Tucked within a brownstone-lined block in VCU’s urban campus, Shoryuken Ramen serves up Japanese-style soul food to college kids and locals alike. The single-page menu is fairly brief; diners choose between four ramen options — vegetarian, the Shoryuken Classic (chicken broth and dashi), chilled, or Tonkatsu (pork bone broth) — plus appetizers and three varieties of rice bowl. The place tends to fill up at happy hour, and not just for the cheap Kirin Ichiban — this noodle house has a knack for cocktails. Shoryuken puts a Japanese spin on classic drinks like an Old Fashioned, here with syrup made from Lapsang Souchong tea, and a Moscow Mule involving house-made five-spice ginger beer.
It’s no surprise that ramen is what most people order here, and my favorite is the Shoryuken Classic. Choose between Shio (sea salt), Shoyu (aged soy sauce), or Spicy Garlic Miso broths; the first two offer straightforward flavor, while the garlicky miso has a complex richness. Topped with pulled chicken, a soft-cooked egg and a smattering of scallions, the dish is so good you might just want to order kaedama (extra noodles). In contrast, the rice bowls take a walk on the blander side and you’ll only find a shaker of spice on the table, while you’ll pay $1 extra for “kicks” of Togarashi Butter (which tastes like buttered lobster) or the Super Spicy Chili Kick, which is so good I wish it were bottled and placed on every table.
Keep an eye on the daily specials board; this is where chef Will Richardson experiments with unexpected ingredients such as duck cracklins with bourbon-barrel-aged shoyu — and they just may be the best things on the menu.
3 out of 4 forks
900 W. Franklin St.
Hours: Monday to Thursday: 4 to 10 p.m.; Friday and Saturday: 4 to 11 p.m.
Prices: $5 to $10