Lately, though, I've noticed that nontraditional ramen chefs are getting a little better at serving their own take on the dish. At Beetlecat (299 N. Highland Ave., Atlanta. 678-732-0360,beetlecatatl.com), executive chef Andrew Isabella serves a rich, dark miso-laden broth over firm, wavy alkaline noodles. The toppings, which include shiitake mushrooms, scallions, sesame seeds and a medium-boiled egg, seem mostly traditional, but in place of sliced chashu-style roast pork, Isabella has substituted fatty strands of pulled pork. That's the touch of a Southern chef if there ever was one.
I’ve been even more impressed, though, with a couple of chefs who have made their own fully Southern, completely nontraditional takes on ramen.
In the Southern Bowl at Southbound, a huge portion of noodles swim in pot liquor-style broth, and the dish is topped with a deviled egg. CONTRIBUTED BY HENRI HOLLIS
At Southbound (5394 Peachtree Road, Chamblee. 678-580-5579, southboundatl.com), the menu offers perhaps the most comically Southern take on ramen I've ever seen, piled high with black-eyed peas, collard greens, chowchow, and, hilariously, a deviled egg. The dark, porky broth is pretty good, though the noodles are too soft to qualify as true ramen noodles. The bright acid of the pickled chowchow and the rich indulgence of a deviled egg, though, make for an entertaining combination.
None of these compare, though, to the bowl that Bruce Logue serves at his excellent Italian restaurant BoccaLupo (753 Edgewood Ave., Atlanta. 404-577-2332, boccalupoatl.com). Like all of the noodles he serves, Logue makes the noodles in-house, topping them with a broth that tastes both of salty, collard green pot liquor and clean pork bones. There are excellent boiled peanuts, julienned radish, seared pork belly and a fierce smear of chile paste running around the bowl that will bring a sweat to your forehead. In making a ramen as nontraditional as possible, Logue has made one worthy of its own tradition. I think even Tampopo would be proud.
For the 2018 AJC Spring Dining Guide, we sat down with some of the leaders in Atlanta’s new fusion revolution. (Erica A. Hernandez/AJC)
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