Monday, October 24, 2011

Ren's Ramen

I've been on a serious ramen kick lately. From Toki Underground to People's Noodle Bar, I can't get enough. When Tom Sietsema's Fall Dining Guide was released, I scanned the pages for a new place to fill my noodle needs. Luckily, Tom recommended Ren's Ramen in the far away land of Wheaton.

It just so happens that our Ultimate Frisbee team plays frequently in Wheaton. While B would rather drive straight home after a game to shower, stretch, and watch TV, I appreciate that he went along with my zany post-game noodle plan.

Thank goodness Ren's Ramen is casual because we definitely were not sporting our Sunday best. They didn't bat an eye as we took a seat in the small restaurant in our jerseys and shorts.

If the name sounds familiar, Ren's used to be located in the Daruma Japanese Market in Bethesda, but closed that location and opened the Wheaton location earlier this year.

We started things off with the only appetizer on the menu: a five piece set of juicy pork gyoza (dumplings). They were good but have already run together in my mind with the zillions of other gyoza we've had. Nothing particularly memorable about them.

The special ramen of the day was a spicy miso ramen. I love spicy almost as much as I love noodles, so I was all over it. To kick things up a few notches, I ordered extra ramen and a seasoned boiled egg from the list of "add ons."

From the standard menu, B ordered the Sapporo-style Miso Ramen with extra ramen and the daily special add on... pork belly.

Both bowls of ramen were fantastic. The broth was well-seasoned and the noodles had a distinctly chewy texture, which held up well in the bubbling bath of pork broth. For me, the addition of bean sprouts is a bit of a drawback, but B liked the texture contrast they provided. We thought it a bit odd that the "extra" ramen came out on a plate on the side instead of in the bowl. By the time I got my bowl empty enough to add more ramen, the noodles had stuck together into a tangled mass.

The portions were definitely large enough without the extra noodles. I ended up taking half of my ramen home for lunch the next day.

While I've loved all the ramen we've been eating lately, if you forced me to rank them I would say:
  1. Toki Underground

  2. Ren's Ramen

  3. People's Noodle Bar
Anyone have a suggestion for a fourth place to add to our rotation?

Second Thought from B

Last time we wrote about ramen I equated a bowl of noodles to sex and marriage. I'm going to keep it a little more tame this time but that doesn't mean I'm less enthusiastic about Ren's Ramen.

Two things come to mind when I reflect on our trip to Ren's. First, the texture of the noodles. Everyone's preference is a bit different but in my humble noodle-eating opinion, these noodles found the perfect balance of soft and chewy. The second thing I remember would be the amount of noodles. After bringing out a sizeable bowl of ramen that was not wanting for anything, the extra plate of noodles showed up. This was a comically large amount of food that would make Lady and the Tramp proud.

So if I can play Dr. Frankenstein for a moment, here's my perfect bowl of ramen. Ren's chewy noodles, People's heart-warming broth, and the creative zing of Toki's spices and add ons. But since we don't have to choose one, I'm thrilled to have 3 fantastic options!
Ren's Ramen on Urbanspoon

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