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Akahoshi Ramen (former Pop-Up Restaurant)

Akahoshi Ramen (former Pop-Up Restaurant)
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  • Post #31 - December 5th, 2023, 8:42 pm
    Post #31 - December 5th, 2023, 8:42 pm Post #31 - December 5th, 2023, 8:42 pm
    boudreaulicious wrote:
    gastro gnome wrote:I went this evening.

    We showed up right at 5 and there was a line out the door. We missed the the first seating and were quoted an hour for a party of 2.

    Pretty close to an hour later, we got a text and headed over.

    We split the miso with an egg and the tantanmen.

    The miso was excellent - super deep flavor, perfect chashu and egg. I probbaly would get an add-on of bean sprouts (some came with it but I probably could have done with more) and green onion if I did it again. Hard to critique this bowl much. I think I enjoyed it more than at one of the previous dinner's he organized.

    I thought the tantanmen was fine. Maybe a touch on the salty side and in a sauceless dish, the coarseness of the peppercorns really stood out. I think I would have ground them slightly finer. I probably would opt for something else next time.

    I'd return for the miso alone, but I'm interested in checking out the shoyu. The menu is extremely short (2 broth, 2 brothless preps). I hope they round it out with some rotating flavors/specials and maybe an option for a simple vegetable or two. But it's day 3 or something so they are getting their feet underneath them still. Perhaps in time.


    I think folks worried about not getting in or long waits are forgetting that all you can order is a bowl or two of noodles—it just isn’t set up for a long dining experience. Assuming they’re efficient getting the bowls out and stick to the plan of leaving a fair number of seats for walk-ins, I’d imagine there are plenty of turns so that no one would be waiting that long.


    I grabbed a solo reservation last Tuesday and can confirm I was in and out of there in less than 30 minutes. Probably would've been sooner but I was nursing a drink.

    The miso is a perfect bowl of food. It was exactly what I wanted on that freezing night. Can't wait to try the other 3 bowls in the coming weeks.
  • Post #32 - December 5th, 2023, 8:47 pm
    Post #32 - December 5th, 2023, 8:47 pm Post #32 - December 5th, 2023, 8:47 pm
    gastro gnome wrote:I agree. Based on today, they were estimating a 1 hour table turn. Seemed about right for this experience.

    I should note that obviously folks with reservations were taken care of right away. And it seemed like a good number of people without reservations from the line were seated. I just got there a bit too late.

    There are plenty of places nearby to grab a drink if you're OK to wait for a bit. We grabbed apps and a drink at Mi Tocaya and headed over when our table was ready.

    For the record, I am not casting any judgment on the process. I am just trying to report my experience for others to get an idea of what it might be like so soon after opening.


    Thanks for the detailed report. I’m excited to go!
    "Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit; wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad." Miles Kington
  • Post #33 - December 17th, 2023, 12:22 pm
    Post #33 - December 17th, 2023, 12:22 pm Post #33 - December 17th, 2023, 12:22 pm
    In 2018, MarlaCollins'Husband wrote:Hopefully (presumably?), these pop-ups are the start of an exploration of the feasibility of opening a restaurant. If that happens, you're potentially looking at an addition to the Chicago dining scene along the lines of Birrieria Zaragoza and Hot Doug's and pre-expansion Hoosier Mama - an uber-focused restaurant making something that leaves every competitor fighting for honor of being a distant second in town.
    With apologies to Menya Goku and Chicago Ramen (which are better than anything that existed here 5 years ago), I was right.

    This place is in the discussion with LA's Tsujita and New York's Ramen Shack (RIP) as the best I've had.

    Image
    Image
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    Akahoshi Miso. Blend of misos, homemade crinkly Sapporo-style noodles, plenty of lard. Topped with beansprouts, green onions, menma bamboo shoots, pork chashu w/ ajitama egg add on.

    This was just a fantastic bowl of porky umami excellence. Every component was great. The egg yolk may have been a smidge liquidy but who cares. The egg is gilding the lily. And for another data point, the yolk in the bowl next to mine was a perfect custard texture. This is a stunning bowl of soup.

    I happened to be on Instagram when the initial release of reservation slots was publicly announced so I was able to get a prime Saturday night table. Now that the secret is out, it could be a while before I get back. So it was decided before we got to the restaurant that we'd be adding a second bowl to share.

    Image
    Soupless Tantanmen, based loosely on Dandan noodles. Extra thick noodles, ma-la spice, sesame. Topped with pork soboro, chili oil, bok choi

    Another absolute stunner. Every component is great and the whole is better than its parts. I would recommend buying extra chili oil for this one because it did not have much of a kick. This one does get a little messy because of the sesame paste/pork fat glue that holds the noodles together. Note: it comes with one more bok choi but one of my dining companions couldn't wait.

    Service is friendly and efficient. We definitely didn't feel rushed but this is not a place for a leisurely meal. I suspect the business model requires quick turnover. There is still room for improvement. Both cocktails we tried were merely okay, but that's easy to fix.

    Bottom line: this place should be a high priority for everyone to visit. Reservations are released at noon on Mondays for the week that's a month out. As others have noted, walking in is very doable especially if you're up for killing time with a drink nearby (Revolution and Spilt Milk are both within a block).
  • Post #34 - December 17th, 2023, 7:48 pm
    Post #34 - December 17th, 2023, 7:48 pm Post #34 - December 17th, 2023, 7:48 pm
    Agreed with MarlaCollins'Husband, this spot is legit.

    Buddy and I ordered 2 bowls:

    Classic Shoyu
    Memories of the past, the original ramen. Clear soup, dashi elements, homemade Sapporo-style noodles. Topped with green onions, nori, menma bamboo shoots, pork chashu
    Image

    Akahoshi Miso
    The namesake of the shop. Blend of misos, homemade crinkly Sapporo-style noodles, plenty of lard. Topped with beansprouts, green onions, menma bamboo shoots, pork chashu
    Image

    The Classic Shoyu was great -- a well balanced, easy slurper compared to the Akahoshi Miso. The Shoyu felt like a powerful jab whereas the Miso is a roundhouse kick that sweeps you off your feet.

    The Ajitama Eggs are fantastic, but come at an additional cost of $2.
  • Post #35 - December 18th, 2023, 12:07 pm
    Post #35 - December 18th, 2023, 12:07 pm Post #35 - December 18th, 2023, 12:07 pm
    Hilarious data point for those trying to make reservations. They released 1/23 - 1/27 at 12:00 today. By 12:02, Saturday was fully taken (though one was released and then snapped up a minute or so later). Currently (12:07), there's a 5:30 on Friday and several slots on Tuesday-Thursday still available. They won't last.
  • Post #36 - December 18th, 2023, 12:21 pm
    Post #36 - December 18th, 2023, 12:21 pm Post #36 - December 18th, 2023, 12:21 pm
    MarlaCollins'Husband wrote:Hilarious data point for those trying to make reservations. They released 1/23 - 1/27 at 12:00 today. By 12:02, Saturday was fully taken (though one was released and then snapped up a minute or so later). Currently (12:07), there's a 5:30 on Friday and several slots on Tuesday-Thursday still available. They won't last.

    My son had success just walking in on Friday. He lined up at about 4:45 and was seated almost immediately after they opened at 5pm. He was out of there by about 5:40. I realize this approach isn't practical for everyone but it highlights what others have posted/said about the place being accessible, and that turn-over is brisk. This is not a eat and linger type of spot.

    =R=
    Same planet, different world
  • Post #37 - December 18th, 2023, 12:28 pm
    Post #37 - December 18th, 2023, 12:28 pm Post #37 - December 18th, 2023, 12:28 pm
    MarlaCollins'Husband wrote:Hilarious data point for those trying to make reservations. They released 1/23 - 1/27 at 12:00 today. By 12:02, Saturday was fully taken (though one was released and then snapped up a minute or so later). Currently (12:07), there's a 5:30 on Friday and several slots on Tuesday-Thursday still available. They won't last.


    I was able to get 6pm reservation for Saturday 1/27 for 4. I did notice the reservations were open up a couple minutes prior to noon (11:58 for me) for those looking to get spots in the future.
  • Post #38 - December 18th, 2023, 3:15 pm
    Post #38 - December 18th, 2023, 3:15 pm Post #38 - December 18th, 2023, 3:15 pm
    Was in there for a reservation 830 on Wednesday night and there wasn't anyone walking in. Heads up if anyone wants to try without a reservation during the week
  • Post #39 - December 18th, 2023, 4:25 pm
    Post #39 - December 18th, 2023, 4:25 pm Post #39 - December 18th, 2023, 4:25 pm
    ronnie_suburban wrote:He lined up at about 4:45 and was seated almost immediately after they opened at 5pm. He was out of there by about 5:40. I realize this approach isn't practical for everyone but it highlights what others have posted/said about the place being accessible, and that turn-over is brisk. This is not a eat and linger type of spot.


    My reservation was for 8pm at the counter, which was full. When it was 8:01, our host went up to 2 folks at the end of the bar who had finished, paid, and hung around conversing and kindly informed them that patrons were waiting and asked if they could continue their conversation outside.
  • Post #40 - December 18th, 2023, 7:02 pm
    Post #40 - December 18th, 2023, 7:02 pm Post #40 - December 18th, 2023, 7:02 pm
    incite wrote:
    ronnie_suburban wrote:He lined up at about 4:45 and was seated almost immediately after they opened at 5pm. He was out of there by about 5:40. I realize this approach isn't practical for everyone but it highlights what others have posted/said about the place being accessible, and that turn-over is brisk. This is not a eat and linger type of spot.


    My reservation was for 8pm at the counter, which was full. When it was 8:01, our host went up to 2 folks at the end of the bar who had finished, paid, and hung around conversing and kindly informed them that patrons were waiting and asked if they could continue their conversation outside.


    I love it—he’s being clear that this is about experiencing his ramen. There are other places you can go to hang out.
    "Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit; wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad." Miles Kington
  • Post #41 - December 19th, 2023, 9:52 am
    Post #41 - December 19th, 2023, 9:52 am Post #41 - December 19th, 2023, 9:52 am
    boudreaulicious wrote:
    incite wrote:My reservation was for 8pm at the counter, which was full. When it was 8:01, our host went up to 2 folks at the end of the bar who had finished, paid, and hung around conversing and kindly informed them that patrons were waiting and asked if they could continue their conversation outside.
    I love it—he’s being clear that this is about experiencing his ramen. There are other places you can go to hang out.
    Yep. And they make it clear on the reservations page and in the confirmation emails that parties of 2 are limited to an hour, 3-6 are 90 minutes, and 7+ are 2 hours.
  • Post #42 - December 26th, 2023, 10:32 am
    Post #42 - December 26th, 2023, 10:32 am Post #42 - December 26th, 2023, 10:32 am
    He's a good guy.

    I hope he has much success.

    Met him through the Chicago Bread Club in the before times.
    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 #43 - December 26th, 2023, 8:36 pm
    Post #43 - December 26th, 2023, 8:36 pm Post #43 - December 26th, 2023, 8:36 pm
    I might have posted this previously; but with the enhanced attention the shack is getting, feel it is appropriate to reinstate.
    Podcasts with Mike Satinover (Ramen Lord):
    They are all worth listening to. I send you to a W-WW page where you can download each onto a storage drive of your choice.
    Yes, I will get into the shack one of these days. But it will take a little while.
    Valuable links for survival, without the monetization attempt: https://pqrs-ltd.xyz/bookmark4.html
  • Post #44 - January 7th, 2024, 2:12 pm
    Post #44 - January 7th, 2024, 2:12 pm Post #44 - January 7th, 2024, 2:12 pm
    Here is Mike Satinover's The Ramen_Lord Book of Ramen which he shared on google docs for free to anyone! He could have published this as a book and sold it on Amazon and I'm sure many would have bought it. Mike shares this link via a AMA (Ask Me Anything) thread on reddit.

    https://docs.google.com/document/d/1qLP ... 0l4m8xqvdo

    R/ChicagoFood AMA: Mike Satinover, AKA Ramen Lord
    https://www.reddit.com/r/chicagofood/co ... amen_lord/
  • Post #45 - January 28th, 2024, 4:18 pm
    Post #45 - January 28th, 2024, 4:18 pm Post #45 - January 28th, 2024, 4:18 pm
    Image
    Tried the "limited edition" special Akayu Spicy Miso Ramen. Here's the description: "Born in the 50s in Yamagata, this style of miso ramen may be just as old as Sapporo-style ramen. Katsuobushi and pork both, creamy miso, hand-massaged noodles. Topped with pork belly chashu, green onions, menma, aonori, and a signature spicy miso ball."

    It was excellent. I didn't like it as much as the Akahoshi Miso, but that's an incredibly high bar. As was the case with with the Soupless Tantanmen, I was expecting a little more kick here but I get why there isn't. At least I think I do. So much work goes into the development of the more subtle flavors that I suspect Santinover doesn't want to overpower that with spice. I certainly could have ordered a side of chili oil if I really wanted it but I was busy inhaling everything in the bowl.

    I don't know why eggs aren't included in these bowls as I couldn't imagine ordering a bowl without it, but it's certainly not a big deal to add one. I might start adding two. They're exceptional.

    Image
    There are only three sides on the menu: rice, rice with chopped pork chashu, and the Ikura Rice bowl we got, which is rice with salmon roe. There was something else in the bowl - I think furikake. I don't think anyone's going to get blown away by any version of this anywhere, but it was nice.

    On a rainy Saturday night, the place was packed from when we sat down until we left. Service remains friendly and efficient.
  • Post #46 - February 29th, 2024, 2:26 pm
    Post #46 - February 29th, 2024, 2:26 pm Post #46 - February 29th, 2024, 2:26 pm
    Had a delicious bowl of ramen and a delightful overall experience last night. After failing on multiple occasions to secure a reservation, I was flying solo and decided to give it a shot. I arrived at 6:40 and was immediately seated at the communal table, with empty chairs immediately next to and across from me. I did hear a four-top ask to be moved to a booth, and they were told that booths are prioritized for reservations.

    Since it was my first visit, I chose the namesake Akahoshi Miso. The well-documented attention to detail was evident in each slurp. Everything about it--noodles, richness of broth, depth and balance of flavors, textures, cut and preparation of the pork--seemed perfect. The accompanying highball hit the spot too.

    Also, in this time of a lot of discussion and disappointment regarding how restaurants have changed, especially service and overall vibe, this was different. Heck, I think it would have even stood out in the before-times. It was nice to see that the line staff was collaborating with each other, laughing, and smiling, while still cooking and getting the job done. When I asked the server if they recommended adding the chili oil, they said no, and explained that it's a relatively mild spice, so the amount of oil that would be required to significantly change the flavor would alter the overall texture of the bowl. I appreciated this reasoning, and that they cared so much about the product that they discouraged the upsell. That's quality in every way! I look forward to returning!
  • Post #47 - May 29th, 2024, 7:04 pm
    Post #47 - May 29th, 2024, 7:04 pm Post #47 - May 29th, 2024, 7:04 pm
    at long last scored a reservation and: one of those meals when one cannot sustain a conversation because every few minutes it is necessary to exclaim again how f'ing delicious everything is. superb. just so so so much savory flavor - not too salty, not compensating with heat - wrought of pure time and technique. adding eggs is a must, and even the bamboo is utterly special.

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