Ramen has been simmering on Long Island for years, but now it has reached a boil.
These are not the ramen noodles that got you through college: The noodles are fresh and pliable, not molded into a brick. And the broth isn’t made by emptying the contents of a foil packet into boiling water. It’s a long-simmered affair that may be based on pork bones (tonkotsu ramen), soy sauce (shoyu ramen), fermented bean paste (miso ramen) or some other combination of the chef’s devising.
Virtually all Japanese (and many Asian fusion and Chinese) restaurants have a couple of bowls of ramen on the menu. Here are the places that are raising the ramen bar.
8 Ramen (17 S. Park Ave., Rockville Centre): This newish ramenerie is a jewel box of a handful of bleached-wood communal tables, open shelving for knickknacks and greenery suspended from the walls and ceiling. The menu includes nine noodle dishes, including classic shoyu ramen, miso ramen and tonkotsu ramen, along with some less familiar (and significantly pricier) items such as dipping ramen (the noodles are served nude with a miso dipping sauce), a Thai-tinged tom yam lobster ramen (with a whole, shell-on lobster) and ramen by the sea (with snow crab, shrimp, scallops, mussels and squid). More info: 516-632-8288, 8-ramen.business.site
Ikedo Ramen (983 Port Washington Blvd., Port Washington): A vibrant dining room and breezy back patio are the stage for chef Jason Lin, a longtime ramen veteran, and his robust, artful bowls of noodles, from smoldering, spicy tonkotsu ramen with house black-garlic oil to kimchi ramen and brothless, stir-fried ramen. Beer, wine and sake are on hand, as are plenty of rice bowls and small plates such as a cold tofu salad dolloped with chili sauce or donburi topped with anything from katsu chicken to chashu. More info: 631-441-5780. ikedoramen.com
Teinei Ya Ramen (140 Jericho Tpke., Syosset): This chic little eatery, an offshoot of the Little Neck original, is at the back of a Japanese grocery. The menu helpfully rates each ramen bowl on a five-point richness scale. With its creamy pork-and-chicken broth, Yokohama-style ramen scores a four out of five. Tonkotsu ramen, made with a clear-ish pork broth, scores a two and a half. Vegetarian "tempula" ramen trails at one. There is also spicy ramen, dan dan sesame ramen and ramen with edamame falafel. Prices range from $11 to $13. More info: 516-472-0672
Kiko Ramen (361 Nassau Blvd. South, Garden City): This is the western cousin of Iron Ramen in Stony Brook, and chef-owner Leo Li's ramen bowls rely on long-simmered pork, chicken and vegetarian broths for the standard-bearers (shoyu, miso, tonkotsu). There's also spicy tan-tan ramen — influenced by Chinese dan-dan noodles — and vegan and seafood ramen, served at about a dozen tables. More info: 516-307-9211, kikoramen.com
Sherry Blossom (78 W. Park St., Long Beach): Sherry Zheng’s friendly Long Beach eatery has its share of poke and sushi burritos, but the four ramen bowls are not afterthoughts. The three meat preparations each highlight a different main ingredient: chashu pork (Japanese-style pork belly), seafood (shrimp, kani and fish cakes), or grilled chicken. The vegetable ramen harbors shiitake mushrooms, asparagus and broccoli, and can be ordered with pork or vegetable broth; choose from wheat, kale-wheat or rice noodles for any order. More info: 516-889-1200, sherryblossom.net
Bakuto (121 N. Wellwood Ave., Lindenhurst): This mural-covered izakaya bar serves artful ramen bowls, from miso-cured pork belly to Serrano ham truffle ramen, in addition to Japanese-style bar and Chinese street food (think robata skewers and bao) that’s meant for sharing. Vibrant cocktails, such as a lemongrass negroni or shochu sour, seal the deal for a memorable date night. More info: 631-225-1760, bakutobar.com
eShin Noodle Bar (1113 Rte. 25A, Stony Brook): This minimalist spot is the domain of Momofuku Noodle alum chef Kai Wang, whose complex, delicate ramen is assembled in an open kitchen. Ten-hour broths begin with multiple kinds of bones (or kombu) and shift seasonally, from a light take on tonkotsu broth in summer (filled with corn-fed, confited pork-belly chashu) to a ruch beef broth layered with Wagyu brisket, pickled Napa cabbage and other seasonings; a spicy "dry" vegan tan-tan ramen is based on tomato dashi, and tori dashi ramen with confited chicken. More info: 631-675-6333. eshinrestaurants.com
Slurp Ramen (109 W. Broadway, Port Jefferson): At this, the OG of fast-casual ramen on the Island (with a view of Port Jefferson Harbor), tackle chef Atsushi Nakagawa’s milky tonkotsu ramen or shoyu broth with katsu chicken. — while the "slurp smooth" pairs a chicken-based shoyu broth with crunchy Japanese-style fried chicken. The noodles come from a New York City branch of Ippudo, Japan’s famous ramen restaurant chain. No need to nibble your noodles quietly inside this busy ramen shop — noisy slurping signals enjoyment, both in Japan and here. More info: 631-509-1166, slurpusa.com
Ichi Sushi & Ramen (700 North Country Rd., East Setauket): Wooden booths line the walls inside this quaint, rustic sushi spot that also has a lineup of classic ramen bowls, from spicy miso ramen to shoyu, tonkotsu, seafood and vegetable ramen. Most every bowl can be made spicy or accented with black garlic oil, and where ramen bowls leave off, a lengthy roster of specialty sushi rolls (and nigiri sushi) steps in. More info: 631-675-1500, ichisushiramen.com
MB Ramen (335 New York Ave., Huntington): There is a street-savvy vibe at this bustling ramen counter, where traditional shoyu and tonkotsu broths share the lineup with a Chinese-inflected tan tan ramen (with spicy sesame broth and fried chicken) and a "grilled cheese" bowl whose noodles bathe in a roasted tomato broth with smoked Gouda and garlic croutons. There are a few tables, but the best seats are at the counter, where you can see the chefs in action. More info: 631-923-3176, mbramenshop.com
Iron Ramen (2350 Nesconset Hwy., Ste. 300, Stony Brook): This bold, bustling spot gets creative with meat toppings — chashu pork belly, chashu pork loin, ground pork, kara-age chicken, cold vegan ramen and curry katsu chicken among them. Japanese and Chinese snacks and a rainbow of milk, flower and fruit teas, plus tea smoothies, make this a category-busting kind of place. More info: 631-675-0228, ironramenstonybrook.com
Rakkii Ramen (97 E. Main St., Smithtown): Take a seat at the long, sleek front counter for bowls of fresh, wavy noodles filled with tonkotsu, spicy miso or curry ramen, For a cozier, lazier experience, claim a booth or table in one of the back dining rooms and settle in with some sake, jasmine tea and black-sesame panna cotta. More info: 631-780-6500, rakkiiramen.com
O.G. Ramen (14A Railroad Ave., Babylon): OG's soy-less, health-conscious spin on ramen was dreamed up by brothers Salvatore and Frank Bono, and gracefully composed bowls are presented in a tiny, modern dining room with wooden benches, a window counter and a succinct menu. A citrusy yuzu-chicken broth underpins the classic ramen, while a "faux soy" shoyu broth is made with coconut amino acids. There’s gluten-free noodles, too, and a handful of well-chosen beers and sake. More info: 631-620-3680, ogramen.com
Stirling Sake (477 Main St., Greenport): Chef-owner Yuki Mori was a sake sommelier in New York City before he headed to the North Fork to open Stirling Sake, a bright, modern spot where he plates both hot and cold Japanese dishes, from super-fresh raw fish to gyoza. Ramen bowls, in particular, are on point. For tonkotsu ramen, Mori braises locally raised pork from Cutchogue’s 8 Hands Farms to top rich, kotteri-style broth with wavy noodles, scallions, minced red ginger and red-ear mushrooms, plus a custardy soft-boiled egg. Mori’s kimchi ramen features a spicy dashi broth with house kimchi, egg, shiitake mushrooms and wakame; and a duck ramen has salty yuzu broth and local duck breast from Crescent Duck farm. More info: 631-477-6782, stirlingsake.com