Back at the beginning of December, I was visiting family in Ann Arbor, and took the opportunity to check out Tomukun, one of the surprising number of ramen joints they have.
Here's Our Rating Out of 5:
Tomukun is the only ramen place in Ann Arbor where I've eaten. So, I can't say how it compares to other places in Ann Arbor. What I can say, is that the ramen was fine, but not great. That said, their pork buns were pretty darn good, and they have a great selection of Japanese beer!
They also offer a bunch of other Japanese food options and even some Phở, but this isn't a blog about other options. So, let's get to the ramen.
Their signature Tomukun Ramen is a classic shoyu with a pork stock base. The broth was fine; it had a good umami complexity while being light, but not watery. However, it was way too salty! It could have done with about half the salt. The broth also had a stronger nori flavor than most. It wasn't bad, but depending on how much you like seaweed it could be less appealing for some. Their noodles were good. They were cooked very well and had a good amount of chewiness. The toppings were a mixed bag. The Fish cake, scallions, and menma were typical. The spinach was over-cooked. It seemed like it had been cooking in a the broth for a bit before it was served and it was so cooked it was kinda mushy. I like my spinach just barely cooked with the tiniest bit of crunch left. So, I found it to be disappointing. The egg was medium boiled, which in my opinion is overcooked for ramen. I prefer my yolk runny so it clings to the noodles, but besides that the egg was good. The real hero of this dish, without a question, was the pork! It had the perfect fat to meat ratio. It was bursting with flavor, and it was melt in your mouth tender! This was the same pork that was in their pork buns, and it was great! If the other toppings were on par with the pork, the toppings rating for this bowl would be 4.5...
Butter Corn Ramen
I've never seen a ramen like this one at another slurp shop, and I think it may be the most American take of ramen out there. I can't really think of anything more American than taking dish of questionable healthiness (Pro Tip: don't check your blood pressure after eating a bowl of ramen) and adding not only fried chicken, but bits of fried tempura batter too. The broth was good with the same pork base as the Tomukun, but with less salt! You can definitely taste the butter from the buttered corn. Now, that is not to say that it was too buttery, because it wasn't. If you like butter, it's great. You taste it, but it's not overpowering. Butter is a popular topping in Japan and it was fine, but I didn't feel like I needed it. If you don't like butter, good for you; I'm sure your doctor is thrilled. Don't order this ramen. The toppings were the already mentioned tempura fried chicken, tempura batter, and buttered sweet corn along with menma, egg, scallions, nori shavings, and white onion. The chicken tasted good, but I have to say I don't get the idea of fried chicken in soup. One of the beautiful things about fried food is the crunchy texture, and when you put that in a liquid for an extended period of time, you get soggy breading. Not exactly a desirable texture... I get the fried tempura batter even less. Ever bit into a chicken nugget only to realize there was no chicken? The first time I did that I was 4, and it scarred me for life. I guess one could argue that it functions like crackers in other soups, but when I bit into the batter I was hoping for chicken and my 4 year old memories came rushing back... I do however, get corn in soup and particularly in ramen! In fact, it's one of my go to additions. The other toppings and noodles were the same as the Tomukun pretty typical, nothing really stood out about them.
Would I go back for Ramen? Maybe, maybe not. I can tell you that next time I'm in Ann Arbor I'm gonna be checking out the other ramen options. However, if I wanted some other Japanese food, or just some awesome pork buns and a Hitachino, Tomukun would do the Trick!
Tomukun Noodle Bar Address:
505 East Liberty Street #200, Ann Arbor, MI 48104
grew up as a nomad, and currently calls New York home. When he's not slurping noodles he's editing stuff for TV. He's a quarter Japanese and has been using chopsticks since he can remember. His go to ramen order: Spicy shoyu with wavy noodles.