Despite Houston's nearly year-round steamy weather, locals still flock to ramen shops across town to slurp noodles and tip bowls of hot broth. The past several years have witnessed plenty of new openings too, which means getting that ramen fix is easier than ever. Here are the best ramen spots right now.
Colorful murals adorn the walls of this Montrose ramen house known for intense flavor combinations, creative sides and sake-based cocktails. Kick up the house pork, chicken and mushroom broths with "bombs" like corn with butter and honey; Thai chile and habanero paste; or yuzu, serrano, jalapeño and garlic.
Must-order: The "sweet and sour yodas" are an essential side of fried Brussels sprouts seasoned with sweet-tangy apricot vinegar and curry spice.
Insider tip: Large groups are encouraged thanks to long communal tables, and reservations are not required, but everyone must be present before ordering.
1722 California St.; 346-226-3253
A glass wall separates the dining room from the noodle-making machine, which churns out thin, straight wheat tonkotsu noodles and thick wavy egg noodles several times a week. The shop sources local ingredients whenever possible to pair with shouyu (clear chicken broth), tonkotsu (pork broth), tsukemen (cold dipping ramen) and vegan variations. Instead of an ongoing vat of broth, Samurai Noodle adds a secret flavor base directly to each bowl right before serving.
Must-order: Shouyu tonkotsu ramen blends pork and chicken broths over chewy wavy egg noodles topped with green onions and black mushrooms.
Insider tip: Check the specials board for flavor-packed options like spicy shouyu tonkotsu with hot garlic or mentaiko tonkotsu made "extra extra rich" by emulsified pollack roe in a traditional pork broth.
1801 Durham Dr. #2; 832-879-2982
Great for a quick, casual meal before or after bar hopping, this Washington Ave. spot offers a straightforward menu of Asahikawa-style pork broth in four flavors: original, spicy with housemade chile sauce, miso and spicy miso. Unlike other places that list endless toppings, Ninja offers pork belly, egg, bamboo shoots and green onions only. Choose from wavy egg noodles and thin wheat noodles sourced from Hawaiian company Sun Noodles and enjoy until 3 AM on Fridays and Saturdays (or until sold out).
Must-order: It takes 24 hours to prepare the pork bone broth used in the original ramen, which gives it a rich flavor that's enhanced by house chile sauce.
Insider tip: Running out of noodles is no big deal since the first refill is free and subsequent refills are only $1.50.
4219 Washington Ave.; 281-888-5873
Modern digs and a stellar sushi menu aren't the only reasons to visit this Upper Kirby favorite, which also serves ramen with two broth bases, one soy and one traditional pork. The tonkotsu ramen is available only during weekday lunch and is prepared using pork bones hammered apart and cooked for eight hours.
Must-order: Decadent oxtail ramen flavored with rich black garlic oil, dashi, soft-boiled egg, wakame and green onions
Insider tip: Reservations are highly recommended, even at lunch.
3600 Kirby Dr.; 713-526-8858
This cozy dining room inside a West Houston strip center offers four types of ramen, including tonkotsu, miso, shoyu (soy) and dry sesame, plus a small selection of snacks like Japanese-fried chicken, seaweed salad, pork dumplings and small rice bowls.
Must-order: It takes 12–13 hours to cook the broths, including the savory-creamy pork bone tonkotsu with pork belly, five-minute egg and wood ear mushrooms (additional toppings available).
Insider tip: To ensure freshness, there's a no-carryout policy for ramen.
11181 Westheimer Rd.; 713-278-8702
This hip Chinatown offering has been going strong since it opened in 2013 and boasts a variety of bowls with housemade noodles and 20-hour broth, including garlic black bean, original tonkotsu, miso and spicy miso.
Must-order: Tantan ramen presents varied flavors and textures thanks to minced pork, crunchy peanuts and hot chiles.
Insider tip: While the ramen gets plenty of press, the yakitori items prepared on the restaurant's robata charcoal grill are not to be overlooked.
9889 Bellaire Blvd.; 832-804-7755
Ideal for a lunch or late-night ramen fix, this Midtown hot spot (part of a national chain) gets lots of love for pork, chicken and vegetable-based bowls filled with housemade noodles aged three days. There’s even a vegan bowl.
Must-order: JINYA Tonkotsu Black brims with pork broth, pork chashu, kikurage, green onion, nori dried seaweed, seasoned egg, garlic chips, garlic oil, fried onion and spicy sauce with thin noodles.
Insider tip: The restaurant doesn't take reservations and waits can be an hour or more on busy nights.
3201 Louisiana St.; 832-925-8596
A vibrant black and red color scheme marks this West Side shop popular for lunch and dinner bowls of pork, chicken and vegetables.
Must-order: Classic Tokyo-style tonkotsu with creamy broth, tender pork chaschu, kikurage mushrooms, bamboo shoots and garlic oil
Insider tip: Noodle refills are only $1.50.
1801 S. Dairy Ashford Rd. Ste. 108; 281-531-7980
Ramen is the focus of this sleek Midtown stop where complex layered bowls enjoy a loyal following. House stock and pork stock serve as bases for additions like roasted pork, spinach, baby corn and seven-minute eggs. There’s even a broth prepared from brandy-cured foie gras.
Must-order: The one-of-a-kind spicy menudo ramen inspired by Mexican menudo, chock-full of thick egg noodles, fresh cilantro, onions, avocado, radishes and a 62-degree egg
Insider tip: Normally $12, all house ramens are only $8 during weekend brunch.
318 Gray St.; 713-527-8988