The Daily Meal recently published our 25 Best Ramen Shops in America for 2014, and in order to compile our ranking, we contacted the leading culinary authorities around the country to ask them about their personal favorite shops are (sticking to restaurants that specialize in ramen and noodles, as opposed to sushi bars with one bowl of ramen on the menu), and we supplemented those suggestions with ramen shops featured in local rave reviews and pre-existing local rankings. We then took that list of more than 100 shops from across the country and conducted a survey, with the shops separated by region. We invited our group of trusted panelists (made up of chefs, bloggers, journalists, and other culinary authorities) to vote for their favorites, and more than 30, including the Los Angeles Times’ Jonathan Gold and our fleet of city editors, cast their votes. In the end there was one clear winner, but the top shops aren’t all found in ramen hotspots like New York and the Bay Area; there’s great ramen all over America, including in Austin.
You might have heard of chef Paul Qui thanks to his Top Chef win and his eponymous Austin hotspot, but the guy can also make one heck of a bowl of ramen. What started as three food trucks has now expanded to include a full-time brick-and-mortar location as well as a pop-up (that’s been going on for two years), East Side King at Hole in the Wall, and only this location serves ramen. Qui is firing on all cylinders here: his Sapporo Beer Miso Ramen contains chicken and pork dashi, white miso, chashu pork, and beer foam; the Chicken Tortilla ramen is a play on tom yum soup with braised chicken thigh and avocado; and the kimchi pork ramen has a chicken and pork dashi, braised pork, fried tofu croutons, and kimchi. Want to think way outside the bowl? Opt for one of their specials, like the squid ink ramen made with fried calamari, tomatoes, fried potatoes, curry powder, and Parmigiano-Reggiano.
East Side King beat out the other ramen shop in Austin included on our list, Ramen Tatsu-Ya (#11), making it the best ramen shop in the city this year.