Ramen Station

In a word: Almost all aboard.

The specs: #01026  
1124 S Park St., 53715
Details at Yelp, official web site, Facebook

Latest Ramen Station news and reviews

JM ate the curry chicken with a Mello Yello.
Nichole ate the shoyu ramen with a ginger cooler.
We split some bacon enoki mushroom skewers.
The bill was $31, or $15.50/person, plus tip.
JM and Nichole both gave Ramen Station a  B+ (see our grading rubric).

Ramen Station is very unassuming.  Its location was once a Cousins Subs, and while everything has been replaced and the dining room is well-appointed, nothing here is too ostentatious or gaudy. The emphasis is on the simple rather than the blatant, but with character.

Ramen Station seems to have a deeper menu (than Madison's other Japanese restaurants) of 'things Westerners have not likely tried.' This did cause JM a small amount of dithering, but Nichole appreciated the choices available. One wonders if this was perhaps more like comfort food - none of that touristy stuff.

Bacon enoki mushroom skewers

Nichole's ginger cooler was nice and, well, cool. It arrived shortly before our wonderful bacon and mushroom skewers.  These were hot upon arrival but were consumed in short order. Each bite was a wonderful chewy balance between the stringy, earthy mushrooms, and the bacon, which was exactly like a nice chewy piece of bacon.  Plus they smelled really good.

Chicken curry

JM eschewed ramen this time in favor of the curry chicken kotsu. (He didn't want any surprises lurking just beneath the top of the broth.) The curry flavor was unparalleled and the chicken was quite well prepared, but there were a lot of veggies, like potatoes, that felt like filler given the relative amount.  Nichole overheard another table being informed that sauce was from a packet.  Who knows?

Nichole got the same meal she tried at Ramen Kid, which allowed her to compare and contrast.  On the plus side here were the noodles, which were more substantial and less likely to flop around.  Sadly, though, the pork and, more importantly, the broth was better at the Kid.

Shoyu ramen

Will there be more additions to Madison's ramen scene?  It seems possible, given that neither of the two locations we visited needed a large footprint and both seemed to have enough customers. You can certainly get full on a bowl of soup here.

Ramen Kid

In a word: Here's lookin' at ramen...

The specs: #01025  
461 W Gilman St., 53703
Details at Yelp, official web site, Facebook, Twitter

Latest Ramen Kid news and reviews

JM ate the tonkotsu.
Nichole ate the shoyu.
The bill was $21, or $10.50/person, plus tip.
JM and Nichole both gave Ramen Kid an A- (see our grading rubric).

The past three years have seen a ramen explosion (which, side note, is also what you cal lit when when the noodles slip from your mouth back into the bowl) in the Madison area. We even had to hit back-to-back ramen places and it felt like a little mini-run, just like Pizza and China were.

Ramen Kid was the first stop on our mini-ramen-run. It's in the old Lava Lounge space on Gilman which means there's a long narrow dining room. JM's not sure just how Anglo he looked, but he was seated at a table with forks instead of chopsticks. (This was the right call, as it turned out.) We dithered very briefly over the menu, ordered, and got our food in less time than we'd been dithering. If splashy ramen works as a lunch for you, you'll get it fast enough provided you can eat it fast enough.

Nichole's shoyu was exceptionally tasty, with a clear broth and peppery pork.

Shoyu ramen

Nichole also got to eat the egg out of JM's tonkotsu, which featured an opaque, rich broth - slightly greasy, slightly garlicky, and super messy. JM liked the mushrooms in particular. The curly noodles were also very good.

Pork tonkotsu

Ramen Kid fits as a downtown venue - it's pretty reasonable and mostly peopled by students. Certainly you get a good bowl of ramen here, even if you have to use a fork to fish out the noodles.


Madison Food coverOur book Madison Food: A History of Capital Cuisine is out. More about it here. Read an excerpt on Carson Gulley and some bonus bits on Porchlight, Argus, Sunshine Supper, and Babcock.


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