Welcome to The Hot Dish, a behind the scenes look at the making of the dishes of the moment. Up this week, chef Alvin Cailan works up a bowl of shiitake shio ramen, which is a perfect option for the vegan crowd.
Ramen Champ, the 22 seat modern ramen bar by way of Alvin Cailan, has been an almost immediate success. The lines-out-the-door shop on the second floor of the Far East Plaza in Chinatown is garnering plenty of local attention of late, thanks to its high-end takes on popular bowls of pork tonkotsu and chicken shio.
But it’s Ramen Champ’s meat and dairy-free vegan bowls that have been secretly stealing the show lately; Cailan estimates they sell half as many bowls as their signature tonkotsu, which is no small feat considering the size of the space.
Rather than lean into cheap broth bases and low-grade ingredients, Cailan’s take on a shiitake shio is clean and earthy, touched off with two different kinds of mushrooms and a housemade kombu. Even the noodles somehow eschew eggs altogether, without losing that much-needed bounce and texture. It's a bowl hearty enough for any meat eater, without sacrificing on quality or integrity.