When you finish ordering at Neighborhood Ramen’s counter, you’ll get a laminated picture of a random object. Sometimes it’s a moth, or a dinosaur - other times it’s a toy truck. And while you wait for the city’s best bowl of ramen to arrive to your table, you’ll wonder why so many restaurants still give you numbers when they could be giving you butterflies instead.
Unlike the more upscale Queens Village restaurants surrounding it, Neighborhood Ramen is casual. You’ll want to hang out here - even after you finish the last of your shoyu broth and see a smiley face staring up at you from the bottom of your empty bowl.
If ramen is one of those foods that you only seek out when it’s a cold, rainy day, then you haven’t been to Neighborhood Ramen. Everything, from their sides to soups, is so good that you’ll find yourself confusingly craving it on an 85-degree day in the middle of summer. There are five choices of ramen on the menu, listed from light to heavy, and the broth is more flavorful than any other place you’ll find in Philly. The options range from a classic shoyu with homemade chicken broth that we’d drink straight from a mug to the heavier iekei with an almost silky pork and chicken broth and black garlic. The only other items on the menu are a few small sides - like a vinegary gyoza and shishito peppers covered in lemon and parmesan, both of which should be on your table.
In between bites of food, you’ll notice the restaurant staff acts like they’re members of an indie band rather than people who just happen to work in the same place. And after delivering your order, which usually includes a bowl of oshinko (Japanese pickles) or sesame salad on the house, they’ll probably hang out for a few minutes just to tell you about the shop or ask you if you’ve seen any good shows recently.
Neighborhood Ramen doesn’t do take-out and won’t give you a container to pour your leftovers into, so your only option is to come hungry and eat until you physically can’t anymore. They also don’t take reservations, so plan to get here early - at 7pm a line starts to wind out the door. It moves quickly, though, so you can get excited knowing that a dinosaur or a shooting star and a seriously good bowl of ramen isn’t far away.
Simple, clean, and just a little sweet, the sesame salad is a good addition to your ramen if you want to start with something on the lighter side.
We weren’t initially sure how the sharp parmesan would mix with the tart lemon and nori flavors, but it all works just as well together as Blink-182 did back in their Enema Of The State days.
Crispy on the outside, with a chewy, soft underside and filled with a ground pork mix, these gyoza are some of the best we’ve had. The sauce, which is both sweet and vinegary, really sets these dumplings apart. Just like how a song doesn’t get out of our head until we listen to it again, we can’t stop thinking about this sauce until we eat it again. And thus the cycle repeats itself.
This is the most classic ramen you’ll find on the menu, with a chicken broth base, silky noodles, and toppings of pork chashu, scallions, and a soy egg. We like all the ramen, but this one is our favorite.
If you’re someone who can finish an entire bowl of shoyu and still be significantly hungry, then we admire you. We also would recommend getting the iekei, the broth is heavier, almost creamy, and flavored with black garlic.
Neighborhood Ramen’s only vegetarian option is filled with mushrooms and tastes like a chicken noodle soup that grew up and got its PHD.