Named after Yokohama, the ramen capital of Japan, Yoko Ramen opened its doors in the spring of 2017, bringing Salt Lake a new take on a traditional dish. Within the first year Yoko has been honorably mentioned in the Salt Lake Tribune, USA Today, and won the City Weekly Best of Utah ramen award. Come in for a bowl of ramen, gyoza, wings, or a sandwich! We’d love to have you!
When it’s cold outside, Yoko Ramen in Salt Lake City has the big bowls of steaming soup you crave
When the temperature plummets, people want one thing: a big bowl of steaming ramen.
November 03, 2017 | Salt Lake Tribune
How do I know this? Because I was among the hungry horde that tried to cram into Yoko Ramen for lunch on a cold day in September that felt like November. The place was so packed, we had to wait to even place an order because the kitchen couldn’t keep up.
It’s a small kitchen. And the wait wasn’t that long. You get hopeful when there are that many people in a small restaurant that could easily be overlooked. You start thinking, this many people can’t be wrong. And you know what? They weren’t.
It’s a modest menu, one that matches the size of its urban space, which can’t hold more than 35 people or so. But that’s part of its charm: It’s a get-in, chow-down, get-on-with-your-life kind of place. Plus, it’s affordable, and much better than what Americans have come to accept in the way of fast food.
Vegetables are locally sourced, and the sandwich buns come from a local Mexican bakery. A hot sauce known as Yoko XO is made in house and slathered darkly on the bun of the fried chicken sandwich ($8). It was potent enough to leave my lips tingling but didn’t overpower the flavor of juicy dark meat and crisp dill pickles that are also housemade. The soft torta bread was substantial enough to keep it all together.
I would give that sandwich a slight edge over the Japanese cubano ($9), which features the same bread, char shu pork meat and chopped fried pigs ears, although the latter really wasn’t noticeable. Swiss cheese formed a crunchy coat for the bread, while pickles and spicy mustard inside provided tang. It’s an interesting variation on a cubano, but the pork was less flavorful than the traditional ham.
You can add a side salad or wedge-cut fries to a sandwich for $2; the salad featured a nice mix of fresh greens, pickled radish and sprouts bound by a perky ginger miso dressing. But I could pass on the fries simply because I don’t like them that thick. They were brown and crisp, but the ratio of potato to crisp is just off in a fry that fat, in my opinion. Fries and salad also come in bigger side dish portions for $5.
If you like gyoza, Yoko’s version is very good. There are six of the crescent-shaped dumplings, pan fried so they’re crisp on the outside but tender within. The pork-stuffed gyoza ($7) were succulent, especially when dipped in the tart house sauce. A vegan version ($6) features shiitake mushrooms and salted cabbage.
Sweet or hot chicken wings ($7) are another side dish option, which I didn’t try but expect could be popular for a late-night snack for anyone who’s been to the bar next door, Dick and Dixie’s. Speaking of alcohol, it was a happy surprise to learn that Yoko Ramen offers a modest selection of bottled beers ($5-$9) and sake, available in single servings, carafes or bottles ($9-$60).
Both are perfect partners to Yoko’s main attraction: big bowls of ramen that come in three iterations with a variety of add-ons.