No plans for a trip to Tokyo anytime soon? Warm up here with a hearty bowl of ramen.
Sure, the marquee items at Masu Sushi & Robata generate all the attention — with good reason — but the kitchen’s beautiful noodle dishes are also worthy of devotion, including a handful of meticulously prepared ramen ($12 and $13). Do not miss the variation that’s brimming with Chinese broccoli and crispy pork.
330 E. Hennepin Av., Mpls., 612-332-6278 and Mall of America, Bloomington, 952-896-6278, www.masusushiandrobata.com
At lovely, serene Tanpopo Noodle Shop chef/owner Koshiki Yonemura devotes Monday evenings to ramen, focusing her energies on a pork-chicken-soy broth ($12), adding noodles, soft-cooked eggs, bamboo shoots, nori sheets, a bit of chile oil and locally raised pork prepared two ways. Insiders know to make reservations.
308 Prince St., St. Paul, 651-209-6527
Lively Zen Box Izakaya serves up three varieties ($12 and $13) of steaming Berkshire pork-bone broth goodness, all fortified with slow-braised pork and soft-cooked eggs (don’t miss the zesty kimchi version). On Tuesday evenings, chef/co-owner John Ng offers a vegetarian option ($12), building a flavor base with celery root and umami-laden shiitake mushrooms, then topping with house-made tofu crackers and shiitakes simmered in soy and mirin. There’s a vegan edition, too. Well, sort of. It uses udon noodles.
602 Washington Av. S., Mpls., 612-332-3936