Arashi Ramen is an “it” spot in Tukwila. Will its new Ballard location match the competition?
It took forever for this highly anticipated tonkotsu ramen shop to open in Ballard.
“Construction delays,” Arashi Ramen owner Sonny Hu said of the restaurant that was a year in the making.
Last month, it finally opened, in a flatiron-shaped slab of real estate off the main drag. Arashi Ramen, which debuted in Tukwila two years ago and became the “it” spot for ramen in the south end, is banking it can make the same inroads in Seattle, where the competition is stiffer.
5401 20th Ave. N.W., (Ballard) Seattle
Hours: lunch 11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Tuesday-Sunday; dinner 5-9:30 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday and Sunday, 5-10:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday; closed Monday
Etc: sake and beer; street parking; no obstacles to access; accepts major credit cards
The menu: Nine different ramen options ($9.50-$12.50) are served in a rich, pork broth (tonkotsu). The cold ramen can be made vegetarian upon request. For about $5 more, make it a combo with a salad and choice of appetizers.
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Don’t miss: The most hearty is its “Arashi Ramen” bowl topped with three pork belly slices, a textbook-perfect soft-boiled egg with a gooey yolk, bean sprouts and green onions. Seaweed adds vegetal and mineral notes that cut into the fatty pork broth. The miso tonkotsu ($10.50) has less meat but comes in a creamy broth, sweetened with corn bits.
Arashi’s broth is clean and rich, but it lacks the sharp, refined notes of Hokkaido Ramen Santouka’s in Bellevue, the standard-bearer for tonkotsu-style ramen. Still, Arashi is one of the better ramens you will find in the area.
For appetizers, the honey garlic karaage chicken ($6.95), a favorite at the Tukwila locale, are nuggets of dark meat coated in an addictingly crunchy sweet batter.
What to skip: The soggy takoyaki ($6.50), octopus balls topped with seaweed, bonito flakes and drenched in some sweet-savory sauces, lacked the usual crispy coating.
The setting: The 29-seat setup is similar in size to its popular Tukwila spot, though it targets the mainstream and the barhopping crowd in Ballard.
Summing up: Two ramen bowls and three appetizers (gyoza, fried chicken and takoyaki) totaled $47.13, a big meal for two.