Winter is coming (sorry, ladies — Jon Snow is not), so I thought it would be a good time to venture out and find the best places to slurp ramen around the Charlotte region.
This is not an exclusive list, just a few of my favorites. If I failed to mention yours, please let me know in the comments below so I can go check them out.
But first, here are some pointers on how to eat ramen like a pro:
(1) Begin by using chopsticks to taste the noodles. Don’t try and gulp the entire bowl of noodles at once. (I know it’s tempting.) Take a small amount of noodles and dunk them into the broth prior to eating.
(2) Slurping is necessary, so don’t be shy if you’re on a first date. Dunk, slurp, chomp, repeat. Fun fact: In Japanese culture it’s insulting to the chef to eat your ramen quietly. The louder you are, the better.
(3) Do not, I repeat, do not stir toppings into soup. The meat and egg are meant to be enjoyed separately. Think of these as side dishes floating around in your broth. Remember that it’s OK to take a bite and put it back in the bowl.
(4) Eat your bowl quickly. Do not sit and indulge in the sight and smell of your flawless ramen bowl. Ramen is meant to be a quick meal that’s enjoyed while it’s still piping hot.
Now here’s where to get the good stuff.
222 E Bland St.
Recommended Ramen — Tonkotsu: Pork bone broth, pecan smoked pork belly, scallion, mushroom, onsen egg, pickled ginger, nori, sesame and black garlic.
2440 Park Road.
Recommended Ramen — Kyushu Gomoku Champon: Chuka egg noodles in piping-hot soy ramen soup that is topped with calamari, scallops and shrimp.
1714 South Blvd.
Recommended Ramen — Gumbo Ramen: Gumbo base, andouille, ramen noodles, crawfish, charred cabbage and a kimchi marinated soft egg.
1324 Central Ave.
Recommended Ramen — Spicy miso ramen: Spicy miso broth, chashu (pork), nori, sesame seeds, scallions, menma, seasoned egg and fishcake. I recommend adding bean sprouts.
Lake Norman and Cabarrus
8625-C Lindholm Drive, Huntersville.
Recommended Ramen — Curry Kick: Coconut curry broth, chicken, herbs and string beans.
360 Exchange St. NW, Concord.
Recommended Ramen — Miso Ginger Pork Ramen Bowl: Miso ginger broth, Napa cabbage, tender pork slices, onions, carrots, scallions and topped with a fresh fried egg.
16925 Birkdale Commons Parkway, Huntersville.
Recommended Ramen — Tonkatsu: Ramen noodles, smoked pork belly, soy marinated egg, steamed bok choy, housemade pickles, enoki mushroom, scallions and microgreens.
Photos: Jessica Bentley