In Japanese culture, slurping your ramen is not only accepted, but also encouraged! Serving as the most efficient method of enjoying a bowl of piping hot noodles, it also conveys one’s utmost compliments to chef.
Located at the intersection of Spenard Road and Minnesota Drive, Naruto is dishing out slurp-worthy bowls of Japanese ramen whose authenticity is second only to that of those found in Tokyo backstreets.
Entering Naruto is like stepping into a portal that transports you directly to the Land of the Rising Sun as Naruto is adorned tastefully with countless pieces of Japanese decor from paper lanterns to faux cherry blossoms to old movie posters. The TVs even play anime and Japanese soap operas.
Unlike typical Japanese ramen bars, however, Naruto has several other entree items on the menu aside from ramen. On the single-sheet, laminated menu, one can find several Japanese comfort-food favorites such as katsu (breaded, deep-fried pork or chicken cutlets), katsu with curry over rice, takoyaki (a street food favorite: octopus balls topped with a tangy, savory sauce and Japanese mayonnaise) and chicken tatsuta-age (marinated chicken thigh pieces deep-fried to crispy perfection).
While all of the other menu items are delicious co-stars worthy of a look, Naruto’s ramen is the star of the show.
As a frequent patron, my favorite option is the tonkotsu (pork bone broth) ramen ($11.50). Perhaps the most iconic ramen broth in Japan as well, Naruto’s tonkotsu ramen is an unbelievably sublime experience. Naruto exercises the utmost care when preparing their tonkotsu broth, the most important component of the bowl as they make it in-house. The tonkotsu broth is rich, sumptuous and full of savory, pork flavor. Swimming in the broth are soft, yet springy, ramen noodles which are a far cry from the bricks of instant ramen that are notorious for being dorm room staples; Naruto boils their ramen noodles fresh with every bowl ordered. No corners are cut with the toppings either as Naruto’s tonkotsu ramen is served with the essentials: a slice of chashu pork (tender, marinated pork belly), bean sprouts, a boiled egg stained with soy sauce marinade and a handful of chopped scallions.
All of these ingredients work in tandem to provide a sinfully delectable bowl of flavors so rich and warm that they melt your core with each slurp.
Naruto features other, equally delicious broth options as well, such as miso, curry and spicy kimchi.
However, for newcomers to Naruto and newcomers to a traditional bowl of ramen, the tonkotsu broth receives my utmost recommendation.
Being a locally-owned business, Naruto takes pride in their quality and it shows. The waitstaff at Naruto are attentive and efficient as they provide customer service that parallels the quality of their food.
In a city where Japanese restaurants that do not primarily specialize in sushi are a rarity to come by, Naruto upholds its status as the frontrunner for that category. Naruto’s atmosphere captures the essence of a traditional ramen bar as the perfect, casual dining experience. Whether you choose to dine with friends, with your significant other or alone after a hard day of work, a bowl of Naruto’s ramen is what your body craves on a cold, Alaskan night.
Just don’t forget to slurp.