Reno’s Uchi Ramen Noodle Shop, open since October 2016, continues to serve tasty Japanese street food and noodles. The shop is located on Fifth and Nevada streets next to 101 Taiwanese Cuisine in downtown.
The Lay of the Land at Uchi Ramen
My fiancé and I entered the intimate restaurant on a Thursday evening. Zack Jones, restaurant manager and server, offered us a seat at the bar or a table. The bar alongside the open kitchen was attractive and romantically lit, but we opted for the comfort of a table.
There was a couple sitting at the bar, a group of college kids at one table, a large family at another, and us. Though not intentionally, my fiancé and I overheard that the other two tables had never been to Uchi Ramen either. As all our meals progressed, we heard, “Do you like it? Is it good? How’s that one?” Before digging in ourselves, it was nice to hear our fellow diners follow up with, “I really like it. I can’t wait to try, x, y, and z next time.”
The menus are laminated, a good choice for a soup shop. Diners may see some unfamiliar words on the menu, but the restaurant thought ahead and further described inquiry-prone items. Jones is a fine captain on your journey through salty, savory, and slurp-worthy soups. He answered all our questions with a smile.
Available appetizers are the Shishamo (fried smelt), fried shrimp shumai, TakoYaki (battered octopus balls), pork gyoza pot stickers, and a three piece selection of yakitori (skewered and then grilled meat).
Traditional ramen available was the shoyu–soy sauce based, the shio–sea salt based, the shio veggie–sea salt and shiitake Kumbu based, and the kakuni tsukemen–soy sauce based with cold noodle and hot broth on the side. The ramen specialties include a white miso based broth, red miso based broth, a soy sauce and black garlic based broth, and finally the Jigoku Special, a soy sauce based broth with variable heat level and imported Japanese spices. Most of the broths also include tonkotsu, pork bone broth.
The menu also features an “extras on the top” section for available toppings to your ramen. Options include vegetables, mushrooms, seaweed, kimchee, meats, eggs, rice, extra noodles, and extra broth.
Get to the Good Part Already
We decided on the bacon quail egg skewer at $5 for our appetizer. The dish is composed of soft boiled eggs that are wrapped in crisp bacon and then finished with a torch. Garnishes are what seemed to be a teriyaki sauce and Shichi-mi (Japanese spice blend).
I mentioned Shichi-mi tōgarashi in my last article, but failed to mention its typical composite spices: coarsely ground red chili pepper, ground sanshō (“Japanese pepper”), roasted orange peel (Chenpi), black sesame seed, white sesame seed, hemp seed, ground ginger, nori, and poppy seed.
The bacon quail egg skewers were divine. The eggs were just barely cooked through, and the bacon added a great salty texture. The Schichi-mi and teriyaki complimented the dish well with a touch of heat and sweetness.
I selected the Mi-So-Hot ramen at $12.99 and my fiancé chose the Uchi-Kuro ramen at $12.99. My ramen had a red miso base and it was salty and creamy with moderate heat.
My toppings included chashu (soy braised pork belly), goma pork (spicy ground pork), charred corn, scallion, ajitama (soft boiled egg), sesame, and fried chilies. The noodles were nice, but not especially springy. Fried chilies added some heat, but they were not overwhelming. The goma pork and corn add great texture. The chashu pork was especially tender. Pork two ways is always a good idea.
The dish was a major umami bomb. I think it would have benefitted from some acidity, as the dish tasted a little one dimensional. Despite the lack of dynamic flavors, I enjoyed the dish. Maybe next time I’ll add some kimchee and see what happens.
My fiancé’s Uchi-Kuro ramen was more to my liking. The broth was soy sauce and black garlic based. The dish was topped with fried garlic, woodear mushroom, charred pork belly, ajitama, spinach, and scallion. The fried garlic and black garlic sauce added robust flavor. Here, too, the umami flavor was formidable. The spinach and scallions cut the umami a touch and were welcome additions. I love all things garlic, so this dish easily won me over.
My fiancé enjoyed her ramen, but said that she would have preferred fewer noodles. I enjoyed my ramen, too, but will order more broth next time. I’ll also inquire about any toppings that can give the ramen some zing. All these options are available for our next trip to Uchi Ramen Noodle Shop, and we hope to be back soon.
Uchi Ramen Noodle Shop is located at 400 W. Fifth Street, #105. Operating hours are Tuesday through Thursday from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m and 4:30 p.m. to 8:45 p.m and Friday through Sunday from 11 a.m. to 8:45 p.m. Diners arriving at 8:30 p.m. will be permitted to order take-out only. Call in your take-out order at 775-800-1975.