This was interesting. A Chinese restaurant that serves ramen and large signs in Japanese clearly in view behind the expansive storefront windows. A good friend of ours recommended this place for ramen.
Located in the International District, Fu Lin has a special ramen menu, among which are included variations of shoyu, miso and tonkotsu ramen. Marketing ploy? An attempt to lure Japanese customers? It turns out that the owner/chef, born and raised in China, lived and cooked in Japan for ten years before crossing the ocean to settle here.
Though my wife and I were eyeing the same miso chashu ramen, I changed my order to tonkotsu chashu ramen so we could sample both kinds. The noodle soups were served in large bowls with the broth a good inch and a half below the rim. An important component of a good ramen is the noodle itself, in this case perfectly cooked and having great texture. In Asia, serious eaters will finish the entire bowl very quickly in order to enjoy the pasta texture throughout the meal. Eaters here don’t eat as furiously, so inevitably the noodles will soften.
The charsiu, five large slices in all, were lean, very tender and slightly sweet, wonderfully flavorful. Not pork belly slices that rameniacs like, these will appeal to diners who eschew too much fat. Five spice flavors infused the menma (seasoned bamboo shoot slices), leaning more toward Chinese flavors than Japanese. Bean sprouts, wakame (seaweed) and a good dose of sliced green onions rounded out the toppings of both ramen.
The miso broth was rich and thankfully not too salty, admittedly impossible to make a good, low-sodium miso broth, and having slight ginger overtones. Always in the hunt for a good tonkotsu broth, I found Fu Lin’s to be milky and flavorful, though middling on the pork-flavor intensity scale. The same friend who recommended the ramen here is of the opinion that, in the Seattle area, Fu Lin serves the best version. So far, I have no argument with that. Ramen addicts would do well to walk just a block up the street from the inconsistent Samurai Noodle and have their fix here instead.
512 S King St
Seattle, WA 98104
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