Traditional Japanese ramen is becoming more popular in the U.S, and several Metro-Detroit restaurants have stepped up to serve the dish. We asked you to nominate and vote for your favorite ramen spots, and now one restaurant reigns supreme - Johnny Noodle King on Fort St. in Detroit!
The founders, Chef Les Molnar and owners Jaques and Christine Discoll, were considering opening a ramen shop when they traveled to Japan to research the concept. What they discovered in their travels was that no matter where they went, ramen shops each had their own take on the classic recipes. Johnny Noodle King takes this concept to heart, working under the philosophy of never taking themselves too seriously, and having fun with the food. "We are not traditional ramen. We are Detroit ramen."
This isn't your typical 3-minute dorm room ramen either; traditional ramen is a labor intensive dish that Johnny Noodle King makes mostly from scratch. They get their noodles fresh from Sun Noodle Company, and make their broth completely in-house.
"Many of our proteins take several hours. We cook our broths for 10+ hours," executive chef Kevin Frader said. "Each ingredient takes a good amount of time. But once all of these pieces are done, the puzzle of ramen falls right into place."
Some of their Detroit-style ramen is made with unique flavors you wouldn't be able to find in a traditional Japanese ramen shop. Their Philly Cheese Steak Ramen, for instance, was a limited time menu option that developed a fan following from some customers. Other flavors like the Southwest #3 and the Red Curry are permanant additons to the menu, and prove that customers are hungry for these unique takes on the classic.
"We get inspiration from anywhere we can. Oftentimes we have found great inspiration from other foods and cuisines; the Philly bowl, for instance. Eating the sandwich and saying, alright, now how do we turn this sandwich into a bowl of ramen?"
Even Johnny Noodle King's Shoyu ramen breaks tradition. Shoyu ramen is a generally simple combination of pork broth and soy sauce, and can be found in pretty much any ramen shop. Johnny Noodle King's recipe honors the original flavors, but adds new flavors to make it their own. It has quickly become their single most popular ramen dish.
We’d like to thank Wallside Windows for their longtime sponsorship of Vote 4 the Best and their support of southeast Michigan’s local businesses. Wallside is a Taylor, MI-based family business that manufactures and installs custom replacement windows. Now in their third generation, they're celebrating the company's 75th anniversary.