Ramen, a wheat-based noodle soup, has a rich history of adaptation and inspiration. Originally developed as a result of the influx of wheat into Asia after World War II, the dish has filled every role from cheap eat to astronaut food to elevated cuisine. The possibilities for variations of this classic dish are endless with base options including pork, bone, chicken, vegetarian, and seafood, among others. The noodles can be thin or thick, and the toppings often include seaweed, eggs, scallions, and sprouts.

My first experience with ramen came in elementary school when I had a best friend who was half Japanese. Oddly enough, I never actually saw Amy’s family make instant ramen as a meal, instead they would break it up in the bag and put it in a bowl then sprinkle the seasoning over it and eat it dry. Later, as a college student and then young professional trying to make ends meet, I found the convenience of cooking instant noodles to be a lifesaver when money was tight.

While I have a personal affinity for the instant noodle varieties, there’s no doubt that I’ve continued my love – and, dare I say, elevated my tastes – for ramen into adulthood. Luckily, Atlanta has a huge array of restaurants that sell this delectable dish. While many include ramen as one option on their menu, there are other restaurants that have dedicated their entire concept to this tasty noodle soup. Listed below are four of my personal favorite restaurants to try this dish for yourself.

Pork Shio
Chicken Paitan

Taiyo Ramen
130 Clairemont Ave., Suite 100, Decatur
taiyoramen.com or (404) 996-6504
Pork Shio: Beautiful Briny Sea Salt, chicken broth, rolled sliced pork belly, vegetable, soft-boiled seasoned egg, scallions, garlic soy reduction – $12.00
Chicken Paitan: Creamy chicken bone broth, pulled chicken, garlic chili oil, soft-boiled seasoned egg, ginger, scallions – $13.00

Karaage Chicken Ramen
Creamy Vegan Ramen

JINYA Ramen Bar
5975 Roswell Road, B217, Sandy Springs (also 3714 Roswell Road in Buckhead)
jinya-ramenbar.com or (404) 600-6974
Karaage Chicken Ramen: chicken broth, crispy chicken, chili sauce, green onion, bamboo shoots, seasoned egg, non-dried seaweed, served with thin noodles – $12.95 (October and November Chef’s Special)
Spicy Creamy Vegan Ramen: vegetable broth, tofu, onion, green onion, spinach, crispy onion, garlic chips, garlic oil, chili oil, sesame seeds, thick noodles – $12.95

Hakata Tonkotsu Classic

Ton Ton
Ponce City Market, 675 Ponce de Leon Ave.
tontonramen.com or (404) 883-3507
Hakata Tonkotsu Classic: pork belly, soft boiled egg, menma, wood-ear mushrooms, butter garlic corn, scallions, sesame seeds – $13 (I added a chili bomb for $0.95)

Red Spicy Tonkotsu

Wagaya Japanese Restaurant
1579 N. Decatur Road, Atlanta
wagaya.us or (678) 949-9278
Red Spicy Tonkotsu: Noodle, soft-boiled egg, scallion, seaweed, chashu (braised pork belly) – $10.95

Isadora Pennington

Isadora Pennington is a freelance writer and photographer based in Atlanta. She is the editor of Sketchbook by Rough Draft, a weekly Arts newsletter.