NYC : Hide-Chan Ramen
The entrance to the restaurant is very reminiscent of the queuing process at a “fun” park! The stairs that leads up to the restaurant has signs indicating the estimated wait time given your distance from the ramen! Luckily for, there’s no queue on a Monday afternoon at 5pm. However, within 10 mins the place begins to fill up.
The layout is a reasonably conventional arrangement a mixture of table to accommodate groups and a bar area with stools for the loners! The menu covers most of the usual except that you can choose the type of noodles; straight or wavy and then firm to soft. As it’s happy hour I start off with a sake and spicy pork bun.
I plum for the wavy firm noodles with spicy garlic broth which are delivered moments after finishing the delicious pork bun. The noodles were indeed wavy and firm – a good chewy consistency with a very nice spicy broth. Given the ample overpour, the noodle/ sake combination is a winner!
Chicago : Ramen-san
Ramen-san is in the “River North” area of downtown Chicago. A stones throw from the shops of the magnificent mile, Ramen-san is a more modern interpretation of a Japanese Noodle house. The staff were courteous and very willing to help but it’s not the warm welcome of Hide-Chan Ramen. The menu is very similar which makes comparisons much easier! So, pork bun to start followed by Tonkotsu Ramen with Sesame Chilli oil and accompanied by an aragoshi yuzu sake. No overpour here, but none the less, the yuzu sake is a very refreshing drink!.
To the ramen; the difference between the Ramen-san and Hide-Chan Ramen is immediately noticeable. The chashu from the Chicago contender is thicker, mroe juicy and much more tasty! The broth is deep, smooth and nicely hot given the sesame chilli oil. The noodles are wavy and properly chewy! The molten egg (as described by the menu) is really molten – an amazing trick to pull that one-off!
WINNER : Ramen-san Chicago
Over all, Ramen-san wins this fight hands down. The only disappointment was the setting – whilst nice and clean it lacks a more Japanese feel to it.