Craving ramen? Here are Chicago's top 5 izakayas to visit now

Photo: Ramen Wasabi/Yelp

Looking for small, inexpensive, Japanese dishes and snacks to enjoy with a cocktail or two?

Hoodline crunched the numbers to find the top izakayas in Chicago, using both Yelp data and our own secret sauce to produce a ranked list of where to satisfy your cravings.

1. Ramen Wasabi



Photo: Eda X./Yelp

Topping the list is Ramen Wasabi. Located at 2101 N. Milwaukee Ave. in Logan Square, the Japanese spot is the most popular izakaya in Chicago, boasting four stars out of 1,491 reviews on Yelp.

Ramen Wasabi serves ramen (made with its special brand of pork-bone broth), small plates, cocktails and more. Watch out for a range of traditional and contemporary Japanese fare like tonkotsu with Berkshire pork belly, soft boiled egg, marinated bamboo shoots, sesame, mushrooms and garlic oil; spicy roasted garlic miso with egg noodles, rich pork broth, Berkshire pork belly, soft boiled egg, marinated bamboo shoots, bean sprouts, scallion and chili threads; fried chicken nuggets and house-made pork dumplings.

2. Kizuki Ramen & Izakaya



Photo: Kizuki Ramen & izakaya/Yelp

Next up is Wicker Park's Kizuki Ramen & Izakaya, situated at 1482 N. Milwaukee Ave. With four stars out of 456 reviews on Yelp, the izakaya has proven to be a local favorite.

Kizuki Ramen's philosophy is simple: "to serve the most traditional, authentic, and delicious Japanese ramen you can possibly have without actually flying to Japan," the business's website stated. Notable menu items include yuzu shio ramen with French sea salt, kelp, and a Japanese citrus base; soft tofu, drizzled with your choice of either soy sauce or a spicy dressing; and chicken karaage on a bed of rice, salad greens and tomatoes drizzled with sesame dressing.

3. Izakaya Mita



Photo: amy s./Yelp

Bucktown's Izakaya Mita offers sashimi, drinks, small plates and more. Located at 1960 N. Damen Ave., the restaurant is another top choice, with Yelpers giving the casual spot four stars out of 177 reviews.

Not only does Izakaya Mita offer a vast array of top-shelf Japanese sake -- the establishment serves up unique hand-crafted cocktails, and a hearty selection of small plates like fried fish sliders with tartar sauce, grilled asparagus wrapped in bacon, and deep fried tofu in tempura sauce. And don't forget to sample some sashimi while you're there.

4. Friends Ramen



Photo: julius u./Yelp
Friends Ramen, an izakaya offering ramen and more, is another go-to, with four stars out of 123 Yelp reviews. Head over to 808 N. State St., and taste for yourself.

Choose from ramen options like tantanmen (dan dan noodles) with pork and chicken broth, spicy ground pork, fried garlic, pork belly, and a poached egg; spicy miso with pork and chicken, egg noodles, pork belly, and a marinated boiled egg; and vegetable ramen with rice noodles, kale, corn, tofu, bean sprouts, and scallions. All of Friends Ramen's signature bowls run $6 each.

5. Booze Box
Photo: PJ M./Yelp

Tucked away in the basement of Sushi Dokku -- but with its own separate entrance and speakeasy vibe -- check out Booze Box, which has earned four stars out of 118 reviews on Yelp. You can find the Japanese bar and izakaya over in the West Loop, at 823 W. Randolph St.

On the menu, get ready for an assortment of small plates like tuna tataki with spicy miso mustard sauce; pan-seared pork gyoza or chicken dumplings; and egg tofu with tempura sauce, ginger and green onions. The bar features a robust drink menu, with a large selection of Japanese sake, cocktails, and beer.
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