One thing that’s been pretty fun (and delicious) here in Kansas City is the recent rise in popularity of ramen shops. When I lived in NYC, I had my pick of ramen joints, with varying degrees of quality and popularity, from “sure, I’ll pay 6 bucks for izakaya ramen at 2am” to “omgggg Ippudo best ramen EVER!” When I moved to the Midwest last year, I was pleasantly surprised with my go-to ramen joint here in KC, the relatively new Columbus Park Ramen shop. Their tonkatsu ramen is the bomb! However, recently Shio Ramen Shop opened up, and I knew I had to try it out. So which noodles reigned supreme? Read on to find out.
Shio Ramen opened up in April, and much like its Columbus Park competitor, offers a simple menu that focuses on classics and a few starters. Their shio ramen looked satisfyingly traditional, with chicken dashi broth, sea salt (duh), chicken, pork belly, scallions, bamboo shoots, a slow cooked egg (yum), black garlic oil (another favorite), and of course a piece of nori. I knew I had to go with the namesake bowl of noodles. But first – we tried both appetizers – starting with the kimchi:
Yeah, kimchi is Korean, not Japanese – so I’m not really sure how it fits into the menu, but it was delicious nonetheless. My hometown in NJ has a pretty sizable Korean population, so kimchi is pretty indoctrinated into my palate of tastes, despite not being Korean. Kimchi can vary greatly in terms of texture, spiciness, sour versus sweet, etc – Shio’s version was just how I like it; crisp and not too sour. Yum!
We also ordered the shishito peppers and added kotsuobushi for a buck:
I had no idea what kotsuobushi was, but turns out it’s another name for bonito flakes, the crepe paper-like tuna shavings that adorn okonomiyaki (which I recently made for my Lucky Rice cook through!), takoyaki, and other Japanese snack food favorites. Shishito peppers are one of my favorite appetizers from Ippudo, so I was eager to try Shio’s version. Luckily for me, Shio’s were similarly delicious, with a wonderful smoky flavor and a generous sprinkle of sea salt.
As I mentioned, I had to try the shio variety of ramen (top photo), which by tradition has a salt-based broth (“shio” means salt in Japanese). Shio’s version tasted as expected in a good way – a light, flavorful chicken-based broth that is perfect for these hotter summer months. The slight departure from conventionality with the addition of black garlic oil was readily welcomed – my second favorite ramen joint in NYC, Hide-Chan, has an AMAZING black garlic oil ramen. To me, the more garlic the better, ha! It’s true. The fatty pork and the slow-cooked egg added depth and decadence to this otherwise light option. Yum!
My eating buddy ordered the shoyu ramen, which featured chicken dashi broth, soy sauce (“shoyu” is soy in Japanese), slow cooked egg, pork belly, bamboo shoot, shiitake, scallion, and nori:
With it’s umami-rich soy-based broth and shiitake mushrooms, the shoyu ramen is a heartier option than the shio variety (but still lighter than my all-time fave – tonkatsu!). This dish was also a hit, and I admit I might have reached over to steal a mushroom or two. I mean, can you blame me?
While I’d like to pick a clear winner in this battle of KC ramen joints, I’m going to give the cop-out but true answer that both Columbus Park Ramen and Shio Ramen Shop are pretty awesome. If I want a hearty, rich bowl of tonkatsu ramen (my favorite ramen variety), then Columbus Park can’t be beat – their broth is deliciously decadent and their fatty pork is droolworthy. If I’m looking for a lighter but equally delicious option, the shio ramen at Shio Ramen Shop is excellent (and not offered at CP). So, don’t ask this girl to pick her favorite carb supplier – I’ll be visiting both regularly.
Apparently, there’s a third ramen shop opening up here in KC any day now – and you know I’ll be standing at the door, appetite ready, to try this new contender to the ramen wars when it is ready. Can’t wait! How will it compare to the two incumbents? We shall see…
Shio Ramen Shop 3605 Broadway Kansas City, MO 64111