I’ve been on a real ramen kick lately, and it’s probably because there’s nothing better than a piping hot bowl of soup on a wintry day. In addition to trying the seafood ramen at the new Plumb Oyster Bar in Troy last week, I also tried Tanpopo in Albany for the first time. And when a Yelp friend recently told me that the best ramen in the Capital District could actually be found somewhere else, I was totally fine with another lunch outing (for research purposes, of course).
The invaluable tip from my Yelp acquaintance was that the best ramen in the area is in fact offered at Sushi Tei on Western Ave in Guilderland. It’s only on the menu Sundays and Tuesdays, and only for dine-in customers. And you only get two options – spicy, or not.
The ramen is served in a wonderfully large portion, making it more than enough for a hearty meal. It had most of the classic ingredients – a seasoned hard boiled egg, scallions, and little chewy strips of mushroom – plus the unexpected addition of seasoned bamboo chunks. The main protein was two swirled cuts of pork belly. Although the menu also said there would be bean sprouts and corn, I didn’t see any in the dish.
But it didn’t matter if all of the ingredients were there or not, because the flavor really came through anyway. The broth was rich and salty, and the spicy version that we tried packed a decent punch of heat. We foolishly ordered some sushi to accompany our bowls of ramen, but mid-way through realized what a mistake it was as we started to fill up on the perfectly tender noodles and savory broth.
If you want to order some ramen with lots of choices for toppings, protein, and broth to customize your experience, a place like Tanpopo is probably more your style (or perhaps the newly opened restaurant by the same owners – Dave’s Uptown Noodle on Colvin Ave, which I have yet to try). But if you’re interested in more of a simple, masterful bowl of ramen that is impeccably executed without a lot of frills, Sushi Tei is definitely worth a visit.
I know I’m probably not done yet with ordering ramen around town this winter, so if you have another favorite place that’s flying under the radar, shoot me a tip through email or comment below. After all, there’s no way to tell which ramen is truly “the best” without lots and lots of research.