Nishikawa Ramen

3141 E. Indian School Road, Phoenix 85016

If you went to college, you’re probably familiar with ramen. When most people experience this Japanese dish, the setting is usually a dorm room or a first apartment with very little furniture, and preparation is as easy as it gets. All it takes is opening that orange package, pouring water over the rock-hard noodles, heating it up, and you’ve got a cheap meal that can fill you up. 

But there’s more to ramen than cheap instant. A lot more in fact, as the true dish is a complex combination of taste and texture. Those looking to try an authentic bowl can now do so nearby, at the newly opened Nishikawa Ramen. Although there are many different types and styles of true ramen, most consist of wheat noodles served in a hot meat-based broth, flavored with soy sauce or miso, and topped with a variety of meats and vegetables. 

Nishikawa Ramen opened their first location in Chandler before expanding to Arcadia back in April. The inside of the restaurant is small, with a handful of tables and booths for those looking to dine in. Carrying out is a big part of the service at Nishikawa, and the process of ordering food and walking out was quick and painless. 

There are several different appetizers to start off with, including pork gyoza, which are pan-fried pot stickers with pork and vegetables, served with ponzu sauce, and deep fried spring rolls. Other options include Nishikawa bowls, which are a mixture of fresh vegetables mixed with meat or fish. 

But the star of the show is, of course, the ramen. There are multiple offerings in this department, but we would highly suggest the Nishikawa Black. Like all the other ramen options (except for the vegetarian version) the dish is served in a traditional pork broth. The flavor of the broth might be the standout of the entire experience. The texture is rich and creamy, with a powerful taste of garlic and saltiness. It takes the cooks at Nishikawa 20 hours of boiling before the broth is ready to go. 

The meat of this dish is pork chashu, which is slow cooked pork belly. The chashu is perfectly soft, not dry at all.  The toppings served included green onion, fried onion, seaweed, egg and sesame seeds. The noodles are chewy and flavorful, made from scratch each morning, and you’ll get a ton of them. Come hungry, as eating all of this in a single sitting will be a tall task. 

Overall, Nishikawa is exactly what one would hope for, giving those of us who have never been to Japan a chance to taste authentic ramen. If a restaurant can make you crave a steaming hot bowl of food in 110-degree weather, they must be doing something right.