Lunchtime Snob: Nama Ramen 

click to enlarge Quality over quantity at Nama Ramen, where noodle options are limited but worth it. - TAYLOR ALLEN
  • Taylor Allen
  • Quality over quantity at Nama Ramen, where noodle options are limited but worth it.

Nama Ramen, which recently opened to diners' delight in a shopping center on Babcock Road, was a pleasant surprise in a very unsuspecting spot. A very modern finish with fun Japanese anime art on the wall makes for a unique dining experience. Lunch offerings include a full menu of sushi rolls, several starters and a ramen bowl. The sushi is made fresh to order with a boatload of fish on presentation in their sushi case.

This particular lunch trip I had the ramen — how could I not? It is the namesake after all. Although Nama only offers one of its ramen dishes at lunch, they do offer a variety of add-ons to step it up a bit. I added a soft-boiled egg and spicy oil and was tempted to add extra pork, but held back to try more of the menu.

Other options to add are extra noodles, corn or pork. The ramen noodles are nicely done and though I could not discern if they were homemade or not, they hit the spot. The broth has a nice flavor without being too salty and the hot oil is a must if you like your ramen with a kick.

If you are extra hungry or with a group, like I was during this visit, the okonomiyaki fries are a crowd favorite. Topped with kewpie mayo, okonomiyaki sauce and bonito furikake, they're truly a must-have. The bonito furikake flakes come out curling up on the hot fries, which is fun to watch. We also shared an order of gyoza. In my opinion, it is pretty hard to mess up fried dishes, so saying they were good does not necessarily make them unique.

Lunch service is prompt and not crowded, lending itself to a swift quick solo lunch or easy spot to take a larger group. Diners will find a bubble tea shop next door to satiate those post-lunch sweet tooth cravings. We didn't make a stop but definitely next time.

My next visit will be for dinner. There's another ramen that comes with seaweed salad not available at lunch. It also seems the chef is playing it fast and loose come supper time, where a recent special included serving up fresh sea urchin.

Nama Ramen

6565 Babcock Road, Suite 19, (210) 641-2888, 11-2:30pm and 5pm-midnight for, dinner; closed Sundays.

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