Mar 16, 2023 - Food and Drink

Food Fight: Where to find the best ramen in Chicago

Photo of a bowl of ramen
Spicy shrimp ramen at Bill Kim's Ramen Bar in the Time Out Market. Photo: Justin Kaufmann/Axios

In honor of March Madness, we tussle over a great college standby: ramen.

  • Of course, the ramen we're talking about is a little bit more grown up than the Cup Noodles we used to devour in our dorm rooms. And so much more delicious!

Justin's pick: I miss Slurping Turtle on Hubbard, but I'm going with Bill Kim's Ramen Bar in the Time Out Market.

The legendary chef of Urban Belly originally built the ramen bar as a delivery concept, but now it's a staple at the Fulton Market food hall.

  • I opted for a hybrid order, combining the spicy broth with shrimp and chicken wontons ($18.99).
  • It came with a savory pork broth, chili garlic marinade and a Korean chili powder.
Photo of ramen
Ramen from Ramen Wasabi in Logan Square. Photo: Monica Eng/Axios

Monica's pick: The Original Tonkotsu ramen ($17) from Ramen Wasabi in Logan Square.

  • Springy noodles in a luscious creamy broth, topped with pickled bamboo shoots, a perfectly soft boiled egg and silky pork belly that melts in your mouth.
  • Plus, the chili oil delivers as much deliciousness as heat.

Here are readers' suggestions:

Mark K.: "I love the Nagasaki Champon (Nagasaki-style ramen) at Cocoro on Wells.

  • "The broth is so creamy, I can only have it occasionally as a treat! And make sure to have a grilled Sanma as an appetizer if they have it."

Loreal R.: "DaiFuku Ramen in Chinatown is tasty. Their spicy garlic is amazing, and the spice levels don't disappoint!"

Gustavo B.: "Right now, my favorite ramen is Rakkan Ramen in Uptown. Really full-flavored broth, and even if ramen is not your thing, the takoyaki and crispy gyozas will not let you down.

  • "Also, do not forget to ask for the matcha, either cold (my favorite) or hot!"

Monica H.: "The new kid on the ramen block, Papa Bop in Evanston, has a yummy seafood ramen."

Joey C.: "Strings Ramen in Lakeview next to the Belmont station. All versions are great. But if you’re ok with spicy, their hell ramen is unmatched. Prepare to sweat. "

Larry G.: "Menya Goku in Lincoln Square. Add extra pork to every dish."

Sara B.: "Coming from Japan after some years, I'm on the hunt for good Japanese food in Chicago.

  • "Not ramen, but I highly suggest checking out West Loop's Gaijin and their okonomiyaki. It's legit. Their kakigori, or shaved ice, is as big as my toaster and very insta-worthy, I need to try it next time."

Nick J.: "If Ramen House Shinchan in Palatine is not on this list then you have done the readers of Axios Chicago a great disservice.

  • "Better than any ramen I've had in the city, even though Wasabi and Monster are very good."

Karim M.: "High Five Ramen under Green St Smoked Meats is my fav in the city, and one I always go for every time I'm back home! The chashu is perfectly melty-in-your-mouth, the broth is fiery but with depth, the noodles are perfectly springy, and they even sell some alcoholic slushees to cool you off while you're eating.

  • "I'd also be remiss not to mention Ramen Lord, who is probably the internet's most famous ramen expert, and he is conveniently based in Chicago. Apparently he's opening a restaurant later this year. "

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