the spot: Ramen 512 1420 Cypress Creek Road Ste 300, Cedar Park, TX 78613
the eats: Tonkotsu Ramen, Karage
the bucks: $16, $7.50
the full nelson: Top Three ramen joint in Austin TX
I reached that notion on good authority from trusted experts and some promising chatter on Reddit like this post. That hype alone plus the winter weather of Austin got me in the mood to go slurp. Oh and my kid being a total Ramen addict didn’t hurt either.
Before I get into the ramen I had to get into what is probably my favorite starter at a ramen joint:
I first fell in love with karage at Izakaya restaurants which is the Japanese equivalent of a tapas bar. The addition of mirin, Japanese soy sauce, sake and potato starch add both a texture and flavor profile that distinguish it from classic southern fried chicken. But just like classic Southern fried chicken, it pairs perfectly with a cold beer.
. . . that tends to exclude most vegetables and adds Narutomaki(Fish Cake) into the Tonkotsu broth. And yes he is a major anime fan too. I was lucky on this particular visit that he didn’t pull the trigger on the extra chashu and egg. Kids are expensive after all.
The bottomline was that he loved it and he can be damn picky. His pickiness might have just cause though. Some of his favorite ramen joints rank up with the best in town like Ramen Tatsu-ya, Jinya, and Michi and he has eaten a few bowls in Tokyo.
My baseline is always Tonkotsu broth, the broth made thick and creamy from pork bones and collagen. For me it is an instant departure from the instant ramen I first encountered back in college and is what I crave first when I hear the word “ramen”. I will add an extra egg and chashu because my move is too share the bowl with my wife. A bowl of rich Tonkotsu ramen with an extra egg and chashu makes for a perfectably splittable portion.
If you saw my IG reel or TikTok video:
. . . you will notice that broth wasn’t the richest ever, which is a hallmark to my Tonkotsu experience. What I missed out on in regards to that velvety porcine broth switched gears with an unexpected clean finish. The texture of the noodles and mushroom had the perfect firmness. It was up there with the best texture experience I’ve had with ramen, Japan included.
Is Ramen 512 the best in town? Too close to call in my opinion. My guess is that unlike Michi or Ramen Tatsu-ya which have multiple locations, places like Ramen 512 might benefit from being a single location with better consistency. Of course I’ve only gone once which means to test that theory, I will have to go again. And though it’s a 30 minute drive that will have me pass a few well regarded Ramen places to get there . . . I’d gladly make the trip.