Ramen is a Japanese specialty beloved by many and mastered by few. Tender noodles in hot broth with a layering of nori, soft-boiled egg, sprouts and spices is an artful combination that can be enjoyed just about any hour of the day (it’s also a great hangover cure). The following places have it down to a science, with some hand-making their own noodles and simmering the broth for days. It’s the closest you’ll get to the real thing outside of Japan and if your only ramen experience has been the prepackaged instant variety, it will change your outlook forever. Listed in alphabetical order.
Lettuce Entertain You’s foray into the ramen game offers both traditional and unorthodox noodle varieties. Open until 12 a.m. (or 1 a.m. on Saturdays), it’s the ideal spot to drop in for late-night, lip-smacking bowls that feature tonkotsu and shio broths as well as a kimchi and fried chicken ramen. Drop in during the day, between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m., for a $15 express lunch deal that includes ramen, a rice plate and cucumber salad.