I’ve been looking forward to tonight for a long, long time. If you’re a ramen fan, you’ve probably heard the story of Keizo Shimamoto, a ramen fan who took his love of ramen to the next level. A few years ago, Keizo left a perfectly good job to pursue his love of ramen. He moved to Japan, apprenticed and worked under various ramen masters, and then came back to the U.S. to conquer the food world with his ramen burger. Fast forward to today, when you can finally try the fruits of Keizo’s ramen love at his latest creation: Ramen Shack.
Ramen Shack is currently only open on the weekends, but Keizo was nice enough to invite me to his secret test kitchen, where I was able to sample both his classic shoyu chuukasoba and his tonkotsu ramen. First up: shoyu ramen.
Wow…I mean WOW! The shoyu soup was really complex, with a well-balanced shoyu and niboshi dashi, and a hint of what seems like a yuzu pepper to give it a tangy note. Keizo’s non-traditional flat, wavy noodles had a nice chewiness and held the soup really well. I’m a fan of the curly yellow noodles that most shoyu ramen usually come with, but I could really get used to these noodles. The menma could’ve been a bit crunchier and was just a little sweet for my taste, but I’m nitpicking here. And the chasu…oh the chashu! Keizo lightly chars the chashu, and the slightly bitter char adds to a perfectly balanced lean/fat piece of pork heaven that dances in your mouth!
It’s generally hard to find a really good bowl of shoyu ramen in the U.S., but I can honestly say this is probably the best I’ve had here!
The tonkotsu ramen was also full-flavored, yet less oily than what you might expect given how rich it tastes. It’s not as creamy as the tonkotsu ramen served at many ramen shops, but this version lets the pork bone flavors shine. This is one of the lightest yet full-flavored tonkotsu ramen I’ve had. The charred onions adds a nice oomph to the flavors, and the kikurage and green onions add another layer of refreshing lightness to the ramen. Again, the chashu is just delicious, and the ramen is simply really good.
As an added bonus: no MSG is used in both of these ramen!
Ramen Shack and the Ramen Burger are both available at Smorgasburg. Remember to bring your wallet, because it’s cash only.
Saturday & Sunday 10am to 6pm