"In Japan, they turned the ramen in a completely different way," said Kee Chan, owner of Strings Ramen. "They add their own flavor - Tonkotsu, miso ramen - something the Japanese eat everyday pretty much."
"Tonkotsu - or milky white pork bone broth - is cut with a bit of chicken stock, lessening its intensity.
"We do 70 percent of the pork broth and 30 percent of chicken broth to make it a little bit sweet," Chan said.
For an even lighter broth, there's the Shio ramen.
"[For] the Shio we do sea salt and chicken stock only," Chan said.
His Shoyu uses more of a fish-based broth, and the miso contains three types of the soybean-based stock along with a broth made from equal parts chicken and pork. Bowls can be customized with toppings such as fresh bamboo, colorful fish cakes or Char Siu, the tender, slow-cooked pork.
The noodles are all the same, made in the basement on a fancy Japanese noodle machine and cut to 2.5 millimeters thick. They are then dropped into water that's heated between 190 and 210 degrees for exactly 45 seconds.
"I wanted a little more bite to it," Chan said. "Normally I think the noodle is good when you bite into it. You need a second layer to bite into the noodle, that's the best part of enjoying it."
Strings is certainly not the last ramen shop you're going to see in the city. There are several other restaurateurs in town working on their own ramen concepts, because after all, who doesn't love a bowl of hearty, rich broth and great noodles?
There are a couple more ramen shops slated to open in the next few months, including High Five ramen in the West Loop and Ramen-San in River North. This summer, Ramen Takeya opens in the Fulton Market area.
2141 S. Archer Ave.