One Bite: Katsu's kani ramen | Bleader

Thursday, January 12, 2012

One Bite: Katsu's kani ramen

Posted By on 01.12.12 at 01:24 PM

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kani ramen, Katsu
In my otherwise positive review of Takashi Yagihashi's "izakaya" Slurping Turtle this week, I tried to position the noodles in the relatively middling galaxy of Chicago ramen. In doing so I failed to mention perhaps the most interesting and delicious bowl of ramen to be had within the city limits.

Fortunately, Friend of the Food Chain, Reader contributor, and uncompromising ramaniac Rob Lopata has already reported on the gargantuan $17 crab-based kani ramen to be had at Katsu, one of the city's best Japanese restaurants, which, by virtue of its unfashionable location, rarely gets mentioned in the same breath as say, Arami, but definitely should be.

Katsu's off-menu kani ramen is every bit as deep and soulful as he claims, a gigantic bowl of frothy red miso broth loaded with blue crabs, chives, carrots, and bean sprouts—lightly spiked with chiles. The noodles are nothing spectacular, being outsourced (like those in every other bowl of ramen in town), but they are tensile and springy, not overcooked, and a damn sight better than most. Chef-owner Katsu claims his recipe is unique. I'm not sure what makes it so, but I'm certain you can't get anything like it in Chicago. The closest analog might be the Korean-Chinese jampong, but this is far more refined.

Katsu ramen, Katsu

It's obvious Katsu-san takes lot of pride in all his ramen varieties. The house Katsu ramen, a shoyu-style bowl with a big fried pork cutlet floater, is particularly good too. According to Katsu's wife, they simmer chicken bones for two to three days for their base stock, which might be why the ramen is so pricey. But it's not a bad value at all. It's not like you're going to go to Katsu and not order some spectacular fish—that would be crazy. But anchoring a meal with one of these superb bowls and a few select pieces of sashimi is a great way to experience this special place without breaking the bank.

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