Ramen holds a special place in our hearts. Noodles and topping on their own become too dry, liquid broth nothing but a savoury hot drink. However when combined to make Ramen, the result is truly a thing of beauty. Salt, Protein, Umami, Carbs, Greens- Ramen has all you want (apart from Ice Cream) for a soul-nourishing meal. Ramen has truly taken over the world, with new Ramen restaurants  dried noodle packs filling the shelves of every world food aisle and becoming the essential item in any student’s pantry. Pho isn’t too far behind as it has been the driving force behind thrusting Vietnamese cuisine into the cultural limelight.

Sticks & Broth

Sticks & Broth opened in 2014 and is a prized jewel in the conglomerate of modern Asian restaurants (also including Khao and Bao and Hanoi Coffee Company) that have opened in around Baldwin Street. Stepping inside you feel as though you are entering the steam-punk vision of Tokyo from 1990s Manga film Akira, with huge fluffy chandeliers floating above like friendly UFOs and the cool chalkboard black walls overlaid with gorgeous murals displaying the clashes between old world and new in Japanese culture. There’s a list of amazing craft beers including the Japanese brand Hitachino Nest, but also Bristol favourites such as Wiper and True. Undoubtedly it’s the rich tonkotsu ramen that’s the reason to visit. Pork bones are cooked for 24 hours to create a milky broth, and it’s potent stuff. The noodles are mushy (the way the best ramen noodles are), slip right down and on top of them comes a range of stunning toppings including brisket, chashu pork, chicken and deep fried tofu alongside soft-boiled soy marinated eggs, bean sprouts, corn and toasted seaweed. It’s some of the best ramen in the South West, so slurp it up!

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Ramen Ya

Ramen Ya is as close to authentic Tokyo as you're going to find in Bristol. Heavily condensated windows obscure the restaurant's interior from the outside, which on a cold winter's evening is a welcome sight. Stepping inside the restaurant the first thing you see is a big broth-filled soup kettle where the steam emanates from. Paper lanterns adorn the ceilings gifting the shop a delightful glow, which certainly hands itself to the wholesome food they serve. The ramen comes in 3 different forms, tonkotsu, shoyu and spicy seafood, all of which come with an assortment of classic ramen toppings such as Black Fungus, Crispy Shallots, Bean Sprouts and a perfectly Soft Boiled 'Shoyu' egg. From the range of non noodle soup based options, Gyoza are crispy on the outside and tasty inside, while the steamed Bao buns really take a star turn. Despite being a relative newcomer into the buzzing Gloucester Road foodie scene, Ramen Ya has really hit the ground running and is certainly a must for all Bristol based japanophiles (shinnichi).

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Hanoi Coffee Company

A brisk walk across the road from sister restaurant Sticks & Broth, this modern take on a Vietnamese coffee shop zings with character, DIY counters are made from recycled wood while the menu is helpfully splattered across the wall. The pho is beautifully presented in a medium size bowl, thus meaning you avoid a 3pm broth induced food coma. Also available are their wonderful selection of banh mi, a fresh baked ciabatta which they fill with beef brisket, chashu pork and soy garlic chicken with house made pickles, fresh chilli, coriander, cucumbers, hoisin sauce and sweet chilli mayo. Still got room? Have a speciality drip coffee made with condensed milk.

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Chilli Daddy

A hot pot from Dr Weng’s Chilli Daddy is the noodle soup equivalent of setting your mouth on fire. Dr Weng was inspired to bring real Szechuan cooking to the UK on account of his Grandmother, who saved herself from starvation by eating a small bowl of noodles in 50s China. One hot pot comes filled with noodles, a choice of meats and a whole host of spices lurking beneath the depths of the murky red broth like alien creatures in the Amazon river. Enter into the Baldwin Street premises and you will find green. Everywhere. And of course an uncompromising dedication to tasty, authentic, Szechuan cuisine. This isn’t your classic pansy Sweet and Sour Chicken. This is a full blown flavour assault. And you ought to try it.

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Yume Kitchen

Wriggle Fact: Yume was the first restaurant founder Rob signed up to the app in 2014, and what a wonderful partnership we’ve formed with them! While you’re more likely to swing by Yume Kitchen for its fresh as hell sushi or incredible teriyaki bento boxes, you would be well advised to have a try of their noodle soups. Although Yume is a Japanese establishment we wouldn’t exactly call the soup ramen, more of a sweet broth based on their frankly unbelievable Miso mixture plus thick Udon noodles, assorted vegetables and perfectly fried prawns, and squid rings. It’s the kind of warming meal that involves a lot of ‘mmms’ and ‘ahhhs’. Ahhh...

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Slurp Shop

Slurp Shop is the youngest recruit to hop aboard the ramen train, and can be found halfway up Park Street. Far from inexperienced at ramen, this venue comes from the same team that run Sticks & Broth. Unlike its more refined sister restaurant on Baldwin Street, the Slurp Shop eatery serves ramen the traditional way, whipping up quick bowls of steaming spicy broth for lower prices. This is a fuss-free street food fix to qualm that craving for protein filled, super healthy comfort food as quickly as possible. Plus perhaps the only place to surely allow for a messy approach to consuming ramen, which for some of us is unavoidable...

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Published -28th December 2017