Written by Gwen Ashley Walters Category: Three Bites Issue: March 2014
Group Mid-Level
Character count 2500

Slurp-worthy bowls of soul bring Valley ramen science to a full boil.

Ramen mania has arrived. Long considered Japanese comfort food akin to a bowl of chicken noodle soup, the dish has migrated out of dorm rooms and onto fine-dining menus. What's not to like? At improvisational-dining trailblazer Posh, chef Josh Hebert starts with a piping-hot bowl of umami-rich broth, which he fills with bouncy noodles and a cornucopia of garnishes.

Don't wait for the dang thing to cool off. Get your face in the bowl and slurp like a pro – the louder the better. Hebert dresses up five styles of ramen – including shio (salt), and shoyu (soy sauce) – as only a chef can, with treats like bonito flakes and caramelized pork belly. For now, Hebert's bowls of soul ($10) are a once-weekly affair, available on Tuesdays from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.

7167 E. Rancho Vista Dr., Scottsdale
480-663-7674, poshscottsdale.com

Hana Japanese Eatery
5524 N. Seventh Ave., Phoenix
602-973-1238, hanajapaneseeatery.com
Chef Kazuto Kishino sticks with old-school, traditional ramen at Hana, which means subtly-nuanced pork broth and squiggly, springy noodles, modestly topped with slices of tender, marinated pork, bamboo shoots, seaweed and fish cakes. Choose from shio, shoyu, miso and our favorite, the milky tonkotsu, a cloudy broth that gets its milky appearance from boiling pork bones for what seems like an eternity. It's rich, fatty and lip-smackingly sublime ($9.95).

21 E. Sixth St., Tempe
480-625-4565, umamitempe.com
Who says gaijin can't do ramen? Matt Marlowe and Jared Lupin prove that theory wrong at their off-Mill Avenue noodle joint. A basic ramen bowl starts at $8, with a customizable list of add-ons ranging from $.50 (corn, roasted garlic) to $2 (pork belly). Not sure what to add on? Ask for recommendations, but pork belly, roasted garlic and a soft-boiled egg are good starts. Vegans rejoice in Umami's optional meat-free stock broth.