Smallman Galley, 2016 Smallman Street – The Strip District
Chef Rafael Vencio offers two kinds of ramen at his incubator shop in the Smallman Galley: a Pork Belly Ramen and a Shrimp Ramen. Both are made with wonton noodles, scallions, sprouts, shiitake, nori seaweed and sesame oil. I like the fresh taste of all the vegetables in this delicious broth. The creamy egg on the Pork Belly ramen here was perfect.
202 38th St. / Side Door – Lawrenceville
Umami features a Tonkotsu Ramen with pork shoulder, bamboo shoots, a perfectly-cooked 5-minute, 10-second egg, scallion and nori. They also serve a Miso Ramen and a selection of umami-inspired add-ons and that is definitely my favorite thing about the ramen here. You can ramp up the umami taste just the way you want it. Most of the menu at Umami is focused on robatayaki, sushi and other street foods dedicated to umami flavors.
815 S. Aiken Ave. – Shadyside
The recently opened izakaya from Mike Chen of Everyday Noodles features four different kinds of ramen on the menu with the choice of either Udon or Soba noodles. This is where your noodle preference really comes in. I’m not used to those noodle options for ramen so it seemed a little different for me, but other people might like it. Tan Miso Ramen and Tan Shoyu Ramen feature seaweed, corn, BBQ pork, egg, tofu skin and green onion. Santouka Ramen is served with house special hot sauce and Los Angeles Ramen features crispy chicken.
Opening sometime around the start of the new year.
4402 Butler St. – Lawrenceville
The chefs from Ki Ramen, Domenic Branduzzi and Roger Li, recently held their first pop-up event for the restaurant on October 24th in a space above the Market St. Grocery in Market Square. You can read more about the plans for their upcoming Ramen house restaurant that will feature house-made noodles here. The patient people lining up for ramen at this event made me realize what an appetite there is for it here in Pittsburgh.
Chef Li has a history of putting together pop-up events prior to opening his restaurants as a way of honing his menu (as he did with Umami). Both chefs plan to use the same formula here engaging social media to get the word out about each event. Chef Li seemed very happy with the recent “Ramen at the Market” event: “The pop-up went really well. The space was awesome and the turnout was great. We’ll be announcing our next pop-up scheduled for mid-November in a location to be announced.” (Update: The second pop-up will be “Ramen at the Livermore” on November 21st from 6-10pm – The Livermore is located at 124 S. Highland Ave in East Liberty.) On a personal note, I’ll be continuing my ramen quest and lining up again for the next pop-up. It’s been two weeks and I’m still dreaming about the porcini-chili butter mixed in with the pork broth. Delicious—and I would happily stand in line for a big bowl again.