Ranking the Ramen Spots in Austin, TX.
Unfiltered Reviews of the Top Ramen Spots in Austin.
Hello everyone! I wanted to take a moment to delve deeper into the top ramen spots here in town and share my ranking with you all. Having visited Japan twice and recently in 2022, my mission was to savor the offerings of some of the best ramen shops in Japan. However, upon returning, I must admit that I couldn't quite find anything that matched the sheer excellence of what I experienced there, crafted by the masters.
Nonetheless, I'm grateful to have a few reliable spots here in town that I can turn to when I have those irresistible ramen cravings.
Vinh, the mastermind behind Ramen 512, initially launched this restaurant as a pop-up concept. My very first encounter with his incredible ramen was actually in the comfort of his apartment. We later collaborated on several pop-ups together at Seoulju. Vinh describes his concept as "ramen inspired by ramen" because his aim is to recreate the authentic flavors of the bowls he savored in Japan.
While many patrons tend to gravitate towards the classic tonkotsu pork broth, I personally believe that the Shoyu Ramen and Mazemen steal the spotlight at Ramen 512. However, what truly sets Vinh's ramen apart are his seasonal creations. Last January, he presented the remarkable Kikanbo Style Karashiba Miso Ramen—a bowl that stood out as one of the best I've ever had. Additionally, his seasonal tsukemen, with its thick and savory fish-based broth, mirrors the unforgettable bowls I enjoyed in Japan.
For all these reasons, I confidently rank Ramen 512 as the top ramen spot in Austin. To further enhance the experience, Vinh recently acquired a noodle machine, resulting in the production of exceptionally delicious ramen noodles. The dedication and passion he pours into his craft are evident with every bite.
Sazan's journey is quite interesting. Initially, they marketed themselves as a Michelin-star concept specializing in a pure chicken paitan broth derived solely from chicken bones. They held a pop-up at Fukumoto, which, despite some hiccups, showcased the delicious and flavorful nature of their ramen. The presentation was visually stunning, served in an artistic Japanese bowl adorned with pomegranate seeds and arugula.
However, when Sazan finally established its brick-and-mortar location, they made a significant change by transitioning to a "Paitan" broth that combined creamy pork and chicken flavors. This decision initially confused some patrons, but ultimately, it proved to be a positive change. The broth became rich and velvety from the chicken, while the addition of pork lent a unique umami depth. The standout bowl at Sazan remains the original paitan broth with Chicken Chashu, although I personally am not a fan of their pork chashu.
What truly sets Sazan apart is not only their exceptional ramen but also their excellent appetizers and vegan options. The wings, in particular, are perfectly crispy, with delightful seasonings that elevate the experience. Sazan has emerged as a strong contender for the number one spot in Austin, thanks to the superb quality of their creamy pork-based broth and the overall excellence of their menu.
Ramen Del Barrio
Ramen Del Barrio is a remarkable success story, having started as a pop-up and eventually transforming into a full-fledged restaurant. Chef Chris, the mastermind behind it all, initially launched Ramen Garage in his own garage, serving ramen to coworkers and close friends. I discovered him through a local ramen chef who posted about his garage operation when he had a mere 200 followers. When Chef Chris announced a reservation time for his menudo ramen, I wasted no time in claiming my spot. Arriving at a stranger's garage for a meal may sound unconventional, but the setup he had created made it feel like I was sitting at a counter in a proper ramen shop. It was a unique experience, as Chef Chris prepared the ramen right before our eyes, providing both a meal and a captivating show.
I shared a reel of my experience, and it quickly went viral, catapulting Chef Chris to around 4-5k followers overnight. Suddenly, Ramen Garage became the most sought-after spot in town, with reservations becoming incredibly difficult to secure. Since then, I have revisited to try his tomatillo Mazemen, which was an absolute delight. Chef Chris's fusion of Japanese and Mexican flavors is truly exceptional, resulting in a unique and delicious culinary experience that has earned him a well-deserved top spot.
Now, with his brick-and-mortar location in Hanaworld, Chef Chris has taken Ramen Del Barrio to new heights. If you have the opportunity, I highly recommend trying his chicken karage tossed with agave, the tomatillo Mazemen, the carnitas shoyu, and any of the seasonal specials he offers. Each dish showcases his creativity and passion, leaving you with a memorable dining experience.
I recently visited the new ramen shop, @daibokuramen, led by the talented chef Kris hammond, formerly of @sazanramen. We decided to swing by for a quick review on a weekend around 4 pm and were pleasantly surprised to find no lines. We ordered the Smoked Chicken Shoyu and the Jirokei, along with a side of furikake rice and their signature wings.
I must say, I became an instant fan of the Smoked Chicken Shoyu. The bowl had wonderful citrus notes from the kosho, complemented by a subtle smokiness. The flavors were incredibly well-balanced, and I particularly enjoyed the two types of chicken chashu. Although the portion may seem visually small, I found it to be perfect in size. Moving on to the Jirokei, it was a bit fattier than my personal preference, but I acknowledge that my bias may come from not being a huge fan of Jiro-style ramen in general. The noodles, although thick, felt slightly unusual for this particular style of ramen. On a positive note, the chicken skin furikake was quite tasty—I have a soft spot for furikake. However, the wings didn't meet my expectations in terms of crispiness, though I still prefer the ones at Sazan.
Overall, I can confidently say that @daibokuramen offers one of the best bowls of ramen I've had in Austin. I'm already looking forward to trying more of their offerings.
I was faced with a bit of a dilemma when deciding whether to place this spot above Ramen Tatsuya on my list. Personally, I believe that the Sprouting Up ramen at Jinya is one of the best bowls I've had in Austin. The roasted brussels in the dish bring a unique flavor that beautifully complements the soup broth. However, I must acknowledge that Jinya, like some other places, tends to be heavy-handed with the salt component in their dishes. Additionally, I find their chashu to be too tough for my liking.
On a positive note, the karagge (Japanese-style fried chicken) at Jinya is excellent, and they also offer a highly recommended seasonal karagge ramen. For quite some time, I frequented Jinya more often than Ramen Tatsuya before the opening of Ramen 512 and Sazan.
Overall, while Jinya has its drawbacks with the saltiness and chashu, the outstanding flavor combination of their Sprouting Up ramen makes it a top contender in my book.
Ramen Tatsuya has undeniably established itself as the benchmark for ramen in Austin. For many individuals who have yet to explore ramen beyond the city, Ramen Tatsuya tends to be their go-to favorite. Personally, I find the best ramen bowl at Ramen Tatsuya to be the tsukemen, enjoyed alongside a side of fried Brussels sprouts and a spicy bomb. The tsukemen broth is rich and thick, with a delightful sweetness and umami that I enhance with a drizzle of lime.
However, in my opinion, some of their other ramen bowls tend to be overly salty or oily. I feel that these bowls lack a proper balance of umami, and the salt component is a bit heavy-handed. Due to this, I find myself not enjoying most of the ramen options at Ramen Tatsuya. Additionally, I had a negative experience at their South Lamar location when I witnessed one of the cooks taking a phone out of his back pocket and using it to record himself cutting eggs for plating. This incident left a lasting impression, and I haven't returned to that particular location since. It appears that as Ramen Tatsuya has expanded and grown in popularity, it has become challenging for them to maintain the same level of quality they once had.
On a positive note, I must highlight that I am a fan of their chashu, which remains consistently satisfying. However, I would like to mention that there have been reports as of June 2023 suggesting a change in the Tsukemen recipe, and it appears that the new version is not as well-received by some patrons.
I haven't had the chance to revisit Marufuku recently, but I believe that at its prime, it would likely surpass most of the establishments on this list. The standout qualities at Marufuku are the impeccably balanced Chicken Paitan broth and their perfectly cooked firm noodles. In my opinion, the noodles here are the finest in town, even though they don't use sun noodles.
However, I must note that the chashu at Marufuku doesn't leave a lasting impression, and their ramen eggs are not seasoned, essentially resembling soft-boiled eggs. During my visit, the karagge I had was undercooked, but since it was their opening day, I believe that subsequent visits would offer a much-improved ramen and dining experience. Nevertheless, Marufuku undoubtedly offers the best 100% chicken broth option in town.
Please note that their spicy ramen option is not particularly spicy.
Kanji Ramen is A okay in my book. This is not traditional Japanese ramen and you can tell they are Korean owned. They put kimchi as toppings in the ramen in some of their ramen bowls and the broth itself is decent. I wouldn't say this is my goto ramen spot for anything but the service seems nice and if you're in the area it may be worth the visit. The chashu is on the tougher smaller side.
Address: 12636 Research Blvd C101, Austin, TX 78759
Actually one of the worst bowls I've ever had was at Eurasia ramen. I ordered the reaper bowl with a tempura on it and was disgusted by the amount of MSG and salt in the broth. My husband ordered classic ramen, I believe it was called, and it was similar to Michi ramen in that it didn't quite taste as flavorful as I hoped and the salt content was high. I think Eurasia is popular because it's cheap and there's multiple locations but It's definitely not my favorite.
Similar to Eurasia or Kanji ramen I was not impressed with Michi. I used to go to Michi ramen for their curry rice dishes and okonomiyaki fries. I'm not a fan of the chashu here and I find the broth too salty.
The reason Ichiumi is last on the list is similar to Eurasia and Michi. I had their Tsukemen and they added heavy cream to the broth for thickness and it tasted like queso ramen. The other bowls were also bitter and salty. The best tasting bowl was the black garlic ramen.