This is a college town, so one might assume that when you’re discussing ramen here in Newark, you’re referring to a squiggly brick of instant noodles that’s seasoned with a dehydrated spice packet. Yuck. But think again! Like other big cities that are totally on point when it comes to what’s trending in food, Newark boasts plenty of places to order up a magically delicious bowl of authentic Japanese ramen.
So what exactly makes ramen authentic, and more importantly, what makes up a truly killer ramen bowl? It starts with a great foundation. To be called ramen, it should have four principal parts: tare (the type of seasoning base), a savory broth, alkaline noodles (they can stand up to the heat of the soup) and a variety of toppings (like chicken or pork, green onion, pickled bamboo shoots, nori sheets, bean sprouts, fish cake, raw garlic, and soy-soaked eggs). A great broth is the key to great ramen, and it can be meat or veggie based, as long as it boasts tons of flavor. In fact, slurping is encouraged when it comes to chowing down on a bowl of ramen soup. It’s like giving your compliments to the chef! Beyond slurping, tackle your bowl with chopsticks and a spoon to grab every bit of goodness.
Before we get to the best bowls in Newark, let’s go over a few helpful definitions that will assist with ordering like a true ramen professional:
Tonkotsu - Probably the most popular ramen style featuring a rich, creamy broth made from pork bones.
Shoyu - Uses soy sauce as its main ingredient for a salty, savory soup packing major umami (flavor).
Shio - A classic ramen variety made with salt and any combination of chicken, seaweed, vegetables or fish.
Miso - With miso paste at its core, this bowl boasts a creamy, nutty, slightly sweet base.
That being said, when you’re craving a hot bowl of ramen, these Newark establishments may just hit the spot.
Ramen Gami - This quaint neighborhood spot serves up some seriously delicious Japanese cuisine, with a focus on ramen. Located in University Heights, Ramen Gami’s clean and casual decor is as satisfying as their menu items. Try the made-to-order tonkotsu ramen for its deep, delicious broth that will warm your soul. Vegetarian ramen options and a variety of buns are available to satisfy everyone’s palate.
Sushi House 21 - Known for its fresh and clever sushi rolls, don’t miss out on Sushi House 21. This Ironbound restaurant is a popular family-run business with a great happy hour special (five rolls for $20). But back to the ramen: the tonkotsu is full of sweet, tender pieces of pork in a delicious broth and comes highly recommended. Leave room for the mango mousse!
Nizi Sushi Japanese Bar and Restaurant - Featuring a fully stocked bar and a classy atmosphere, Nizi Sushi is a great place for a date, business meeting or happy hour meetup! Besides great sushi, this establishment has hot and steamy Japanese soups filled with udon noodles and tasty toppings. Each bowl even comes with a California roll on the side!
Banzai Sushi and Hibachi - These are not your classic bowls of ramen, but Banzai has yummy noodle soups that are perfect for a cold weather warm up. The broth is the true standout and the thick noodles are perfect for slurping.
Nagoyaka - Conveniently located mere steps from Newark Penn Station, Nagoyaka is a low-key restaurant that caters to the busy professionals downtown. When you’re craving ramen, try the udon soups for a delicious lunch option. This fast-casual spot has even been written up in The New York Times!
Fukurow - The recently-opened restaurant, Fukurow, is the freshest ramen spot to hit Newark’s foodie scene. Featuring a cute and trendy interior and located right on Rutgers-Newark’s downtown campus, Fukurow’s ramen-focused menu is earning raves. Try the shoyu loaded with fresh toppings, they’re open until 10 pm for a late night delight!