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Ramen house offers Columbians hearty meal in a bowl

The goal is to eat much of the content of the bowl with the chopsticks and then enjoy the broth with the spoon.
The goal is to eat much of the content of the bowl with the chopsticks and then enjoy the broth with the spoon. Special to Go Columbia

Think noodles floating in a rich broth.

That’s what you get at Menkoi Ramen House, an authentic Japanese noodle house where different savory soup stocks housemade of soy, miso, pork and chicken are simmered for hours to reach their full flavor potential. They are served not only with noodles but also with choices and combinations of marinated pork, chicken, bean sprouts, spinach, boiled eggs and more.

There are a few vegetarian options, and some noodle bowls are spicier than others. The goal is to eat much of the content of the bowl with the chopsticks and then enjoy the broth with the spoon.

For those not interested in a hearty soup-style meal, there is a menu selection of Japanese beef curry served over a bed of rice. Appetizers are substantial; a favorite is the rice ball wrapped in a choice of sushi style/flavored “papers” made typically of nori seaweed.

There also is edamame, sushi rice stuffed in marinated fried tofu, and two types of dumplings. Soy sauce is available to flavor appetizers and noodle bowls if desired. Even some of the bottled drinks, especially green tea, are Japanese.

How did Menkoi Ramen House get its start?

Kazuhiro Sato opened Menkoi Ramen House in 2009 in the Vista. Since then, he has opened locations in Charleston and Greenville.

What does the place look like?

Situated in an older, more historic building on Gervais Street, just a block from the Capitol, the space is deep versus wide.

Customers enter through a narrow door and place their orders at the counter, then sit either along a counter, at a few tables with a view of Vista activity, or in the back of the restaurant. Overall seating is for fewer than 50.

Ambiance is simple, with walls decorated in Asian-style art and a few mounted flat-screen televisions. A colorful flag and a large photograph of a noodle bowl decorate the front entrance to the restaurant.

Who eats here?

Menkoi Ramen House caters especially to college students with its affordable menu and late-night hours. However, anyone desiring a truly authentic Japanese noodle house experience is drawn to the restaurant.

Menkoi Ramen House

WHERE: 1004 Gervais St.

WHEN: 11 a.m.-2:30 p.m. and -11 p.m. Sunday-Thursday; 11 a.m.-2:30 p.m. and 5 p.m.-3 a.m. Friday and Saturday.

COST: Nothing is priced over $8.50.

INFO: (803) 708-1569; Facebook

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