(Clockwise from left) Aya Cookhouse’s ramen with vegetarian broth and fixin’s, Stereo 8’s jam-packed dish, and a bowful from 2 Nixons; Photographs (3) by Ruta Elvikyte
February 10, 2016
Brrr, we’ve got some chilly days ahead! That means it’s perfect weather for warming up with a piping-hot serving of ramen—and not the instant variety. For the best bowls of umami goodness, head to these top local spots
written by Allston McCrady
1) 2 Nixons Location: Pop-up spots vary but include Craft & Conundrum (630 Skylark Dr.) tonight from 4-9 p.m. The draw: For the most creative ramen in Charleston, chef Jeffrey Stoneberger obsesses about every detail, especially the toasted wheat noodles. “Preparing them by hand is extremely difficult in Charleston’s humidity,” he says. For consistency, Stoneberger has his own recipe made by the folks at Sun Noodles—the same outfit that supplies noodle heavyweights David Chang and Ivan Orkin. Don’t miss: Innovative broths incorporating ingredients like local blue crab and benne seeds More info:twitter.com/2nixons
2) Two Boroughs Larder
Location: 186 Coming St. The groundwork: Josh and Heather Keeler had a craving for ramen in 2011. But when they couldn’t find the perfect bowl, they set about creating one for themselves. Per Josh, “It took about six months to get the durum flour eggless noodles right. We broke three Kitchenaids trying to do it!” DIY: The pork-based dish hooks diners up daily, but Thursdays offer a wider selection of ingredients for build-your-own bowls for build your own bowls. More info:twoboroughslarder.com
3) Aya Cookhouse
Location: 915 Houston Northcutt Blvd., Mount Pleasant Go for: The time intensive pork-based tonkotsu broth on the dinner menu, adapted from an old family recipe Order up: Wednesday is $5 Ramen Night; choose from a vegetarian shiitake-mushroom-based broth, salt broth (shio), soy broth (soya), tonkotsu, and a red miso broth. Then add shrimp, fried chicken, pork, or tofu, plus fresh veggies. More info:ayacookhouse.com
4) Stereo 8
Location: 951 Folly Rd., James Island Layer by layer: At this music-driven eatery, the ramen broth takes two days to make and involves a long (really long) list of staged ingredients. Add to that crispy pork, shiitakes, green onions, sprouts, cilantro, and a soft egg, and you’ve got a kickin’ bowl of flavor. The inspiration: Chef Matthias Quinn Gerke’s broth is a recreation of those he enjoyed at ramen houses while growing up on the West Coast. “I carried the taste memory with me for years,” he says. More info:stereo8restaurant.com
5) Xiao Bao Biscuit
Location: 224 Rutledge Ave.
The story: Chef Josh Walker visited Tokyo and drew inspiration from “the younger generation of chefs putting their own spin on ramen.” A new spin: Despite an ever-changing menu, noodle bowls make regular winter appearances. “This year, we’re working with ingredients from local Fili-West Farms to develop a light broth with a touch of miso and tempura-fried chicken on the side.” More info:xiaobaobiscuit.com
To read about additional spots serving up tasty noodle bowls, click here.
For more stories from our February 2016 issue, click here.