Last week I tried out downtown Raleigh’s Tonbo Ramen restaurant. Dang that was a great experience. Yeah, Ramen places are kinda trendy as of late, however, this place knocked it out of the park.
That's a good thing because the Raleigh food scene is discerning. In the past decade I've seen a ton of places come and go. And also at the same time, the quality of places coming here have gotten better and more in line with what the locals crave.
A couple of month ago, at the inaugural food and beverage festival, Thrive NC, I had a taste of Tonbo Ramen. I was so wowed by the flavor of the broth and the overall taste, that I added it to my ever-growing list of restaurants to visit soon. Well it took me this long to finally check it out but I'm glad I did.
The secret to a good Ramen soup broth is the amount of time spent cooking it. Of course ingredients matter too, but the length of time spent to develop the base, the very thing that brings the dish together and makes it worthwhile to eat, is the broth. The Tonbo Ramen chef spends over 20 hrs making the broth. Hmmm, and to think that the last thing I cooked required 20 minutes of simmering and constant stirring... and I was regretting even starting it. Ugh! Clearly my talent is to eat the things, not to make the things.
The dish I got was called Shoyu. It contained pork, broccoli rabe, pickled carrots, a soy marinated soft-boiled egg, scallions, and shrimp dumplings. Talk about comfort food, it was perfect.
But wait, I totally didn't even realize until checking their website at the time of writing this blog post, that they also have an upstairs where there's an Izakaya bar. It's what they call their own version of a Japanese speakeasy. There they serve cocktails and small plates. I'll be sure to check that out on my next visit, which I have a feeling will be sooner than later. Soup's on!!