When many Americans hear the word, “Ramen,” they are often transported to memories of when they were young or perhaps in college where ramen meant a cheap package of dry noodles with a powdered flavor packet. That kind of instant ramen will always have a spot in my heart, but real ramen is so much more.
Others mistakenly assume that real ramen is similar to Vietnamese Pho, which has made it’s mark on the American palate over the years. However, comparing Ramen to Pho is like comparing a chicken parm sandwich to a turkey club. Sure, they’re both poultry sandwiches, but they don’t really taste alike and their compositions are different. Each stands on its own.
For a long time, the Providence area had less than a handful of ramen restaurants available to ramen seekers. They did the job and one is even very good, but Ganko’s arrival to Providence is the ramen we’ve all been desperately waiting for.
Ganko Ittetsu Ramen
215 Thayer St.
Providence RI 02906
Service and Atmosphere
Ganko Ittetsu is a restaurant laid out for efficiency with a typical ramen counter open to the kitchen and some tables. Seating is tight, but comfortable to get as many people in as possible. While the warm wood tones are inviting, the restaurant is designed to move people along because the menu basically only offers ramen, which means people eat and go when they’re done. This is great because it means wait times are never too long and for those seeking a quick meal, it’s a solid option. With all of that said, the atmosphere is still one of camaraderie and a welcoming spirit as the staff greets customers in unison in a fun homage to some authentic Japanese restaurants. Always a great place for a drink and a steaming hot bowl of delicious ramen surrounded by friendly staff.
As I mentioned, patrons of Ganko have one job and that’s to eat ramen. The simple yet fantastic menu offers six standard bowls of ramen with the option for some add-ons. There is beer offered as well, but other than that there are no appetizers and no dessert. Customers choose a bowl of ramen, eat it, feel optimistic about life again, and leave to the sounds of the staff cheerfully wishing them well.
Shoyu Ramen – Signature Style – My favorite ramen from Ganko so far (I haven’t tried them all yet!) is the Shoyu or soy-sauce based broth. They call it their signature ramen, so the bar is set pretty high. Luckily it delivers on a beautifully rich and flavorful broth that doesn’t taste overwhelmingly of soy sauce at all. Wonderfully textured al dente noodles carry delicious, tender pork, veggies, and a perfectly boiled half egg. Really excellent and a shining example of what ramen has to offer.
Tantan Ramen (Sesame Flavor) – My wife’s personal favorite is the tantan, which is flavored heavily, but not overpowered with sesame. The broth is perhaps the most light and delicate that I’ve tried from Ganko and yet the flavors are boldly intricate. It comes with the same great noodles, but also has some sweetness from corn, a garnish of cilantro, and comes with ground pork instead of whole pieces.
Miso Ramen (Origin of Sapporo style) – One of the most common styles of Ramen that I’ve seen around is miso, which is made using a soy bean paste base. It’s delicious as well (especially with wood ear mushrooms!) and features the Ganko noodles, tender pork, an egg, corn, and soy beans. Miso is classic and many ramen joints feature it. There are those that swear by it, while others prefer different broths, which goes to show that ramen is a very personal thing.
Ganko Ittetsu is probably one of the best, if not the best, ramen restaurant in Southern New England as far as I’m concerned. I’ve eaten ramen all around as well as in Japan and Ganko holds its own as some of my favorite ramen so far. Highly recommended for a quick, hot, comforting, and satisfying bowl of decadent Japanese noodles.
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