In downtown Birmingham, Ala., Ichicoro Imoto slings out modern, authentic and Latin-inspired ramen at The Pizitz Food Hall. Weekend brunch features broth-less, mazeman-style bacon, eggs and cheese ramen. courtesy of Ichicoro Imoto
Alaska has a plethora of authentic and creative ramens, and Anchorage locals head to Ramen House by Saijo, where simple yet hugely flavorful shoyu, shio and miso ramen headline the menu. Andrew Holman Photography
Asian-fusion restaurant and craft cocktail bar The Clever Koi has restaurants in both Phoenix and historic downtown Gilbert, Ariz., staffing butchers who break down the meat in house for dishes like pork belly ramen. courtesy of The Clever Koi
In Lafayette, Ark., Ginger Rice and Noodle Bar dishes out authentic Japanese and Korean dishes, often with more international flair. Ginger’s pozole-style ramen comes topped with pork belly, hominy, onions, cilantro, cabbage, lime and soy sauce-boiled egg. courtesy of Ginger Rice and Noodle Bar
Helmed by so-called “new ramen pioneer” Kousuke Yoshimura, Los Angeles’ Hakata Ikkousha follows the chef’s motto of bringing happiness to all people by serving rich, tonkotsu-style ramen at low prices. courtesy of Hakata Ikkoush
Denver’s Uncle cooks up its own creative spin on the traditional noodle soup. Think duck ramen served with apples and arugula and a mushroom adorned veggie ramen made with vegan miso broth. Adam Bove
For students (and pretty much anyone else) in New Haven, Conn., Midnight Ramen has become a late-night weekend fixture. Fridays and Saturdays from 11 p.m. to 3 a.m., the pop-up serves four types of ramen, all to be topped with the diner’s choice of pork, chicken, beef or vegetables. courtesy of Midnight Ramen
Delaware is still short on ramen joints, but Newark’s Ramen Kumamoto, which is run by a former Morimoto sous chef, brings the noodle soup to the small state. courtesy of Ramen Kumamoto
In Orlando, Domu adds to Florida’s heat by serving steamy, spicy bowls of ramen. House-made noodles are served in slow-cooked broths, ranging from chicken to pork based, and can be chased with craft cocktails from Domu’s bar. courtesy of Domu
Located inside Atlanta’s Ponce City Market, Ton Ton offers an expertly executed, slurpable menu that encourages the quick enjoyment of traditional Japanese ramens. Mia Yakel
With six locations in Honolulu, Agu is Hawaii’s ramen spot. Traditional pork-based ramens are available as are more unusual creations like the Hot Mess, which has black garlic oil, garlic butter, garlic chips and freshly grated Parmesan cheese. courtesy of Agu
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In boundlessly cool Portland, Ore., Marukin Ramen brings Portlandians together at communal tables to slurp classic, vegetarian and curry ramens.(Photo: courtesy of Marukin Ramen)
In winter, there’s one delicious way Americans can stay warm in every state: ramen. Once relegated only to dehydrated noodles with seasoning packets, traditional Japanese ramen has seen a resurgence across the USA, with bowls of the chef-created noodle soup often reflecting regional ingredients and flavors.
“In cities like Nashville, Tampa and Austin, ramen shops tend to cater to a more local palette, we call this craft ramen," says Kenshiro Uki, vice president of operations for Sun Noodle, which manufactures custom ramen noodles for restaurants across the country. “For example, I’ve seen brisket ramen in Texas, but also shrimp and citrus-infused ramen in Tampa.” Uki notes that cities with “significant” Japanese populations often have the most authentic ramen, with varieties including the traditional tonkotsu, shoyu and miso.
Still, Americanized ramen remains true to its origins. “Chefs are sticking to the fundamental techniques of what makes a great bowl of ramen, and using ingredients that are fresh and locally available,” says Uki.
For those who have only had the 30-cent, packaged version once popular with college students, Uki reminds ramen novices that homemade or restaurant ramen is a “completely different dish,” and the popularization of this type of ramen across America indicates the growing demand for fresh, healthy food.
More than a trend that will cool off by next winter, ramen is becoming a facet of American cuisine, a canvas for which chefs can show off their favorite ingredients, techniques, and perhaps even introduce new concepts to the American palate. Just look at New York chef Esther Choi, who started Mokbar in 2014, with the goal of introducing New Yorkers to traditional Korean cuisine, using noodles as a vehicle to get unfamiliar tangy, spicy or fermented flavors in their mouths. Several awards, accolades and bowls of Korean ramen later, Choi has opened a second restaurant, shying away from ramen and serving Americans what she wanted to introduce them to all along.
“Ramen is here to stay and definitely not just a trend,” says Uki. “It’s our job to support the ramen shops that are introducing people to ramen, and crafting recipes that are authentic yet familiar to their diners here in the U.S. This balance is key.”
From pozole ramen in the Southwest to cheesesteak-inspired noodle soup in Detroit, browse the photos above for where to eat ramen across the 50 states, and see more from the series below.