Bowls of noodles and steaming hot broth. These days almost everyone loves Ramen. It is a quick and easy meal, and it is popular amongst people of all ages. Ramen has three key components – the noodles, the broth, and the toppings. It is the broth, however that soothes our souls and gives us the rejuvenation that we sometimes need. Though, with only three main components, Ramen has diverse regional differences, and several delicious variations. It is a dish with endless possibilities.
At the Shin-Yokohama Raumen Museum in Japan, there is an opportunity to taste every regional variation of Ramen. If you won’t be traveling to Japan anytime soon, travel to the midwestern United States. It’s closer, and you’ll discover Chef Justin Carlisle’s Red Light Ramen in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Red Light Ramen is the after hour brainchild of James Beard Nominated Chef Carlisle.
At 11:30pm on Friday and Saturday nights, Carlisle’s fine dining Ardent face lifts to Red Light Ramen for Milwaukee’s nightowls, Ramen lovers, and tourists. The crew is open for 90 minutes only. That Ramen line you will see outside is no joke. “We serve 80 to 100 bowls between 11:30pm and 1am” Carlise mentioned “sometimes we do run out.” Ramen enthusiasts wait outside in line rain or snow and sometimes up to 45 minutes! “My broth is simple. I’ve been making the same broth for 10 years.” Carlise makes tonkotsu, a pork based broth, which takes he and his Ardent crew four batches a week to prepare for the Ramen weekend craze.
The craze is legit. The Ramen is outstanding and well worth the wait. It’s creamy, with all the usual toppings; egg, negi, mushrooms, nori, bamboo shoots, scallions, and pork. Throw it all in the bowl, slurp and smile. Red Light Ramen also offers an Old Fashioned slushy, an ode to sweet home Milwaukee of course, and a surprise flavor of the week slushy. Red Light Ramen is beyond worth the trip to Milwaukee’s Lower East Side.
Ardent & Red Light Ramen:
1751 N. Farwell Ave.
Twitter & Instagram: @redlightramen @ardentmke @jkcarlise