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In The Soup

It’s been a year since the ramen burger craze first swept the nation and by sheer coincidence, here I am, writing about a ramen burger again this week. This time from CoZara, a newly opened Izakaya (Japanese Pub) in University City. I was really excited to check out their version since announcing “Ramen Sundays” a few weeks ago, where their ramen burger – topped with spicy mayo, ginger ketchup, Gruyere cheese, red onion, tomato, arugula & a fried egg – is featured from 2-8 PM (it’s not offered on their regular menu). So I ordered my burger and I waited.

And waited.

And waited.

My boyfriend ordered a bowl of pork belly ramen, which came out, cooled and he finished eating it before my food even hit the table. I was worried that there was some kind of miscommunication with the order since 1) the waitress put the bowl of ramen in the middle of the table thinking we were splitting it and 2) neither our server/bartender or the waitress made any mention of their being a delay with my food either when they brought the ramen, took the ramen away, or refilled my water glass after another five minutes of waiting. I understand that putting together ramen buns may have taken a while to prepare, but any indication of that from the staff either when I ordered or when food/drinks were brought to the table would have put me a little more at ease.

But finally, just as I was about to call it a day, my burger arrived! Served with a side of fried lotus chips, this thing was a beast.

First word of advice: LEAVE THE STICK IN! It is impossible to eat this burger any other way. Second: The ramen bun was extremely thick, hot & greasy, so you may not be able to pick it up right away (even if you have been waiting over 25 minutes for your food). But despite the service snafu and it’s monstrous appearance, the burger actually had a lot of flavor. The patty itself is cooked more in the Japanese “Hamburg” style, so more similar to a meatloaf than your traditionally burger. The meat was flavored and mixed with herbs & egg and cooked all the way through. Hamburg steak was actually one of my favorite things to eat in Japan, so I kind of enjoyed that little twist. And while it was a pain to eat the thick, soggy noodle bun, it was rather tasty (even if I did eventually just give up on it altogether). I think if the noodles in the bun had been drier and fried more, and the patty maybe thinned out a little bit, this burger could definitely have been a winner (Or maybe the ramen burger craze is just past its prime!)

Burger rating: “C”

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Cheu Carefully

What’s that? You haven’t been to Cheu Noodle Bar yet? Well what are you waiting for!? Ever since their noodle pop-ups at Matyson last spring (and their previously controversial name), there’s been much buzz around Ben Puchowitz & Shawn Darragh’s Asian inspired cuisine. And now that they’ve finally secured their own brick & mortar spot, the only thing you have to worry about is beating the crowds to get there.

I stopped in on a Friday night around 7 and snagged a spot at the counter where you can see the chefs doing their thang, listen to funky fresh beats and check out the dope art lining the walls; this certainly isn’t your typical ramen spot, that’s for sure. I was waiting for a friend so I figured I’d get some appetizers in advance and promptly ordered up some pork belly dumplings that were on special, BBQ pig tails and some pork belly & cheeseburger buns to start, plus a bowl of ramen since it was a little bit chilly out. Everything came out quickly and was delicious – and good thing my friend didn’t show up right away because I’m not sure that I would have been willing to share!

BBQ Pig tails: fall off the bone delicious!

Pork belly dumplings in chili oil: because you can never get enough pork.

I don’t want none unless they got buns, hon.

Ramen: The broth was nice and rich. Bet it’s even better on cold days, too!

The menu is ever changing, with lots of weekly specials in addition to their small plates and noodle offerings. So bring a friend or two (or three), some beers (it’s BYOB) and head over to Cheu to order practically everything on the menu. Or check out their new lunch menu starting TODAY! (6/5) and every day (except Tuesdays) from 12-2 PM. Trust me, it’s worth it.

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