When the temperatures drop, there is nothing more comforting than a hot bowl of hearty soup. Pho has always been my go to for when I’m feeling a little run down but there is something so soothing about the creamy and velvety texture of pork ramen broth. Ramen shops have really started to explode over the last few years and luckily they are evenly spread out across this vast city. On a recent trip to the Little Saigon district, I made a stop at Ramen Okidoki to warm up on a cold fall night. Hidden in the back of the Saigon Houston Plaza shopping center behind Kim Son Restaurant, you will find this treasure trove of deliciousness. What makes this place so unique is that Ramen Okidoki formerly from Astoria Queens, NY moved to Houston and setup shop within the former building which was the first outpost of the Seoul, Korea based fried chicken chain, Lims Chicken. The collaboration of Ramen Okidoki and Lims Chicken truly embodies the spirit of Houston and together they are providing guests with some serious eats. One day you might be feeling some fresh hot Korean fried chicken and another you might be wanting a streaming bowl of ramen, either way this is your place.
Ramen Okidoki/Lims Chicken really has that speakeasy charm because it is located in the back of a busy shopping plaza with dark tinted windows making it almost inconspicuous from the outside. Once you step inside, you are greeted by a host and shown to a table leaving you to decide whether you are going to feast on chicken, ramen or a little of both. For the sake of research, I decided to order up a Pork Bun, Fried Chicken Bun and an order of Garlic Soy Wings to start followed by the traditional Tonkotsu Ramen as the main course. Bao buns are a personal favorite of mine. The soft steamed buns are a cloudlike pillow that cradles delectable fillings. In this instance the pork bao was a generous slice of chashu (braised pork belly) with a hoisin-like glaze and a garnish of lettuce for some added texture. The fried chicken bao was a fried chicken tender tossed in a sweet and spicy sauce that was also garnished with lettuce. The pork was soft and succulent and its texture almost blended into the pillowy bao bun. The fried chicken bun is where things started to get real interesting. The chicken was perfectly fried and still kept its crunchy exterior even though the thick coating of sweet and spicy sauce. I know it is bold but this might have been one of my favorite buns I have had in a while. Before I could finish the two buns, my six-piece wings arrived and the scent of delicious fried chicken filled the table. The garlic soy glaze was evenly coated on the wings and it was topped off with sesame seeds and a small cup of pickled radish to cleanse the palate on the side. Be warned, the food is fresh so you might want to give it a few minutes to cool off before digging in. Much like the chicken inside of the bun, these wings kept their crunchy battered texture even after being tossed in the sweet and savory glaze. The chicken itself was juicy and the garlic soy sauce was a perfect choice for those who want that sweet yet salty umami flavor profile. In what felt like a meal in itself, my ramen finally arrived. The steaming bowl was dressed with scallions, red ginger, thick slabs of chashu, kikurage (wood ear mushrooms) and menma (fermented bamboo shoots) all swimming in a thick silky pork broth. Tonkotsu ramen is hearty and fatty to hold you over on a cold day. The broth at Okidoki is a little lighter than I am used to but still good none the less. About a third way through the bowl, my limit was reached and I had to tap out. After sampling my way through buns and wings, the nourishing ramen was the perfect ending to this experience and I was thoroughly warmed up from the cold temps awaiting me outside.
Ramen Okidoki/Lims Chicken is going to be on my rotation when I am in need of a good bowl and a side of Korean Fried Chicken. What makes this spot even greater is that they have specials almost nightly. Whether you go for their half off specials six nights a week or the $5.99 bowl of ramen, you will undoubtedly become an instant fan. That is my take on Ramen Okidoki /Lims Chicken and I think you will agree. Be sure to check them out on Facebook and Instagram.