Chicagoans are wild about noodles, and not just pasta. Both ramen and pho have found welcome and waiting audiences in the Windy City. While these dishes may seem easy to make, their simplicity is deceptive. Not just any ol’ place can make decent noodles, so we’ve found the best ramen and pho in River North and the South Loop.
Slurping Turtle is the ramen home for Chef Takashi Yagihashi. His original Bucktown location may be closed, but this River North spot is going strong, with pork bone broth so creamy it’s opaque. This location also makes its own noodles, a rarity in the ramen world. Gluten-free fans will be happy that they’ve got a menu just for them, as well as a menu of fresh sushi and sashimi.
Umai is a restaurant in the South Loop that offers a full Japanese menu, including ramen. You can start with one of their signature maki before digging into a bowl of spicy roasted garlic pork ramen, or some winter ramen with sliced ribeye. They’ve also got Udon, which is a thicker noodle that they serve in dashi broth.
Billy Dec owns several restaurants in River North and Chicago, and one of his most popular is the pan-Asian favorite Sunda. While it’s not specifically a Vietnamese restaurant, the menu draws on several cuisines, and their pho is considered one of the best in the city. Loaded with bison short rib, bone marrow, and sliced Wagyu, it’s a complex dish that’s highlighted with sprouts, basil, mint, and cilantro.
Another great place for ramen in River North is Ramen-San. Located on Hubbard Street in the Dining District, it’s one of Lettuce Entertain You’s newest ventures. They offer the traditional tonkotsu, but they also go a little off the beaten path with a Korean-American fusion bowl of kimchi and fried chicken. The casual vibe makes this a cool spot in one of the city’s hottest neighborhoods.
Ramen’s no longer just a college staple, that’s pho-sure. These are our favorites in River North and the South Loop. Let us know yours on Twitter and Facebook.