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Monster Ramen and Akahoshi Ramen – NBC Chicago

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Monster Ramen and Akahoshi Ramen – NBC Chicago


Ramen is one of Japan’s best-known exports, but that bowl of noodles, broth and toppings is more complicated than its appears.

Two ramen shops in Logan Square are taking two very distinctive approaches, yet both are laser focused on every component going into the bowl. Steve Dolinsky joining us tonight with the story.

There is a lot of pork bone broth in the ramen world. But two excellent shops are making do using beef and chicken, and both are obsessive about making their noodles in-house.

There’s plenty of unapologetic slurping throughout the night at Monster Ramen, a year-and-a-half old ramen shop in Logan Square. It’s a dream come true for Katie Dong, who grew up in China on beef noodle soup, but perfected her ramen technique at Japanese shops. The focus here is on beef stock.

“It’s more velvety and it’s actually lighter than pork bone stock,” said Dong.

The stock is made in just a couple of hours in a custom pressure cooker. There’s also a clear, shoyu ramen on the menu featuring chicken stock, but her signature Monster Ramen is a beefy bonanza.

“The beef paitan, creamy stock, with our miso flavor. A couple slices of the wagyu chashu and a couple slices of the wagyu rib roast.”

Plus bamboo, mushroom, seaweed and buttery corn, all swimming above springy, homemade noodles that were made in-house earlier in the day.

“I’m really just looking to make sure the portion feels like the right size…”

A half mile away, Mike Satinover makes two types of noodles in the front window of his brand-new Akahoshi Ramen on California, where lines form well before 5 o’clock, and for good reason. He’s been obsessed for 13 years, ever since studying abroad.

“Hokkaido – Sapporo, Hokkaido is known for miso ramen. It’s one of the dishes that emerges from there,” said Satinover.

He says there are five components to ramen:

“There’s the noodle of course, but there’s the soup. There’s the tare, which seasons the soup in the bowl; there’s the aromatic oil and there’s the toppings. Balancing all five is the tricky part.”

The signature bowl begins with bean sprouts tossed into a hot wok with lard; then the tare, or miso paste.

“Then we add the soup to the wok, pour it into the bowl over the noodles that we’ve prepared, which are a special type of noodle specifically designed for this dish. We have pork belly chashu that we make which is just pork belly that’s been simmered very slowly until it’s meltingly tender, a little bit of green onion and bamboo shoots,” he said.

There’s a soupless ramen that looks like Dan Dan Noodles – topped with seasoned ground pork and bok choy – it’s amazing. But to really appreciate his handiwork, seeing the effort that goes into each component is impressive.

“When you make a dish like this – truly from scratch – each of the components is intentional,” said Satinover.

Here’s where you can visit:

Monster Ramen

3435 W. Fullerton Ave.

Akahoshi Ramen

2340 N. California Ave.



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