Takara Ramen is a pleasant surprise in the West End

A few months ago my fiancé and I were driving down Broad Street and a new sign caught my eye. Takaro? Tanaka? Takara? Wait, what did that say? Is it another hibachi place? Does Richmond really need another hibachi?

“I’ll have to remember to Google that,” I remember saying out loud.

“Google what?” she replied.

“Oh some new food spot where the frozen yogurt place was.”

“I think that’s a new ramen place.”

The first thing that I thought of was being totally broke in college in a busted old apartment in the Fan giving myself hypertension by consuming nothing but cup-o-noodles for days on end. Six-hundred percent of my daily sodium intake in one serving for less than dollar? Dietary guidelines are for chumps so sign me up!

Fortunately, this isn’t the ramen you’re probably familiar with. Yes, there are noodles and broth, but stick with me because that’s where the similarities end.

The first time I went with my fianceé and two of our friends. When we walked in all the cooks at the back of the restaurant shouted hello in Japanese. Kind of. I think only one of them was actually Japanese so it was more of a cacophony of sounds that I just assumed was a hello in Japanese.

The tables are set up like little bars all over the restaurant. All the seating is on stools, which I wasn’t wild about, but it fits the theme of the décor. I honestly don’t care what a restaurant looks like as long as its design is somewhat coherent and not overtly offensive. That being said, if you have an aversion to corrugated metal and wood, this is not the restaurant for you. Now, onto the food.

I ordered a Chashu Bun (pork belly, scallions, cucumber, and spicy mayo) and the Takara Tonkotsu Ramen (Noodles with pork brother, pork belly, soft boiled egg, spinach, menma, kikurage mushrooms, green onion, sprouts, garlic chips and black garlic oil.).

The Chashu Bun was pretty neat. It reminded me a little bit of a Jimmy Dean breakfast sandwich with some Japanese flair and a much lighter (and much better) flavor. The cucumber and mayo complimented the pork belly well. It did look a little strange. I didn’t realize it would resemble an albino clam that had been stung by a bee in the middle of eating a salad.

The ramen was absolutely delicious. The broth was full of rich flavor and the pork belly practically melted in my mouth. The noodles were the perfect consistency. This was a fantastic opportunity for me to demonstrate how great I am at using chopsticks, and when I say “great” I mean extremely bad.

That’s alright, though, because slurping your noodles is considered a good thing when eating ramen. If those with you turn their noses up at the sound while you do it, tell them they are uncultured philistines and continue slurping.

The damage for all of this was a little more than $23. For that price, this place is a steal.

There are a ton of lunch and dinner options in the West End/Short Pump area, but I think Takara does a great job of setting itself apart from everything else out there.

I’m not a ramen aficionado. I don’t have a dozen other Ramen restaurants to compare it to. I’ve never been to Japan, so you’ll never hear me say “Oh I went to Tokyo and this place is just SO authentic” and honestly I don’t think that matters. It’s great food at an amazing price.

TJ Perry is a realtor who lives in the West End. E-mail him at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).
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Henrico Business Bulletin Board

September 2017

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