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Ramen Hill: A brief tour of Capitol Hill’s ramen goodness

The recipe that has peaked the summit of Ramen Hill has some recurring ingredients: A legendary Japanese ramen house brings its proprietary broth recipe and one of a kind noodles to America, usually through a subsidiary or franchise, with one of its first if not only locations right here on Capitol Hill. Other recipes — like tiny Ooink — are entirely unique. But the trend is undeniable — Capitol Hill is now filled with ramen.

By CHS’s count, only four new Japanese noodle places have opened up on Capitol Hill in the past year. But with a small wave of openings in recent years, we have now reached a point that must be near broth saturation point. Below, join us for a brief tour of the newest slurp-y goodness now available to warm your rainy days on the Hill.

Ramen Danbo / 1222 E Pine / “Fukuoka-style” / More info
The latest addition to the Hill’s top ramen experience is this “first U.S. location” for the “International ramen chain” with more than 30 locations around the world. Danbo’s space has been challenged in its short life in new construction on E Pine near 14th. Chef Eric Stapelman moved to Seattle from New Mexico to open Shibumi and create the restaurant space, his take on upper scale Japanese and ramen. Stapelman’s venture shuttered after a concept shift around the world to French cuisine.The recipe for Ramen Danbo is “Fukuoka-style tonkotsu ramen.” It’s probably a good play for Seattle. The southern Japanese city is also known never-ending rain.

Tentenyu / 1510 Belmont Ave / “Ramen Street” / More info
CHS broke the news to start 2017 on the ramen play being lined up for a cool restaurant space in Pike/Pine’s old Mercedes dealership-brick AVA Capitol Hill development. By the time we got back from our summer news break, Tentenyu was open and looking good. Opened by a U.S. subsidiary, the Capitol Hill location joins other Tentenyu’s in Southern California as the spawn of the Kyoto-born original that traces its roots to the city’s “Ramen Street.” Here on the Hill, Tentenyu’s 1,100-square foot ramen, beer, and cocktail joint can be found beneath the old Mercedes logo sign on Belmont.

Betsutenjin / 954 E Union / “Hakata-style” / More info
No restaurant on Capitol Hill might have received more of a short shrift from CHS than Betsutenjin. It might be one of the few — and, perhaps, only — Capitol Hill join we’ve never been inside. Its opening slipped by us though we did not it was coming in our countdown of food+drink projects to look forward to in 2017. Betsutenjin fits into the “international ramen chain” mould with a U.S. expansion underway here in Seattle and on the Eastside. From Hakata-ku, Betsutenjin’s pork bone ramen roots are as rain-soaked as Ramen Danbo’s.

Ooink / 1416 Harvard / “Respect the ingredients” / More info
Ooink’s recipe is one of a kind. Chef Chong Boon Ooi has Malaysian roots but centers his little restaurant above Broadway and Pike on traditional Japanese preparations. After cooking in kitchens across the city, he worked with wife Jiaxin Wang to put Ooink into motion. The space is small but the results are hugely satisfying.

Kizuki Ramen / 320 E Pine / First of the “International Ramen Chains” to land on the Hill / More info
Born as Kukai Ramen in the spring of 2015, Kizuki marked the start of the trend as it touted the import of its special broth recipes from its Japanese original. A big re-brand came about when the U.S. subsidiary discovered “kukai” means something kinda gross in Hawaiian. But don’t think about that. The Hill’s elder ramen statesperson probably ties newcomer Ranbo as far as most seats for slurping.

Honorable mentions
Suika: This Canadian izakaya import has successfully made the old 611 Supreme space its home on E Pine. Yes, you can get a bowl of ramen there among lots of other quality Japanese bar chow. Sibling Tamari Bar is coming soon across the street.
U:Don Fresh Noodle Station:
More udon, naturally, than ramen, this expansion from the U District has settled into the 12th Ave Arts building.
 –This Edmonds import has brought hand-pulled Chinese noodles to the base of Capitol Hill.
MorfireHot pots and cocktails opened on 12th Ave this summer.
Samurai Noodle: Born too soon, this concept opened on Broadway in 2011 before shuttering. Another type of noodle joint altogether now calls the location home.


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2 thoughts on “Ramen Hill: A brief tour of Capitol Hill’s ramen goodness

  1. Just like the pizza places – one every other block or so, and all pretty similar tasting. At least one is always nearby!