ORLANDO, Fla. – Ramen in the U.S. may have had humble beginnings, but these Orlando-area restaurants have continued to push the beloved bowl of noodles forward.
In 1958, Momofuku Ando, the father of instant ramen, found that frying partially cooked noodles then dehydrating them would preserve them, and allow to be quickly cooked later by only adding hot water. With his discovery, he created “Chicken Ramen," the world’s first instant noodles.
Fast forward to 1971, Ando wanted to turn his invention into a global sensation. That’s when he invented the now well-known CUPNOODLES, a dish that would find itself in the pantry of many college students and young people everywhere today.
With increased accessibility to instant ramen, and familiarity over time, the once Japanese-exclusive dish has exploded in demand within the U.S.
With over a dozen shops throughout Orlando sporting their own take on the famous Japanese noodle dish, it’s safe to say ramen is embedded in Central Florida food culture.
For those wanting to slurp and sip their way into a food coma, these Orlando ramen destinations are for you.
This long-standing ramen shop, located in the Chinatown shopping center on West Colonial Drive, is the go-to noodle stop for many. A visit on a weekend can easily be met with a line flowing out the door of the small noodle house.
Six different ramen dishes make up the backbone of Sapporo’s menu and will only cost you $10-11. There is even a sumo size ramen option for an additional $5 if your appetite is mighty fierce that day.
Udon, curry and a plethora of Japanese appetizers and treats provide additional options to those not in the mood for soup, but craving something equally traditional.
Domu, which began as a single ramen restaurant in Orlando’s Audubon Park area in 2016, has now expanded to include a fast-casual version of the concept in the Waterford Lakes Town Center.
Chef and owner Sonny Nguyen’s ramen concept is modern in its approach and inspired by ’90s hip-hop, according to Domufl.com. Featured on Travel Channel programs, “Food Paradise” and “The Zimmern List,” Nguyen’s hand-made noodle house has received national attention.
The menu includes original creations such as the Richie Rich, a miso-shoyu pork bone broth ramen, but still offers patrons the classics they’re familiar with. A tasty bowl of noodles will run customers between $10 to $16 depending on their selection. Asian buns, rice bowls and appetizers such as the extra crunchy Domu Wings provide diners with multiple ways to gorge.
The Audubon Park location often garners waits over an hour long and does not take reservations, so come prepared to be patient.
Jinya Ramen Bar
Representing Orlando’s Thorton Park neighborhood with its only Florida location, Jinya Ramen is a chain from Tokyo. According to Jinya-ramenbar.com, the strength of ramen originates from a great broth, not the noodles.
Pork, chicken and vegetarian broths are available across 12 different ramen options, with a fiery red tonkotsu broth standing out. For ramen, prices range from $10.50 for the Vegetable Ramen to $18.95 for Jinya’s Goku Midnight Cowboy Ramen. A laundry list of toppings are also available at an additional cost to customize your bowl of noodles.
Located just up the road from the house of the mouse is Susuru, a retro-clad, ’70s action figure and Godzilla covered ramen and Japanese pub restaurant resides. Low-to-the-ground stools, colorful signs and a “welcome in” from the whole staff upon entering give the feeling of being transported to another time period, one with a fun, pop-art decor.
While tapas-style eating is the name of the game at Susuru since its 2018 opening, its ramen stands out within the menu line-up and won’t disappoint. The ramen from this Japan wonderland will cost you between $11-12. The Tori Paitan ramen, a creamy double chicken broth complete with zingy yuzu chicken chashu, is sure to excite.
Being a pub, Susuru also has an extensive sake and Japanese whiskey list to pair with their small plates, grilled meat skewers and ramen.
While not traditionally thought of as a place to score a bowl of piping hot noodle soup, Kadence, known for its omakase service, offers a rotating ramen option on both its lunch and dinner walk-in bar menus.
At $15, the Everybody Loves Ramen, a rotating mystery ramen-of-the-day has been a lot of things in recent menu history. From sous vide chicken shoyu ramen to pork belly duck broth ramen, it’ll always be a pleasant gamble for customers.
Though it rotates, the walk-in menu of the Audubon Park restaurant is usually full of light bites, sushi and ramen ranging from $8 to $25 per item on most days.
To see Kadence’s lunch and dinner walk-in bar menus for the day, check out its Instagram here.
A Baldwin Park and Winter Park favorite for nearly 20 years, Seito Sushi pairs the traditional Japanese dish of sushi with pan Asian cuisine to creature a modern take on classics. While a medley of Asian cuisines are represented under one menu, ramen is front and center.
Seito has three ramen choices costing $14. The restaurant’s take on tonkotsu ramen uses a 24-hour pork broth, braised pork belly and local eggs from Lake Meadows Farm in Ocoee.
Seito also has a location in the Sand Lake neighborhood.
Jade Sushi & New Asian
Hailing from the College Park neighborhood, Jade Sushi & New Asian brings some oddity to the ramen line-up.
Smack-dab in the middle of the menu is a beefy ramen selection. The standard shoyu, tonkotsu and miso classics are present, but Jade also has a few more out-there selections. The Jampong Spicy Seafood Ramen, complete with soft shell crab, shrimp, scallop, squid and scallions all swimming in a Korean hot pepper broth, makes for a memorable $13 experience for all the seafood lovers out there. Overall, the six ramen choices at Jade range from $11 to $13.
Being a pan Asian concept, the rest of the menu has Chinese, Japanese, Korean and other Asian cuisine favorites.
Which Orlando-area restaurant is your favorite ramen destination? Leave your choice in the comments below.