Minneapolis Magazine recently listed 2016 as the Year of the Ramen I thought I would venture out and hit up the newest establishment, Ramen Kazama. As a recently former resident of the Lyn/Lake neighborhood I am no stranger to Ramen from Moto-i or what used to be Ramen Wednesdays at Fuji-Ya – the chef of the latter now housed in this restaurant.
Word of warning: do not go to Ramen Kazama with a large group, as a first date, or to spend time catching up with friends. If you want to eat something and then head over to another facility then we recommend eating here then heading over to a place like Pat’s Tap after to complete the night.
With a nod to the ramen shops in Japan you order everything before entering the dining area and then find a place to sit with your number and wait. While this is good in theory, the seating area does not currently fit the demand that this place has. It fills quickly (and are few tables that can fit more than two), and the orders are still received – causing many to sit in the entryway or nearby benches holding tightly onto their numbers in hopes that a table opens up before their food is delivered. The tables and benches are haphazard and the decor is either too kitschy or some failed attempts at Pinterest ideas but you really cannot stay in the room for too long to notice anyways.
The ramen bowls are absolutely delicious, and I have been back enough after the first visit to try them all. I was first in line at opening at one visit (lineup began at 4:45) and after the order was taken it was just under 10 minutes before the bowl came, so consider that to be the fastest that they may come. Since ramen is a new concept to the people of the midwest I would recommend watching the first episode of mind of a chef on PBS with David Chang to get an idea of what you are getting into and preempt yourself with some better judgement as to what you want to order when you get to the counter- it makes a difference to cater to your tastebuds.
Ramen is generally three parts to rate (consider it like a burger is the bread, the meat and the toppings), the broth, the noodles and the additions. The broth in every soup is rich and savory, filling and perfectly subtle in their flavors. The noodles provide for the proper slurp and a train like track to bring the broth up with it to your mouth. While the karaage is the only out of place addition (it’s too large for its intention) the eggs are all soft boiled and runny, the pork belly is tender and the bamboo has all the right flavors.
The appetizers and sides are a part that you can pass, items like karaage appear in one of their bowls and the kimchi cup has but a fluttering few pieces of cabbage on it. The real star of the show is the Ramen and that is what you should get.
Overall, this is a wonderful place to go if you want to see why people are raving about what ramen can bring to Minneapolis – especially if you are feeling like being adventurous on your own or with a special friend.
Food: 4.5/5 Ramen is wonderful, with limited options and par-like sides.
Drink: 2/5 Few taps and options, but unless you sit at their small bar no service or time to enjoy.
Atmosphere: 1/5 Rushed and minimal, they should expand or satellite their kitchen.
Overall: 3/5 Come in for the food, but go immediately somewhere else, which is unfortunate.