maguro, not so much), but if you just gotta have a bowl of ramen, you could do much worse. Nippon Japanese restaurant gets a 4.5 out of 10.

Nippon japanese restaurant
4464 Montrose Blvd
Houston, TX 77006
(713) 523-3939

  9 comments for “ramen rating: nippon japanese restaurant – houston, tx

  1. 2/17/2009 at 7:35 am

    Interesting info. Thanks!

  2. 2/17/2009 at 9:35 am

    Hahaha…at least it wasn’t called Cowboy Taka’s Japanese Restaurant (or something like that)! Thanks for taking one for the team. I don’t ever think I’ll make it out to Houston.

    Btw, my mom just got back from Switzerland and said she found a ramen-ya in Zurich serving a $39 bowl of ramen! What!! I think I’ll open a ramen-ya in Switzerland!..haha.

  3. 2/17/2009 at 10:20 pm

    @Raquel: thanks for visiting!

    @Keizo: $39!?! US$39 or 39 euro? Either way…wow…were there gold flakes in it?

  4. Anonymous
    10/21/2009 at 9:49 am

    i originally was looking for an address to a japanese restaurant at 651 westheimer. but fortunately i ran into this japanese place. very classy looking too. went inside and was greeted. they said moshi moshi which i thought was odd. because i lived in japan and you only say moshi moshi on the phone. lol so i figured they were kinda fake japanese people lol. but i was seated and my company was too. he had never been so i did the ordering. i was a little disappointed they didnt have more variety of the ramen soup. but i ordered two witht he spider rolls. which is soft crab shell legs deep friend. he looked really funny struggling with his chopsticks. they even gave us two complimentary spider rolls before our order. and then they brought our soups. which consisted of 2 slices of fish cakes, brown lil bamboo shoots, mushroom, seaweed, possibly spinach, green onions, and half a slice of egg and two slices of roasted pork. it took me back to japan as a kid. i loved it. although i which they served it with corn they wouldve really took the cake. i didnt eat the fish cake bamboo shoots or mushroom. but i still liked it alot. the bill didnt come up to more the 30 bucks 2 soups one drink one order of spider roll. i drink water. my company was happy he got to try something new and i was happy to relive a japan memory as a kid. they even gave him on the house dessert. he pick mango. and loved it. i had a great time. i would like to go again and maybe get him to try some sushi i just didnt want to scare him away from japanese food the first time lol. although i may go check out some other restaurants that have a variety of ramen and that specialize in it so there for their portions would be bigger. im hoping anyways.

  5. 10/24/2009 at 11:16 pm

    @Anonymous: I’m glad you enjoyed it. I had trouble finding *any* ramen places in Houston!

  6. Deb
    6/27/2011 at 7:35 pm

    It’s 2011, and there’s still no Japanese ramen scene in Houston =( However, Teppay Japanese Restaurant on Westheimer and Sushi Jin at Memorial and Dairy Ashford are not insultingly bad.

    • 6/28/2011 at 11:08 pm

      @DEB: that’s too bad, but then again, you guys have some freaking amazing bbq! (I went to Goode Company last time I was there. Best brisket I’ve ever had.) I’ll keep Teppay and Sushi Jin in mind next time I’m in town. Thanks!

  7. Joe
    3/8/2012 at 10:09 am

    Try the ramen at Kata Robata on Richmond at Kirby in Houston.

    • 3/15/2012 at 10:19 pm

       @Joe: thanks. I’ll look for it next time I’m in Houston.

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