Ramen Misoya way beyond college dorm fare

Ramen has moved way beyond the days of a cheap, college dorm room dinner. These days, chefs are pouring great ingredients into their bowls, many of which, including at Ramen Misoya in Mount Prospect, are based on Japanese recipes.
November 9, 2013 9:34:01 PM PST
To understand the dance that is ramen assembly, you must start with the broth. At places like Ramen Misoya - in a dingy, blink-and-you'll-miss-it strip mall in Mount Prospect - they focus on broths redolent of salty miso, as well as slow-cooked pork bones, called tonkotsu.

"It's made using pork bones and other ingredients to make it a rich base for a soup," said General Manager and cook Kohei Tomita. "There's a lot of miso varieties in Japan, but the ones we use here the red miso, the white miso and the black miso."

The color indicates whether it was made with rice, barley or soy. After the broth, there are noodles of course. Misoya's are imported egg-based versions, cooked briefly in rapidly boiling water, fiercely shaken off, then dumped in, along with a dizzying array of other toppings: char siu, or grilled, pork; corn, fish cakes, seaweed, you name it. But the everyman appeal of the dish - I mean, who doesn't like slurping noodles buried in a delicious, salty-rich broth - make it a meal-in-a-bowl at a relatively inexpensive price point. When I ask Tomita if he plans to open a second shop closer to the city, he remains non-committal.

"Misoya has only been in America for two years; eventually we'll aim for the goal of opening a store in downtown," said Tomita.

It doesn't really matter which broth you choose - they're all oishii, delicious - I was in Japan about eight months ago and I'm telling you the flavors are spot-on. Now if you really like what the cook did for you, on your way out, be sure to wish him an arigatou gozaimasu.

There are other Misoyas in New York and Los Angeles, and the restaurant doesn't take reservations, it's first-come, first-served.

Ramen Misoya
1584 S. Busse Rd., Mt. Prospect