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No, it’s not the cheap dehydrated sodium packs from your college days. Traditional Japanese ramen contains exquisitely prepared broths—with vegetarian versions available, too—and hand-pulled noodles, flavored with perfectly soft-boiled eggs and a variety of other toppings. Slurping is not only permitted—it's part of the ritual.

Here are four local spots doing ramen right:

Best Overall Ramen: State Street Eating House + Cocktails

Available only on Monday nights and only in the restaurant's popular lounge. The space can be loud and there's usually a wait, but the broth here is intensely rich—with pork bones, sliced char siu pork and noodles that are just made for you double-slurp in unison with the buzzing room. Each week, about four or five different ramen bowls are offered, including a vegetarian version made with gluten-free noodles. My advice: Order the original and make Monday night a ramen night not to forget. (The ramen is served with handmade dumplings or a cucumber salad.)

Best Vegetarian Ramen: Goichi’s Sushi Café

What makes this an earthy bowl of sweet and salty goodness is the mirin-marinated mushrooms. Popular enough that the restaurant started out serving ramen only on Monday nights and now offers it Monday through Saturday, Goichi's bowls include both traditional varieties and this mind-blowing mushroom pot of goodness. Bring cash, which will earn you a small discount.

Best Carry-Out Presentation: Lucky’s Market

The supermarket's light broth comes wrapped like a birthday present. Perfect to travel to a friend’s house or for sunset ramen on the beach. Fast and convenient.

First Local Restaurant to Perfect Ramen: JPan

The pork here is so tender it melts in your mouth. Chef Daniel Dokko perfected his ramen over the years with travels to Japan that helped him hone is technique and learn how to build rich flavor. He was the first to bring steaming bowls of comfort to the area.

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Editor’s Pick

J-Pan

$$ Sushi Multiple Locations

When everyone is in an Asian mood, but each wants something different, compromise on Jpan.

Editor’s Pick

Lucky's Market

$ American, Bakery 3501 S. Tamiami Trail, #430

“Organic for the 99 percent,” the Colorado-based Lucky’s chain offers great sales on organic produce and big savings on bulk items and house-cured meats. A h...

Editor’s Pick

Goichi's Sushi Cafe

Asian, Sushi 4563 Bee Ridge Road

 
Sure, it’s a sushi restaurant, but more importantly, Goichi's has a ramen menu stocked with a long list of brothy beauties. The restaurant’s tonkotsu broth...

Editor’s Pick

State Street Eating House + Cocktails

$$$ American 1533 State St.

Featuring modern takes on classic comfort food (think lobster macaroni and cheese, fried chicken and lamb), State Street also features an ambitious cocktail program and a separate lounge.