By Jonathan Nassar
It’s raining ramen
As I write this, cold weather seems to have come very quickly! Wasn’t it 90 degree weather just a day or two ago? Where’s my jacket? I’ve been waiting for cold weather to come for so long, I feel a little silly for being so surprised – then again, we didn’t have much of in-between weather to prepare us.
I do look forward to cold weather, though – it’s now socially acceptable to drink hot chocolate again (as if I ever stopped). A hot drink or hot soup on a cold day is a nice treat, and so each year I try to think of where I can find good soups for lunch or dinner. Around Timbergrove, that seems to mean ramen.
My go-to for the brothy stuff is Agu, at the north corner I-10 and Washington, where Christian’s Tailgate used to be. Agu has a variety of ramen for a variety of tastes – start off deciding if you want a pork (tonkotsu) or chicken (tori) based ramen, and if you want a heavier (shoyu, which is a soy sauce) or lighter (shio, a more plain salty) broth. Agu is originally a Hawaiian chain, so I think of it as being from as close as you can get to Japan, while staying within the 50 states. Agu also has curries, rice bowls, and a bunch of other options, but I have a hard time turning down their ramen.
A relative newcomer is Tamashi, in one of the strips immediately outside the Marquee on Silber. Tamashi is a much smaller space and has a smaller menu – which makes it more approachable, I think. They don’t have 20 different ramen options, but they do the basics very well. Tamashi also has a good variety of sushi, so I think their menu really caters well to what a lot of people want or expect out of a Japanese place.
Lastly, remember that Korean place on 11th, east of Shepherd? I wanted to tell you that if you’ve tried it, it’s worth going back as they updated their menu about a year ago and added some crave-worthy ramen. And I wanted to say that it might be a strange move for a Korean place – but there has been another pivot toward Japanese food and the place is now called Blackbird Izakaya. To be honest, I haven’t tried the latest incarnation yet, but I did go about a month before its latest switch and was very impressed (the house sake didn’t hurt either). It was never a super traditional place, and their latest pursuit keeps some of their previous key unique elements, such as that delicious ramen.
I’ve been trying to think about whether restaurants are family-friendly and comment on options that are helpful for smaller children (why can’t more places have changing tables in the men’s restrooms). Each of these restaurants have always seemed really friendly and happy to receive me and my family. Simply put, soup isn’t the best for grabby 1-year-olds in high-chairs, and that’s just the nature of the beast. Any ramen place I’ve been to will at least offer a broth-less bowl of noodles and whatever veggies they have for the smaller kids who would have trouble with soup, at least.