Main image courtesy of Monta Ramen. Updated on Nov 7th, ’22, and July 11th, ’23
If you are on vacation in LV, you probably had a night of bad decisions, although if you are a local, locals are not immune.
When I am in Vegas, as a Japanese American, I get off the strip, particularly when hungover, and I want to eat my Asian peoples food. For that, my goto area is Spring Mountain/Chinatown (not just Chinese food) for either pho or ramen, especially miso ramen with a side of chahan (fried rice).
To help make life easier on you, I have broken all of the Las Vegas ramen shops down into three categories: 1. Japanese-style, 2. Japanese American, and 3. Americanized ramen.Spring Mountain is the epicenter of a lot of it, the Asian hood of Vegas.
Three categories explained in relation to Mexican and gringo food, just cuz
More people are familiar with Mexican food, so I will break down the ramen shop differences as it relates to Mexican/Chicano cuisine cuz why not, they’re my peoples too.
I always wonder how most large mainstream media/corporate sites create their “top 10-20 best ramen Las Vegas spots” because they tend to lump all Asians together as the same. Well, brah, we are not all the same foo, so I am breaking it all down to how I see it.I almost said “we,” but I did not want to speak on behalf of my Asian peoples because I don’t want my card revoked.
I base all three categories on previous visits, Yelp, and Google reviews, along with the pictures (this is why it takes me sometimes hours to decide on what to eat).
Taqueria level bro, so not just carne asada, but lengua to tripas on a soft tortilla (fresh tortillas are a game changer). All topped off with cebolla, cilantro, and a squeeze of limon.
The ramen is almost on par with the above minus the love for tripas, lengua, and buche, with some Chipotle and fusion vibes creeping in.
As Mexican as Taco Bell is, and if you don’t agree, let me know next time you are in Mexico how your search went for the best cheesy gordita crunch.
New ramen ya!
Unfortunately closed, but I hope to find out what happened because they have a 4.9 on Yelp and Google.
The owners of Ramen Zero, the Maruyama’s reached out to me let me know that they just opened where Ramen Arashi used to be after their closure in May.
They do not cite the use of of saba/katsuo/niboshi in their Tokyo Shoyu:
“Clear Chicken Broth + Soy Sauce Base,” but it would be expected to see it in a shoyu ramen.
This is sort of hilarious because I cited salad greens/raw spinach, corn, and naruto as being Americanized, BUT Ramen Zero is the exception to that rule because they use naruto right.Naruto is a fish cake, so don’t go looking up the anime and is only in the Tokyo shoyu ramen. That is because a fish stock is typically part of the base ingredients and it complements each other.
Anybody who cooks or knows ramen or food, will know the Latino influence of lemon, cilantro, and cebolla in the tan tan men which is a legit fusion (this reminds me of what you would see in da 808, especially amongst the Nihonjins). So, I do not have to try Ramen Zero to know that they are a legit new spot by the Maruyama’s who I think are husband and wife, plus I saw that Mitsunori’san and Keizo follow them (sucks, normally I’m in Vegas now, due to the SEMA show).
Also, another crazy thing, I just checked out their Instagram, and this business was located where my business was located in San Jose, California, right next door to Mitsuwa (was it Biagini properties? I forget). They are in the same space I was in, in the mid to late 90’s, wow, crazy (even crazier if they lived across the street at Park Kiely (mmmh, JC’s Famous BBQ, basic but good).
One other thing, why am I hyping Ramen Zero? Because they are hustling, they engage (via email and on social media), they are putting in the work from video, product photography, PR, etc., they deserve the support, nuff said brah. Now go check them out and let me know what you think.
The epitome of Japanese ramen focuses on craft broths, noodles, and minimal (complementary) toppings because you really do not need much when the noodles and the broth are a labor of love.On the other hand, in the US, it’s big business to capitalize on the popularity of ramen with basic instant ramen kits to restauranteurs.
The Best Japanese Style Ramen
The lines between Japanese and Japanese-American in Vegas are blurred, but I tried to cite the ones that are the closest to Japanese ramen.These are closer to Japanese American style ramen, but “hey, close enough”
For the closest experience to Japan or Japanese ramen, these are the ramen shops you will want to try because their primary focus is on ramen. Keep in mind these spots are not straight out of Fukuoka or Tokyo, and they will have American influences because of Murica.
In Costa Mesa/Newport Beach, we had a place called Ken Ramen (they unfortunately closed) which occupied an old Taco Bell and was started by an employee of Monta Ramen.He was surprised when I said, “oh, this is Monta,” because their taste is that distinctive.
The Best Japanese-American Style Ramen
These ramen shops represent Japanese food and ramen because they can locate Japan on a map. That might sound like a low bar, but the vast majority of restaurants are not Japanese-owned or operated, so it’s great to see when ramen is done right.The challenge of doing a Japanese ramen in the US would go unappreciated by most when restaurant suppliers supply frozen ramen kits. So I do not fault a business to be a more Americanized.
Like Japanese style ramen, but with American/fusion influences such as corn and raw spinach cuz “colorful.” Except like the above criteria, the primary focus is also on ramen, but with appetizers to teriyaki chicken on the menu.
CafeSanuki.com / 4821 Spring Mountain Rd Suite G
This place is a udon (made in-house) spot with ramen, Americanized sushi rolls, rice bowls, and real tempura (a lot of restaurants use frozen/shrimp tempura).
Enzaramen.com / 16 N Stephanie St, Henderson
They tout themselves as “worlds best ramen,” mixed in with bulgogi, K-pop, jajangmen (Chinese/Korean dish, but I expect this to be the Korean version), fried rice, and tonkotsu ramen/ramyun.
FB/HashiRamen / 5808 Spring Mountain Rd #109,
A maaaaassive ramen bar with tonkotsu and tori paitan and tantanmen! They also make their own noodles and menma, so you have to respect Chef/owner Youngho and Eunyoung Kim.
Ichi Ramen House
Omoide Noodle & Bowls
Show Ramen 2
ShokkuRamen.com / 3889 Spring Mountain Rd,
Cool website and interior, locations in Houston and Nashville, rice bowls, fusion ramen, and fried rice, oh and One-piece (manga). They also have a very talented person doing their vids, motion graphics, videography, to editing.
Soru Ramen Sushi and Boba Milk Tea
Tomo Noodles & Dumplings
Americanized Style Ramen
This style consists of either instant generic ramen broth, along with a combination of more ingredients the better (a bukkakefest), especially if they are colorful (corn, spinach/salad greens, and naruto).As opposed to Japanese ramen which is less is more, like nigiri vs. sushi rolls.
Just like pizza, sushi, to Mexican food in the US, there are also Americanized versions of ramen. These fusion spots are a mixture of Chinese, Thai, to Korean (Asian) influences. So aside from ramen, they will also offer sushi, curry, karaage, tempura, teriyaki, takoyaki, poke, bulgogi, fried rice, to tonkatsu (they do it all).
Ichiddo Ramen / CLOSED
Henderson, is a Minnesota-based ramen restaurant doing Chinese “char siu,” egg rolls, calamari, and beef and Korean kimchi ramen (this is ramen?).
Moko Ramen Bar
Ohjah Noodle House
Ramen Katana Ya
This site is amazing and they have some talented artists on board: Ramen icons created by Triberion – Flaticon