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  • High Five Ramen

    Post #1 - March 19th, 2018, 8:30 pm
    Post #1 - March 19th, 2018, 8:30 pm Post #1 - March 19th, 2018, 8:30 pm
    When craving ramen a couple weeks ago, I looked for guidance from Pigmon, the toughest ramen critic I know. He gave two recommendations: Santouka and High Five. Familiar with the greatness of Santouka but faced with a carless reality, I decided to try something new and made plans to go to High Five.

    We got to High Five on a Wednesday evening around 6:45. We'd heard the stories of the lines but figured the weather wasn't great, it was relatively early, and it was the middle of the week so we'd be okay. We were wrong. We were given an estimated wait time of 2.5 hours. We put our names down but left with no realistic intention of returning. Still hungry, we headed over to Cruz Blanca, Rick Bayless' latest venture.

    Around 9:00, just as we were wrapping up a mildly overindulgent Mexican meal, we received notification that spots were available in the small, dark underground ramen house that is High Five. Faced with the choice of eating ramen while stuffed or coming back for an awful wait at a later date with no idea whether it was worth it, we headed back over.

    Image
    High Five Ramen - Tonkotsu Full Spice

    The High Five Signature Ramen is a tonkotsu offered at three different spice levels, Full Spice, Half Spice, and No Spice. Our friendly server described the heat level of the Full Spice as the equivalent of spicy Thai food, which turned out to be, at least for me, a very clear and accurate description.

    It took a few slurps for my mouth to adjust to the fairly jarring spice level, but once I did, I began to savor an outstanding bowl of rich porky broth that had me kicking myself for waiting so long to try this place. That I liked it this much despite being full before I sat down has me especially eager to return.

    ImageOne fine egg

    It wasn't just the broth that was great - the tender slices of pork, the flawless egg, and the stellar noodles from Sun Noodles were all top tier. I'm looking forward to going back, though next time I'm going to give the half spice a shot with the expectation that on my third visit I'll ask if they're willing to do a 3/4 spice.

    There's actually fourth spice level tonkotsu on the menu, but it's listed as a separate type of ramen, Kanabo Spice. The restaurant strongly discourages people from ordering that one due to the intense spice involved. There are also three other varieties: shoyu, shio, and maitake, the latter being vegetarian.

    High Five has been open for almost four years and still has ridiculous lines. Part of that is because it only seats about 16 at a time, but the bigger reason is that this place is fantastic. LTH - we've missed the boat on this one.

    High Five Ramen
    112 N Green St
    Chicago, IL
    (312) 754-0431
    highfiveramen.com

    Edited for typos and to correct the number of seats
    Last edited by MarlaCollins'Husband on April 26th, 2018, 8:17 am, edited 2 times in total.
  • Post #2 - March 20th, 2018, 8:01 am
    Post #2 - March 20th, 2018, 8:01 am Post #2 - March 20th, 2018, 8:01 am
    I had a great meal there as well - my group and I all agreed that it was probably the best overall bowl of ramen we've had in Chicago, when you take all the components into account. We are all pretty in love with the broth at Wasabi, and there was a healthy debate whether this broth was better or not (consensus was....not quite). But still a remarkably delicious bowl of food.

    We arrived right around 5p after work during the week, there was already about 20 people in line, but we put our names down and were seated in about 45min, after we had a drink at Green Street. Timing actually was quite nice, and had us eating our bowls around 6p.
  • Post #3 - March 20th, 2018, 4:53 pm
    Post #3 - March 20th, 2018, 4:53 pm Post #3 - March 20th, 2018, 4:53 pm
    I had been so depressed by ramen lately. Then a couple of weeks ago, I got to try Mike Satinover's incredible ramen (featured in this Chicago Tribune article) at a pop-up at Paulie Gee's. It was fantastic and reinvigorated me - easily the best bowl I've had in Chicago.

    Last weekend, I had a fantastic bowl at Nakamura in New York (even better).

    Which brings me to High Five. Two prior attempts to try its ramen failed as I was quoted anywhere from 2 to 3 hour waits and did not have the time to wait. But while speaking to Mike at the pop-up, he mentioned that he's a fan of High Five (mentioned in the article too). He recommended the half spice.

    So yesterday, I went to High Five with my sister, arriving just before 5 and getting seated immediately upon it opening. We both ordered the half spice, me the shoyu, my sister the maitake.

    I was impressed with my shoyu. If I was king, I would've demanded one-third rather than half spice. I just found the spice heat interfered with the other flavors just a bit. I also found it to be just a bit too smoky. Aside from those issues, some nice flavors, including from the addition of menma. Also, the egg was perfectly cooked, and I'll never complain when someone uses the lovely, chewy Sun noodles. But while the chashu pork was beautifully tender, it was not the beauty Mike Satinover offers, i.e., with a gorgeous, finishing char. Still, a very respectable bowl.

    Image
    Shoyu ramen, half spice



    The maitake was also very nice, though again the same spice issue. Also, I thought I detected soy sauce and too much of that. It punched me in the face just a bit hard. But again, a very respectable bowl.

    ImageMaitake ramen, half spice



    Aside from the ramen (generous portions too), the service was great - very friendly counter service. But if you plan on visiting High Five, and you don't want to wait for 2 or more hours, you're advised to get there by 5 or soon thereafter, or later in the evening (or so our server told me).
  • Post #4 - March 21st, 2018, 7:50 am
    Post #4 - March 21st, 2018, 7:50 am Post #4 - March 21st, 2018, 7:50 am
    BR wrote:Aside from the ramen (generous portions too), the service was great - very friendly counter service. But if you plan on visiting High Five, and you don't want to wait for 2 or more hours, you're advised to get there by 5 or soon thereafter, or later in the evening (or so our server told me).


    Any idea how much later than 5 pm? This sounds like how I would eat at GNR Great Lake before it shuttered. Get there before the bell rings or just plan that you can go wander around, etc. before eating.

    Oh and should I drive or get down there sans car?
    Ava-"If you get down and out, just get in the kitchen and bake a cake."- Jean Strickland

    Horto In Urbs- Falling in love with Urban Vegetable Gardening
  • Post #5 - March 21st, 2018, 8:06 am
    Post #5 - March 21st, 2018, 8:06 am Post #5 - March 21st, 2018, 8:06 am
    That area is pretty easy to find parking if you don;t mind walking a few blocks, but it is also very easy to reach via public transportation so its really six of one half dozen of the other.
  • Post #6 - March 21st, 2018, 8:13 am
    Post #6 - March 21st, 2018, 8:13 am Post #6 - March 21st, 2018, 8:13 am
    pairs4life wrote:
    BR wrote:Aside from the ramen (generous portions too), the service was great - very friendly counter service. But if you plan on visiting High Five, and you don't want to wait for 2 or more hours, you're advised to get there by 5 or soon thereafter, or later in the evening (or so our server told me).


    Any idea how much later than 5 pm? This sounds like how I would eat at GNR Great Lake before it shuttered. Get there before the bell rings or just plan that you can go wander around, etc. before eating.

    Oh and should I drive or get down there sans car?


    Depends on the day as well - Friday/Saturday are always the worst. I got there at maybe 4:50p and there were 20 people in line. I feel like anything past 5:15p and you're looking at a huge wait. But, obviously things vary day to day. Plus, if you get there at 5:20p and you have to wait two hours, in that area, I sorta feel like....so what? They take your cell and text you when the table is ready, and you can go to any of the thousand interesting places around there for an appetizer or a couple drinks. That's what we were planning to do when we went, but just got lucky to arrive right before the rush. I also had a hard time not picking some of Green Street's sausage off a passing tray as I was waiting in line...

    You can certainly bring a car if you prefer - if it is a weekday, as people start heading to West Loop for dinner, an equal or larger group of people leave West Loop to head home for work, so parking is actually fairly manageable. But, I also have a high tolerance for parking situations, so everyone's experience may not be the same. That particular block in front of High Five (Green Street Meats) is particularly disastrous since the SoHo House is right across the street, which is a never ending conga line of valet vehicles and Uber drop offs.
  • Post #7 - March 21st, 2018, 8:18 am
    Post #7 - March 21st, 2018, 8:18 am Post #7 - March 21st, 2018, 8:18 am
    Yeah, I'd say after 5:15 it's going to be at least an hour wait. Our server said that the people she says around 7pm or the like tend to be neighborhood folks she sees more often because they are the ones who can typically afford to just put their names in and disappear for a while. But our server also said Monday is probably the best day . . . and that was when I went this time.
  • Post #8 - March 21st, 2018, 9:06 am
    Post #8 - March 21st, 2018, 9:06 am Post #8 - March 21st, 2018, 9:06 am
    Thanks. As the weather gets busy I don't mind grabbing a Divvy. This area used to be preferred for being able to drive and park readily but I find it less so the last year or so.
    Ava-"If you get down and out, just get in the kitchen and bake a cake."- Jean Strickland

    Horto In Urbs- Falling in love with Urban Vegetable Gardening
  • Post #9 - March 21st, 2018, 11:57 am
    Post #9 - March 21st, 2018, 11:57 am Post #9 - March 21st, 2018, 11:57 am
    I was with the lovely "Mr. Collins" at the visit that prompted him to start this thread (was also my first visit). I too really enjoyed the tonkotsu quite a bit. The heat of full-spice was pleasant but for me, it interfered a bit with actually being able to taste the broth clearly. Next time, to establish a meaningful baseline, I'll likely opt for no spice (they do have pots of chili oil on the counter).

    I definitely enjoyed my bowl and felt that what I could discern of the broth was tasty. Egg, pork and noodles were all notably more enjoyable for me than any other takes I've had in town. Leaving the egg whole really makes sense. The pork was not over-seasoned and the noodles had great flavor, and a nice slightly sticky texture.

    Bottom line is that this is a quality bowl and while maybe not worthy of a 2.5 hour wait, certainly worth working out a logistics scheme that eventually gets you face to face with a bowl.

    =R=
    By protecting others, you save yourself. If you only think of yourself, you'll only destroy yourself. --Kambei Shimada

    Every human interaction is an opportunity for disappointment --RS

    That don't impress me much --Shania Twain
  • Post #10 - March 21st, 2018, 1:36 pm
    Post #10 - March 21st, 2018, 1:36 pm Post #10 - March 21st, 2018, 1:36 pm
    I would have agreed with this thread on my first visit where we had an excellent standard and special crab ramen.

    We were much less enamored with our second visit. The standard bowl had too heavy a hand with all the spices, particularly the Sichuan peppercorns, that masked an insipid broth. It certainly didn't warrant the excessive wait or (bad) hipster environment.
  • Post #11 - March 21st, 2018, 2:56 pm
    Post #11 - March 21st, 2018, 2:56 pm Post #11 - March 21st, 2018, 2:56 pm
    I haven't been in a few years, but always felt that the spice levels were not terribly scientific. Unless you really love heat, no-spice is likely the way to go.

    Cheers,

    Chico
  • Post #12 - March 22nd, 2018, 2:45 pm
    Post #12 - March 22nd, 2018, 2:45 pm Post #12 - March 22nd, 2018, 2:45 pm
    BR wrote:I had been so depressed by ramen lately. Then a couple of weeks ago, I got to try Mike Satinover's incredible ramen (featured in this Chicago Tribune article) at a pop-up at Paulie Gee's. It was fantastic and reinvigorated me - easily the best bowl I've had in Chicago.


    Oh, hey! We might've met at that event then (I was the other cook helping Mike out).

    REALLY glad to hear that you enjoyed the bowl that much! We're definitely hoping that people enjoy the next event (this Tuesday) and any others that we can arrange at Paulie Gee's or other spaces.
  • Post #13 - March 22nd, 2018, 4:44 pm
    Post #13 - March 22nd, 2018, 4:44 pm Post #13 - March 22nd, 2018, 4:44 pm
    Behavioral wrote:
    BR wrote:I had been so depressed by ramen lately. Then a couple of weeks ago, I got to try Mike Satinover's incredible ramen (featured in this Chicago Tribune article) at a pop-up at Paulie Gee's. It was fantastic and reinvigorated me - easily the best bowl I've had in Chicago.


    Oh, hey! We might've met at that event then (I was the other cook helping Mike out).

    REALLY glad to hear that you enjoyed the bowl that much! We're definitely hoping that people enjoy the next event (this Tuesday) and any others that we can arrange at Paulie Gee's or other spaces.

    Oh, yeah . . . we spoke at the end of the 5:30 sitting (at the end of the counter). Good to know. I avoided trying to get tix for the second event figuring it might be nice to let others try it out.
  • Post #14 - March 23rd, 2018, 6:28 am
    Post #14 - March 23rd, 2018, 6:28 am Post #14 - March 23rd, 2018, 6:28 am
    Behavioral wrote:
    BR wrote:I had been so depressed by ramen lately. Then a couple of weeks ago, I got to try Mike Satinover's incredible ramen (featured in this Chicago Tribune article) at a pop-up at Paulie Gee's. It was fantastic and reinvigorated me - easily the best bowl I've had in Chicago.


    Oh, hey! We might've met at that event then (I was the other cook helping Mike out).

    REALLY glad to hear that you enjoyed the bowl that much! We're definitely hoping that people enjoy the next event (this Tuesday) and any others that we can arrange at Paulie Gee's or other spaces.


    Hey, can you let me know how to get tickets for upcoming events? Thanks!
  • Post #15 - March 27th, 2018, 11:56 am
    Post #15 - March 27th, 2018, 11:56 am Post #15 - March 27th, 2018, 11:56 am
    knitgirl wrote:
    Behavioral wrote:
    BR wrote:I had been so depressed by ramen lately. Then a couple of weeks ago, I got to try Mike Satinover's incredible ramen (featured in this Chicago Tribune article) at a pop-up at Paulie Gee's. It was fantastic and reinvigorated me - easily the best bowl I've had in Chicago.


    Oh, hey! We might've met at that event then (I was the other cook helping Mike out).

    REALLY glad to hear that you enjoyed the bowl that much! We're definitely hoping that people enjoy the next event (this Tuesday) and any others that we can arrange at Paulie Gee's or other spaces.


    Hey, can you let me know how to get tickets for upcoming events? Thanks!


    You can buy tickets when available here: https://www.exploretock.com/akahoshiramen/

    You can look for announcement for sale dates (usually 2 weeks before the event) on Mike's IG (https://www.instagram.com/ramenover/) or my IG (https://www.instagram.com/kennyoyama/). Tickets have sold out in under 30 seconds for the first two events (the problem with only having 60 seats per event), so you'll want to set an alarm or something to make sure you're ready to purchase as soon as the tickets are released.
  • Post #16 - March 29th, 2018, 2:14 am
    Post #16 - March 29th, 2018, 2:14 am Post #16 - March 29th, 2018, 2:14 am
    Amazing.
    I believe we have not missed the boat on High Five Ramen. I seem to believe I posted images of it here on LTHF in the ramen thread. :| {future edit?}
    I am pretty sure I've scribed I am not a fan of highly-spiced cuisine. In comparison, when I had Keizo Shimamoto's first breakout hit, a Green Curry Ramen, at Bassanova in Shin-Daita, Tokyo, I did not enjoy it as much as the first bowl I had had there, a tondatsu wadasisoba, which was the shack's top seller (and thus, in the upper left corner of the ticket order machine).
    The main reason I respond is because when Brendan Sodikoff went to Tokyo to research ramen shacks, he linked with the above linked Brian Mac Duckston. The shack which B. Sodikoff most enjoyed was @ Kikanbo Ramen. I bolded ramen because Kikanbo is actually two shacks adjacent: One shack having ramen, the other stand featuring tsukemen.
    In April 2017, I got to Kikanbo. If you had collared {oops} me at the LTH Holiday Party, I had the Ramen Walker Tokyo 2018 recommended shacks guide, and Kikanbo is listed.
    I went for futsu, futsu in my bowl, and I thought it was pretty good. I didn't perceive it was too fiery. Maybe my tongue is changing, or maybe it is that I've read that spicy cuisine alleviates asthma symptions.
    The point I strive to make here is that B. Sodikoff has molded the prime bowl @ High Five Ramen after that of Kikanbo's fiery ramen.
    The astounding element I will offer here is that, Tuesday night, I was out-&-about @ Cruz Blanca Cerveceria, and a cousin who never responds to voice mail messages actually turned up @ CBLB, when I was about to post to Twitter a note about Cinema Wasteland in suburban Cleveland. If you check my Twitter timeline (right now), you may notice that that became the last tweet. We actually discussed if we wanted to walk over to High Five Ramen. A Google map showing the path from CBLB to H5R was culled. Upon learning in this thread we could have faced a two-hour wait, we made the proper decision to sit tight. 8) But I encourage other people to try High Five Ramen's bowls. I think it's good, perhaps moreso if you can handle or enjoy highly spiced cuisine.
    Valuable links for survival, without the monetization attempt: http://74.115.231.54/~pudgym29/bookmark4.html
  • Post #17 - April 26th, 2018, 8:14 am
    Post #17 - April 26th, 2018, 8:14 am Post #17 - April 26th, 2018, 8:14 am
    Made it back to High Five Ramen last night and am happy to report my second visit was as positive as my first. After the enjoyable but very hot full spice last time, I opted for the half spice tonkotsu. It has has a really nice kick but the porkiness of the broth shines through from the start (the full spice takes several bites to get used to). I also tasted my dining companions no spice tonkotsu and also found that to be a fantastic soup as well. I'm still partial to some heat, but it's clear that adding spice here is not a gimmick at all. The ramen, at least the signature tonkotsu, is a destination worthy bowl.

    In addition to selecting a broth and heat level, there are a few optional add-ons available. If you're hungry, I highly recommend dropping the $3 for an extra bowl of noodles. A couple of us have mentioned the Sun noodles here already and I really can't emphasize enough how good they are compared to other options in town.

    I also learned that the long waits at High Five seem like they're by design. We got there about five minutes before the 5:00 opening and were in the first seating. The menu consists of nothing other than ramen and drinks, but the first six bowls didn't go out until 5:18, followed by four more at 5:27 and another four at 5:34, at which time people just showing up were quoted a wait of an hour to an hour and a half.

    It seems like the best strategy is to get to High Five Ramen at 5:30 or 6:00 fully planning on grabbing a drink or two at one of the many nearby options while waiting for a table. Or else moving to the West Loop. Whichever is easier.
  • Post #18 - December 30th, 2020, 9:56 am
    Post #18 - December 30th, 2020, 9:56 am Post #18 - December 30th, 2020, 9:56 am
    The snow storm caused us to cancel our anniversary dinner at Gibson's Italia last night.

    We decided, based on a recent article elsewhere to try High Five Ramen.

    Oh, how I wish I had reviewed this thread prior to ordering. We had no idea what we were getting but we both ordered our respective bowls full spiced. I ended up angry that all nuance of the broth was lost in the heat of full spice. It seemed like a joke, like one of those novelty hot sauces that is so hot that it adds no flavor to the dish just heat.

    I guess I am back to checking here first for any new outings.
    Ava-"If you get down and out, just get in the kitchen and bake a cake."- Jean Strickland

    Horto In Urbs- Falling in love with Urban Vegetable Gardening

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