Battle of the Ramen

Kansas City is catching on to the ramen craze.

miso ramen from Komatsu

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   My first experience with ramen came, predictably, in college. It was one of the few dinners feasible in the depressing space of my dorm room, and the too-familiar squares of dehydrated noodles were often the only thing saving me from the particular misery of campus dining halls. Eventually, I began to resent those ramen packets and their watery, never-quite-satisfying yields. In my post-college days, ramen dinners have been borne out of desperation.

   The ramen craze currently pulsing through Kansas City is designed around an entirely different dish. At places like Columbus Park Ramen Shop, Shio, Summit Grill & Bar and, soon, Komatsu, ramen has been redeemed and elevated to cult status. Forget the dubious chicken-flavored powder; these days, a bowl of ramen means flavorful broth, chewy noodles and an artful assembly of fresh meat and vegetables. It is a steaming hot bowl of yes, and there is nothing desperate or shameful about it.

   Ramen is raging in Kansas City right now, and it felt only appropriate to take stock of this foodie trend and get at the heart of it.