One of the first tasks at hand for us in Seattle? Find good ramen. Fast. We’ve been to several and so far, and Samurai Noodle is hands down our favorite. They serve our favorite style of ramen which is Hakata-style; tonkatsu with thin noodles. We’ve been to both the International and University District locations, and favor the University District. They have a larger menu (with gyoza and fried rice), plus allow you to specify noodle firmness and the level of richness of the broth.
My usual order? Noodles very firm, broth normal, with an added egg. Adam gets the same, but with richer broth; essentially meaning there’s more pork fat in it. Along with this comes a very thick, fatty, tender, and pretty flavorful piece of tonkatsu, green onions, and seaweed.
I’d rate the ramen here as good. Ramen noodles have to be good, but really, it’s mostly about the broth. The broth here is served nice and hot, just as it should be. But it’s slightly lacking something. Umami? Richness? Salt? I can’t put my finger on the exact thing. Just to let everyone know, I’m somewhat picky about ramen. Okay, maybe a bit more than somewhat! I grew up in the Southbay area of Los Angeles, which has arguably the best ramen outside of Japan, as well as a huge variety of places and styles to choose from. Where my parents live, there are probably 10-15 different ramen-ya’s within a 10 minute drive from their house. And some really, really good ones too.
I was surprised at how few ramen-yas there are here in the Seattle area. I know there’s a decent sized Japanese population. It’s cold and damp here. The community supports small, local restaurants. There are tons of pho restaurants, so why not ramen-ya’s? While I ponder this, I’ll continue to support Samurai Noodle.