Best New Restaurants: Ramen
The beauty of this dive bar–cum–restaurant is in its straightforwardness: ramen is basically all they sell. Which is not to say that there aren’t choices—e.g., regular or miso broth (the latter if you prefer your ramen saltier). But every patron of Christopher Huang’s Ninja Ramen gets the same delicious bowlful of fresh Sun Noodles, fatty pork belly, and perfectly soft-boiled eggs. Bonus: every order comes with a second serving of noodles. Extra-special bonus: there are two kinds of Hitachino Japanese beer on draft, plus plenty of Japanese whiskey at the bar, perfect if you want to enjoy a boilermaker—a serving of each—with your noodles.
The long lines that greeted this place when it first opened last December may be gone, but the quality offerings remain, even as it’s a little easier to get a table at the West Houston soup stand. Ramen Jin serves four kinds of its signature dish: tonkotsu, sesame (a cold ramen), miso, and curry, with a tonkotsu shoyu and veggie coming soon. The noodles are firm and thin, and the mushrooms nicely crunchy. Just don’t go looking for that milky-white broth most tonkotsu aficionados favor. Ramen Jin’s version has more of a hearty roast pork flavor—no surprise then that the fatty chashu pork that tops the ramen is excellent as well.
This may be the city’s best ramen joint, with freshly made noodles that taste as good as they look and a tonkotsu broth that develops a deep flavor and milky color after simmering for a day and a half. The grilled hearts, gizzards, and tongues on the yakitorimenu are authentically gnarly, and even better washed down with a cold beer. Located in Chinatown’s popular Dun Huang Plaza, Tiger Den is only open for dinner and late-night dining: 11 p.m. on weeknights and midnight on weekends. If you go early, expect a 10-minute wait for a seat in the tiny wood-paneled dining room—the busy kitchen usually serves around 400 bowls of ramen a day.