LOCATION: 319 Main Street, Salt Lake City, UT 84111
I feel like going to find ramen spots is a penchant that my friend Tina and I have when we’re hanging out. We did the same thing when we were living in the D.C. area, when we stopped into a ramen bar in D.C.’s Chinatown called Daikaya. So this time around, when I was spending some time out there in Salt Lake City, we ventured into downtown to check out a spot called Ramen Bar.
The place had garnered some pretty positive reviews, so Tina and I decided to give it a shot. When walking up to the restaurant, it looks relatively unassuming from the outside, aside from the modern text that makes up the name across the top. Inside, it was actually a pretty cozy place, with several different two- and four-person tables set up along with the bar top at the back of the restaurant. At full capacity, the restaurant could probably accommodate about 30 people.
Ramen-wise, you had seven different options to choose from, stemming mostly from either a pork bone broth or chicken broth base. I decided to stick with my usual choice of the tonkotsu ramen, which had the rich pork bone broth, pork belly, soft-boiled egg, corn, scallions, menma, and nori. I also opted for my usual move of getting some extra pork belly added on as well. Tina went with the tantan tonkotsu (same ingredients as mine, with the addition of some spicy ground pork), and we also decided to get two of their snack plates as well for appetizers: spicy wings and gyoza.
With us eating closer to 1:00 p.m. that day, I guess we were on the back end of their lunchtime crowd, since there were only a handful of other people in the restaurant when we were eating. This ended up helping to get our food coming out of the kitchen in a relatively quick pace.
The wings and gyoza were up first, arriving no more than five minutes after we ordered. I took a bite into one of the wings and was pretty disappointed. They were all stone cold, and had a rubbery texture to them. This told me that they had probably been sitting for a little while. As for the gyoza, I thought they were pretty tasty, fried up so that they had a nice crispy texture on the outside. The spicy mayo it was served with also helped give it a bit of a kick as well.
The ramen was next up, and they were exactly what we needed on a cold Utah day. Both of the bowls were pretty sizeable, with the toppings quite plentiful as well. But after one sip of the ramen broth, it was clear that was the true star of the dish. The rich, layered umami flavor from the bone broth helped to elevate everything else inside the bowl, starting with the noodles all the way to the slices of pork belly sitting at the top. The pork belly was able to soak up all of that flavor and at the same time get tenderized so that when you took a bite, it practically melted in your mouth. It made me very glad that I put in that extra order of the pork belly with my ramen.
Tina and I had set out to try and find some good ramen, and I think it’s safe to say that we were very successful. The rich flavor infused by the ramen broth was the undoubtable star of the dish, and the supporting cast of ingredients were able to shine as well. The only sour note was the experience with the spicy wings, but hopefully that was more of an aberration rather than the normal. If you’re on the lookout for some ramen while in the downtown Salt Lake City area, look no further than Ramen Bar.
Let’s now take a look at the Ramen Bar Dish Spotlight. Asterisks (*) below mark my recommended dishes.
And finally, here are my rankings for Ramen Bar:
Food: 4.25 / 5
A very strong showing from the ramen itself, both in flavor and quality, helps to keep this rating on the high end, despite the negative experience from the spicy wings. There’s also a good variety of ramen choices to select from, turning subsequent visits into opportunities to branch out.
Atmosphere: 4.25 / 5
The industrial theme was evident in the dining space, with one entire wall made up of bricks along with part of the bar top in the back of the restaurant. A black paint scheme for the walls and dining furniture also added a slight bit of a “hole-in-the-wall” type of feel to the place.
Service: 4.5 / 5
Ray did a great job as our waiter for the meal. He was very personable and helped to answer some questions we had on the menu. We also weren’t kept waiting for our food for very long, with both the appetizers as well as the ramen coming out of the kitchen quickly.
Price: 4.5 / 5
The portion sizes of the ramen bowls were very good for the pricing, with plenty of ingredients as well as broth. For the quality of the ramen, those price points are something that I’d certainly be happy to pay.