The options for ramen in Seattle are not that vast. And we’re not talking about the stuff you get at the grocery. This ramen is balanced in it’s salt and savoriness. The noodles have great flavor and is nothing like that prepackaged stuff. This is ramen to really enjoy and seek out. So far there are two really good places that have been talked about often on the internet; Samurai Noodle and Tsukushinbo. I’ve been to both, and I must say I’m leaning towards Tsukushinbo. Their ramen is awesome.
I first learned of Tsukushinbo via Jay Friedman’s post on Seattlest. This got my curiosity going. Then he posted a bit more of an in-depth article on his Gastrolust site. This was the tipping point to make me go. It was a great write-up to describe the noodles and the limited quantities (word off the street they only serve 20 bowls) of Tsukushinbo’s ramen on Fridays. Armed with this we went for lunch on Friday.
Tsukushinbo is located at the intersection of 5th and Main on the North Side of Jackson in the ID. If you’re familiar with Maneki, it’s right around the corner. Tsukushinbo only serves their ramen on Fridays as a lunch special and it’s in demand. They open at 11:45 and we got there about 10 minutes shy of opening to see a line already starting. By the time the door opened, it was about 15 deep. Stepping into the place you’ll notice that it’s very cozy; about eight tables and a sushi bar – the space fits about 35 people. We sidled up to the bar, because it’s always the best place to sit in any restaurant, especially a sushi bar.
About the ramen. It’s decidedly different than the ramen at Samurai Noodle. Samurai’s ramen is tonkatsu in style, so it’s very rich from a long simmering and has a creamy unctuousness that can be very filling. Tsukushinbo’s ramen is shoyu, which was something that just felt better on my palate. It had a delicate lightness that balanced nicely with the salt and savory package (think clear broth). It was so good that I kept wanting to drink it. The other ingredients were nicely done as well. A nice piece of pork, some bamboo shoots, and green onions all played well with the broth and noodles. But the thing that put it over the top for me was the piece of nori that came with it. With this bite I was in ramen heaven. Nori is pure umami, and this blast of flavor created a uniqueness that I really liked.
For $7.50 you get a great bowl of soup. Plus, it also comes with a bowl of rice and three pieces of gyoza. And it’s really good gyoza. Seared perfectly and full of flavor, it’s a great add on with your lunch. But go for the ramen and you won’t be disappointed. Just get there early. And make sure to visit on their other days too. I can’t wait to go back and try their udon, katsu, sushi… So much food, so little time.