Location: SE 33rd and Hawthorne – north of Hawthorne behind the store
Hours: Tues-Sat, 12-7pm
Most everyone I know has a story about ramen from college or even younger years. “I put myself through grad school eating ramen…” But ramen is more than the packaged 10 for $1 kind you find at WinCo and The Ramen Truck opened to prove that.
While ramen is used as a catch-all term for this wonderful bowl of noodles, broth and other goodies, in Japan, there are more than 20 different regional styles. Everyone starts with the same base, but adds magic in the kitchen to create their signature dish. Some have clear soupy broths made from pork or fowl, while others are creamy without a visible broth what-so-ever. Of the main types of ramen – shoyu, miso, shio and tonkotsu, The Ramen Truck focuses on tonkotsu with a pork broth simmered for twelve hours, noodles, green onions, nori (seaweed,) and chashu (sliced braised pork.) Such a simple dish, but with mad awesome flavor.
I’m a child of ramen. I was even introduced to eating raw ramen noodles right out of the package with peanut butter atop. Not bad, but not good. Having recently read a new publication – Lucky Peach, I had to seek out and try some of this ramen that doesn’t come from a package with secret packets of salty death. I ventured down to The Ramen Truck and ordered up a bowl. There was a young Japanese couple with their baby in tow sitting nearby slurping at their noodles. Seeing that, I was convinced I had come to the right place. The ramen is served piping hot. Not boiling, but I needed to let it cool a bit. I mixed everything together with the chopsticks as I understand there is seasoning on the bottom you need to blend in. That first slurp of noodles was surprising. The broth had a creaminess to it I had never experienced before as if there was an extra bit of pork fat layered in. Not a cloyingness like lard, just a different textural and flavorful bit that enhanced the entire dish. While initially surprised, I came to crave that taste at every bite and slurp, taking in every drop until I tilted the bowl to drink it up. Everything in that bowl was wonderful – the homemade noodles, the pork, the egg and the broth. A soup I could eat every day.
Now that I’ve been introduced to real ramen, I seek it out everywhere. With such a rich history of the dish and so many styles, I want to see what else Portland has to offer. The Ramen Truck has set the bar pretty high. Check them out and enjoy some of their tonkotsu style ramen and let them know Food Carts Portland sent ya.
Note on ordering- 1) broth 2) size 3) add ons
- White: homemade pork broth simmered for 12 hours
- Garlic: pork broth with blackened garlic
Sizes: small, $5; large, $7
- both sizes come with homemade ramen noodles, green onions, nori and chashu
- hard boiled egg – $1
- corn, extra green onions, nori, or kimchee – 50c
- extra chashu – $1
- Hiyashi-Chuuka: cold ramen salad with fresh vegetables, ham, hard boiled egg and sesame sauce – $7 (can be made vegetarian without ham)