Monday, January 23, 2017

A Taste of Lawrence: Ramen Bowls

 Ramen Bowls is my new favorite restaurant in Lawrence. I've been there twice in the past month and I want to return as soon as possible.

Chicken and Kimchi Tacos
Located on 10th Street in between Massachusetts and New Hampshire, Ramen Bowls is in a two-story building with tight space. Downstairs is the kitchen and two small tables that can be scooched together to make a six-top. Upstairs are more tables and a small waitress station, and it's really more of a loft than an upstairs because there is a railing and it opens up and you can see downstairs. If you get there when it's busy, you may have a waiting period but it's worth it. We waited for 30 minutes the first time we went because we had four people, but we just went across to the Replay Lounge and had a drink. The host texts you when your table is ready so it was convenient, too.

The menu consists of traditional ramen bowls, modern ramen bowls, fried rice and dumplings.

For an appetizer we ordered the Chicken and Kimchi Tacos, soft, flour tacos stuffed with braised chicken, kimchi, micro greens and bread and butter pickles. The sweetness of the pickles and the spiciness of the red pepper aioli and the tanginess of the kimchi go together perfectly. The micro greens were a nice texture. I could just order these tacos as lunch someday, but I had to save room for my noodle soup, as this was just an appetizer.

For my entree I ordered the Goddess Bowl, which could be a vegan dish but instead of tofu I asked
Goddess Bowl
for chicken. I'm just not a fan of tofu. It's something about the texture, and sometimes it doesn't have much flavor. Other than the tofu, or the chicken in my case, there is half an avocado, somen noodles, mushroom miso broth, spinach, Napa cabbage, scallions, local micro-greens and roasted red pepper aioli. When the bowl comes out, the cabbage and other veggies are are just kinda piled on top of the noodles and broth so everything is nice and fresh. The broth is always piping hot so the cabbage wilts down and the scallions soften up quickly. The red pepper aioli has a little spice to it so it gives the noodles a nice kick.

My favorite dish is basically a bowl of fried rice. The Hawaiian fried rice is amazing and I wish I could make it myself so I could just make it for dinner every night of the week. It may sound weird at first, but once you try it you will jump on board with me and never look back. It's called the Hawaiian fried rice because it has pineapple, fried Spam, peas and carrots in it. The Spam is salty and seared crisp and the pineapple is sweet. The rice is fried just right and it's perfectly fluffy so you can scoop up nice sized bites onto your chopsticks.
Hawaiian Fried Rice

If you're not one for Spam, which I realize there are some of you out there, there are various types of fried rice on the menu and you don't have to get the Hawaiian variety. I'm sure those fried rices are tasty, too, I just haven't tried them because I always want the Hawaiian rice.

I can't wait to get back to this place. I just wish there was a location available in Topeka so I didn't have to drive all the way to Lawrence. Still, it's worth the drive and the possible wait time for a table.