Cheap Eats 2012: Ren’s Ramen

If you made a habit of tanking down dried, processed ramen in college, you might have a hard time thinking of the stuff as worthy of an entire restaurant, let alone a spot on this list. But one slurp from these tureen-like bowls and you’ll be persuaded otherwise. The broths are rich and full of umami flavor, and the noodles, imported from Sapporo, have the springy, chewy properties of all good pasta. There’s an array of toppings—including extra roast pork, braised egg, and seaweed—to augment your bowl, but you don’t need them.

Instant gratification is easy—you can find that at any fast-food chain. Instant restoration? Now, that’s something to celebrate.

Also good: Miso ramen; shoyu ramen, a soy sauce-based broth.

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