Openings

Cheat Sheet: Brendan Sodikoff’s High Five Ramen

By Sarah Freeman  |  May 21, 2014

The Gist: Brendan Sodikoff’s 16-seat ramen joint below Green Street Smoked Meats opened last night. It serves two types of ramen: a spicy tonkotsu or a special clam dashi with hama hama clams.

The Vibe: After descending into the dark cavern, it takes a while for your eyes to adjust and your ears to recognize that the pounding bass is music. Once you're acclimated, High Five Ramen is a sensory utopia. The small kitchen prepares four bowls at a time of smoldering hot ramen - hot in temperature and hot in spiciness. They are quickly whisked to diners at the bar, who are nursing oversized cans of Japanese beer and sake. The room is just bright enough to see the pools of chile oil floating on top of the rich both. Light enters through bulletproof glass windows that have been painted over with purple paint. Exposed-brick walls and rafters further emphasizes the dirty-basement vibe converted into a too-cool-for-school ramen shop.

The Crowd: The line equaled the amount of seats in the restaurant within minutes of opening. The people in that line were a mix of ramen fanatics, including several Japanese natives testing Sodikoff’s chops, as well as in-the-know foodies.

Eat This: The house ramen is spicy, almost too spicy, with a combination of Sichuan peppercorns and Japanese chiles to create a sweltering, numbing heat. The menu warns, “there may be pain, suffering, sweating, discomfort and a creeping feeling of deep regret that is followed by a pure sensory euphoria.” This descriptor is surprisingly accurate, but what it leaves out is that the intense heat overpowers the delicate black-garlic oil, local bean sprouts, fresh scallions and seasoned egg. Opt for the half-spice ramen to fully enjoy the combination of rich tonkotsu broth with slow-roasted pork belly and toothsome alkaline noodles.

Drink This: Hot ramen and cold beer is a match made in heaven. In this case, the beer is Asahi Super Dry, a popular choice in ramen shops around Japan. The crisp, light brew is served in a “Canzilla,” or a 1,000-ml can, for $12.

Skip This: The Yuzu Last Word is a slushie cocktail served in a ceramic skull or urchin mug designed by one of Maude’s bartenders. However, the sweet and tart concoction can’t cut the spice of the ramen.

For Fans Of: Oiistar, Green Street Smoked Meats, Slurping Turtle

The Damage: $24

The Verdict: Sodikoff strikes again with an upscale take on authentic ramen that fits his übertrendy, super-stylized interpretation of a Japanese ramen shop.

112 N. Green St. (entrance down the alley through the first door on the left)

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  • High Five Ramen

    Tonkotsu with sliced pork belly, alkaline noodles, seasoned egg, black-garlic oil, bean sprouts and scallions

  • No-Spice Ramen

    The same as the High Five Ramen but made with a sweet miso broth

  • Special Ramen

    Clam dashi with hama hama clams, bean sprouts and garlic oil