There are some foods I crave literally all of the time. Loaded Italian subs. Turkish lahmacun. Nova salmon. Jamaican oxtails. Hot pastrami with grilled onions and good mustard. Prosciutto. Oysters. Auntie Anne’s pretzels. (Sorry, not sorry!) Obviously I don’t eat them all the time because I don’t want to die, but I sure do love them. And another one on this list is tonkotsu ramen, springy noodles and fat-marbled chashu pork slices in a gloriously rich and creamy pork bone broth. There are other kinds of ramen that are all worthy of love, but for me, tonkotsu is the bowl that rules them all.
There are a few restaurants to get a delicious bowl of ramen around Orlando, and I’ve reviewed a few of them: Susuru down near Disney Springs, Domu in the East End Market in Orlando’s hip Audubon Park neighborhood, Kai Asian Street Fare on the edge of Casselberry and Winter Park, Jade Sushi & New Asian in College Park near downtown Orlando.
But this past week, a brand-new restaurant specializing in ramen opened on Aloma Avenue in Oviedo, between Tuskawilla Road and the 417, placing it very close to Winter Springs, Casselberry, and Winter Park, and ten minutes from our home. The place is Ramen Takagi (https://ramentakagi.com/), and I’ve been waiting months for it to finally open. (It is open every day except Tuesdays!) When I arrived, I was the only customer, but three staff members were chatting inside. I was pleased to see they were all wearing masks, even though they were alone in their restaurant, and they were warm and friendly when I got there and introduced myself. After visiting tonight for the first time, I was so glad to welcome them to the neighborhood, and I promised these new neighbors they would be seeing a lot more of me.
This is the tonkotsu ramen ($13), with the sliced chashu pork, ajitamago (a marinated, soft-boiled egg), pickled ginger, and scallions over a generous portion of perfectly-cooked noodles. Even before adding the broth, it was beautiful.
This is the rich, creamy pork bone broth, which had already started separating in the ten minutes it took me to drive home, but a quick stir melded everything back together. I appreciated it so much that they packed the broth separately.
Here’s the beautiful bowl with the broth stirred up and poured in over everything. I loved it so very much. Is it my favorite tonkotsu ramen in Orlando? It was one of those meals that was so good, my eyes rolled back into my head. It’s a heck of a lot more convenient than Domu (which has the excellent Richie Rich tonkotsu I reviewed earlier this year, pre-pandemic), and so much closer than Susuru, which I liked a lot, but it’s an hour from our door. So for multiple reasons, it might be my new favorite. It might become your new favorite too.
I couldn’t resist trying the mazesoba ($11), an order of savory ground pork with diced chashu, another ajitamago egg, strips of nori seaweed, and scallions over noodles. This is a brothless ramen dish, and it was still tasty, but the tonkotsu broth was so good, it was hard for the mazesoba to measure up. In the near future, I will try all the other forms of ramen at Ramen Takagi: shio (chicken bone broth with a salt base), shoyu (chicken bone broth with a soy base), and miso (pork and chicken blended broth, which can be ordered spicy or non-spicy).
This was kaedama, literally translated to an extra order of noodles, which were a very reasonable $1.50. I had considered adding them to any leftover tonkotsu broth, but instead my wife really enjoyed them with just a small splash of the broth.
These are onigiri, tasty triangles of seafood wrapped in sushi rice and wrapped again in delicious nori, the same thin sheets of crispy seaweed used for sushi rolls. I liked how these came wrapped in cellophane with a red stripe down the center that you pull to tear it open, and then release the cellophane from the sides.
I chose the tuna with mayo (left, $2.50) and the smoked salmon (right, $3). For the tuna with mayo, I was really expecting raw or seared ahi tuna, rich and purple, hopefully adorned with the orange spicy mayo I love so much with sushi, poke, and pretty much everything. I was surprised it was more like tuna salad. It wasn’t bad, just not at all what I expected. I liked the smoked salmon more, but even it was flakes of smoked salmon instead of… I don’t know if I expected thin slices of nova or belly lox or what. Still, as always, I’m so glad I tried them.
As I said, Ramen Takagi just opened a week ago, after the sign had been up for several months. I was starting to worry the restaurant might end up another casualty of 2020, and they might never open their doors at all. But they’re here, and they’re already off to a bang-up start. I was extremely impressed by their mask protocol, being alone in the shop without the prying eyes of concerned customers, and they had their masks on, taking things seriously before they could have possibly seen me approach. And I was just as impressed by the quality of my takeout food.
I’m so glad to have another great restaurant near our home, along with a much closer and quicker source for one of my favorite dishes, tonkotsu ramen. When I was in college, eating instant Nissin noodles that cost a buck for seven salty single servings, I never would have dreamed that over 20 years later, I’d have a wonderful wife, make an okay living, write a food blog that a handful of people actually read, or pay $13 for a bowl of delicious, beautiful, fresh ramen without thinking twice about it. It makes me feel very lucky to be where I am, doing what I’m doing, and eating what I’m eating. I intend to become a regular at Ramen Takagi, and I encourage my dozens of readers to do the same!