Things are getting down to the wire for this ramen battle bracket. There have been some upsets, like Republic Ramen beating out fan favorite Umami, and there's also been a disqualification due to T.Spot closing shortly before it was set to battle against Posh's ramen. This week Posh will try to prove its stuff by going up against Sushi Ken, an Awhatukee joint known well by many local ramen lovers. The winner will go up against Hana in the finals to determine who serves the Valley's best bowl of ramen.
In This Corner: Sushi Ken
The Setup: Sushi Ken is where we usually go for ramen when we're in the mood for a bowl of the Valley's most authentic ramen. The friendly, quick service, full sushi bar, and optional shots of soju pair well with their menu of different soba, udon, and ramen noodle soups. From spicy shio to butter miso or the classic tonkotsu, you're sure to get your ramen fix at Sushi Ken, all in modest, suburban digs.
The Good: We went for the very simple chashu ramen for this battle. The soy broth with sliced pork and noodles are just straightforward, showing how much Sushi Ken can do with very little. Scallions add a nice fresh element to the ramen and the pork itself was tender and moist. Best of all, Sushi Ken's ramen bowls are all between $8 and $9 and you get an included three California rolls and your choice of a small side salad or bowl of edamame to accompany it. In terms of bang of your buck, Sushi Ken's an unbeatable opponent.
The Bad: We like our ramen salty, but the soy base in Sushi Ken's chashu ramen was a little overwhelming. Typically we order their spicy shio, so to simulate the spice and cut some of the salt, we mixed in some leftover wasabi from our complimentary sushi in the bowl. It helped, but there wasn't much we could do for the slightly overcooked noodles. Maybe super simple isn't the way to go, as it seemed like it could've used some help from some added toppings-- at least give us an egg.
In The Other Corner: Posh
The Setup: Compared to Sushi Ken, Posh in Scottsdale is definitely, well, posh. Chef Josh Hebert only offers ramen on Tuesdays in four different varieties. Everything at Posh is sleek and streamlined, from the bar menu to the simplistic décor, which allows Herbert to experiment with his "improvisational cuisine."
The Good: Opting for the goma ramen, we got a mix of sprouts, carrots, shishito peppers, and more all in a thick, sesame and pork-based broth. Flecked with sesame seeds and with a present, but less overpowering, salty punch, the broth was flavorful and smooth. The noodles were cooked well and easy to pick up with chopsticks.
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We added an egg to our bowl for $1 and were met with a perfectly poached, runny yolk egg, instead of the soft boiled egg we excepted. No complaints here, especially once we bit into the chashu pork, which was packed with oven-roasted sweet and savory flavors and was so deliciously tender. Best of all, you can order a Negroni to accompany your ramen.
The Bad: Posh's ramen only being available Tuesday is a definite setback. Plus, if you haven't been before, the parking situation can be a little confusing due to some oddly placed "Do Not Enter" signs at the underground parking garage entrance. However, the $12 bowl of ramen with $1 added egg's price was the biggest issue we had with Posh's ramen. $13 for a bowl is just a little crazy.
And the winner is... Posh. This one was unreasonably close. Sushi Ken's price, availability, and side dishes were better and the ramen was more authentic, but Posh's flavorful broth, unique toppings, well-cooked noodles, and incredibly moist pork were an unbeatable match up. In the end, it was down to authenticity and habit versus flavor and style and flavor just had to win.