One of today’s hottest food trends is Ramen, the noodle and broth Japanese specialty. In Chicago, there are a wide range of eateries for Ramen aficionados to go to savor their big bowl of comfort. But one restaurant which has elevated Ramen to its rightful place as a sublime Japanese delicacy is Miku Sushi in Chicago’s Lincoln Square (4514 N. Lincoln Ave.; 773.654.1277). Throughout the month of March, Miku Sushi is celebrating National Noodle Month by offering its amazing Ramen for only $8—the regular price is $13 and $14.
“I believe that most Chicagoans don’t know how good truly authentic Japanese Ramen can be,” says Stanley Liem, owner of Miku Sushi. “I’ve been to most of Chicago’s Ramen spots and while many are good, most of them have taken liberties with their Ramen for efficiency or to appeal to an American audience.”
“Japanese people, especially those who have lived in Japan, know what a great Ramen is supposed to be,” explained Liem. “In Japan, Ramen is not a dish made in the home—it is too time consuming and laborious for home cooks, so people go out for Ramen. Restaurants in Japan have the staff to constantly attend to the broth as it cooks throughout the day. This is essential for the Ramen to reach its full potential.”
Although Miku Sushi is known by most people as a Sushi restaurant, it is their rich, elegant Ramen that has become the reason why many guests keep coming back time and time again.
The secret to Miku Sushi’s Ramen is just that—a secret. Liem secured the rights to one of the most famed Ramen recipes in all of Japan and that is the recipe which is used at Miku Sushi, much to the delight of its growing throng of Ramen fans. “I won’t say more about where the Ramen recipe came from, but I will tell you that we searched for and found a recipe which had earned accolade upon accolade within the Japanese culinary community. We are passionate about our Ramen and we cut absolutely no corners when it comes to the ingredients and our preparation process. Ours is as authentic and refined as it gets.”
The most notable feature of Miku Sushi’s recipe is that it contains very little oil and no flavor enhancers or added salt. “This is not typical of most Ramen one finds in Chicago,” said Liem. “Our Ramen so rich because it is simmered over a three-day period during which time we skim and strain it constantly to remove any excess fat and bring out all of the flavors,” said Liem. “There are many steps to our process; the flavors become more concentrated and blended together the longer the Ramen cooks.”
Miku Sushi prepares two types of Ramen, a mild version and a spicy version. The milder version, Tonkotsu Ramen ($13), is made from egg noodles, rich pork broth, pork belly, soft boil egg, bamboo shoot, sesame, scallion, mushroom, bean sprout and garlic oil. The spicy version, Spicy Roasted Garlic Miso Ramen ($14), is prepared with egg noodles, rich pork broth, pork belly, soft boil egg, bamboo shoot, sesame, scallion, mushroom, bean sprout, roasted garlic, chili pepper and sesame oil.
Although both versions are rich and flavorful, the spicy version, more often than not, becomes the favorite of regular customers. “Once you’ve enjoyed the extra kick of the spicy version, it’s hard to go back to the milder version,” said Liem with a smile.
The Ramen portion is very large, so many couples choose to share one bowl and enhance their meal with Miku Sushi’s other excellent Japanese specialties—small plates, sushi, sashimi, maki and teriyaki. The Ramen adds an especially soothing warmth during the cold weather months. Miku Sushi also is running a special on its Lincoln Square Classic Maki and Traditional Maki, which are offered at half price every day from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. throughout March.
“What I’m most proud of is that we’re serving Ramen that our Japanese guests applaud, because they know what the Ramen experience is supposed to be like and we are fortunate to have met their very high standards,” said Liem. “We hope everyone will stop by and find out what truly authentic Ramen is all about.”
About Stanley Liem and Sara Katekaew
This energetic and dedicated husband and wife team have emerged as a couple to watch within Chicago’s restaurant scene. They first met several years ago when they worked at Tank Sushi, in the same space that now houses Miku Sushi. After knowing each other for four years, their relationship blossomed and once they married, they dreamed of becoming restaurant owners. They opened their first restaurant in 2011, Inari Sushi in Elmwood Park, a Chicago suburb. Their second restaurant, which opened in 2013, was a Thai restaurant called Sala Bua Thai, located in Chicago’s Chinatown. They sold the restaurant in November of 2015.
Having heard that the Tank space was available, they opened Miku Sushi in January 2015, bringing them back to the place where they first met. The couple plans to open a new Thai restaurant on Chicago’s north side sometime in the future, and other concepts also are in the works.
About Miku Sushi
Miku Sushi is a stylish, upscale casual Japanese restaurant located at 4514 N. Lincoln Ave., south of Wilson Avenue, in Chicago’s bustling Lincoln Square neighborhood. The restaurant is situated near many unique attractions including the Old Town School of Folk Music, the Davis Theater and specialty boutiques. Miku Sushi’s menu includes a wide selection of fresh, high-quality Japanese cuisine prepared from the finest ingredients: soups, salads, small plates, maki, ramen, sushi, nigari, special entrées and desserts. The full bar serves creative Asian-inspired cocktails and a wide selection of sakes, wines and beer. The restaurant is open Sunday through Thursday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. and on Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. All major cards are accepted. Ample parking is available on the street or in nearby public parking lots. For more information or to make reservations, please call Miku Sushi at 773.654.1277 or visit the website, www.mikuchicago.com.