If I were a sous chef in the Great Ramen Challenge, I'd serve tsukemen ramen and keep it simple.

As food editor Robb Walsh pointed out in the August issue of Houstonia, ramen is everywhere in Houston these days—even popping up in some unlikely places, from food trucks to Chinese fusion restaurants. You can add another place to that roster this Thursday, August 22, when IKEA is hosting what will surely be the throwdown of the year: the Great Ramen Challenge.

Great Ramen Challenge
Aug 22 at 7 p.m.
IKEA Houston
7810 Katy Freeway
bit.ly/ramenchallenge2013 

Seven of Houston's best restaurants are participating in the challenge, which—in keeping with IKEA's frugal spirit—asks chefs to create the best bowl of ramen possible with only $3 worth of ingredients, all of which must be easily found at a typical grocery store. And when I say Houston's best restaurants, I'm not paying anyone lip service: sous chefs from Underbelly, Uchi, Kata Robata, Eatsie Boys, Cove, Moon Tower Inn, and Boheme (if you haven't tried the lavash pizzas at Boheme, get there now) will all be participating this Thursday starting at 7 p.m.

Those sous chefs will be limited by more than just their $3 budget, however. The only cookware and utensils available to them will be a giant pot, one skillet, one set of knives, one cutting board, two wooden spoons, two hot plates, and a strainer—roughly the same items your average college student has on hand.

"At IKEA Houston, we are all about inspiring new and creative ways to make the most out of any space and budget," says Kim Castillo, marketing manager for the store. "Our city’s finest sous-chefs will show off their world-class talent as well as their ability to reimagine culinary creations using very limited resources."

As further acknowledgment of the importance of high-quality yet accessible food, IKEA is making a $6,000 donation to the Houston Food Bank in honor of the competition. The winning sous chef will take home one of two trophies: a Golden Ramen Trophy that represents the peoples' choice award and a second Golden Ramen Trophy that represents the winner of the "celebrity judges panel," which will be comprised of local food media personalities.

The public is welcome to come and taste test the ramen themselves starting at 7 p.m. in the upstairs restaurant at IKEA. Complimentary cocktails, beer, and light bites will be provided by IKEA, Little Soya, Deep Eddy Vodka, 8th Wonder Beer, and byjoespirits from China, though limited space is available. Reserve your spot online at http://bit.ly/ramenchallenge2013 today while you still can, and come hungry.

 

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