The first Ramen eatery to open in Delray Beach, Ramen Lab Eatery has a prime location and concept that already seems to be a hit. Open on the plaza across from the Arts Garage, the corner location allows for tables on the front and in the plaza. The day I went it was packed by 12:30 pm, though rain kept most diners inside.
The high ceilings and open seating are inviting with bright yellow walls and unusual hanging thick ropes knotted with lights. A vintage pinball and Pac Man machine in a back corner is a fun diversion for kids. Pale wood accents the sides of the counters and walls.
The menu concept is this: house-made from scratch ramen noodles in a rich broth served with an array of toppings. There’s pork chashu, seasoned poached egg, scallions, mushrooms. A Miso ramen has chicken broth, egg, miso, corn and a choice of pork belly, Korean short ribs, or veggies.
The Vegan Ramen has veggie broth and thick pieces of bok choy, roasted cauliflower, beansprouts, corn, mushrooms, inari and soft tofu, hearty enough to fill no-meat eaters.
There’s a seafood option that is akin to a Thai soup with spicy lemongrass Tom Yum broth with calamari, scallops and king prawns.
I tried the 5 Spices Duck Ramen with bean sprouts, some tender baby bok choy, garlic oil and cilantro. The duck breast was sliced into thick pieces, tender and rich tasting with the garlicky broth. I added a few shots of chili paste to give it a jolt and it hit the spot. They serve it with a large ladle type spoon and a fork if you ask so you can spear and swirl and slurp as you like.
Next time’s I’ll try one of the Poke Bowls with tuna or salmon that comes with spicy krab, seaweed salad, edamame (soy beans) and pickled ginger. A Morikami Salad Bowl offers chicken tuna or tofu with kale, romaine, tomatoes and mushrooms with sesame dressing.
If bowls aren’t your thing, they offer plates with crispy chicken or pork or marinated beef served with a variety of sides like grilled omelets, caramelized onions and even kimchee – a pickled Korean dish made with vegetables, usually cabbage.
A fun selection of Asian tapas brings it with shelled edamame, steamed Bao Bros Buns filled with chicken, pork belly, mushrooms or Korean beef with kimchee.
Dumplings are made fresh daily with choices of vegetables, lobster and shrimp, pork, steak or chicken. And there’s a full bar selection of sakes and beers from Japan as well as brews from Florida breweries.
At the back of the Ramen Lab Eatery in Delray Beach is an unusual sweets counter called Sugar Milk Boba & Dessert Bar. The menu walks you through it – first you choose a base — a milk tea, classic tea, Cheese tea (?!), Tea Freshers or a Slush. Then you choose a flavor and there are lots of them like Lavender, Honey Dew, Thai, Green Tea Lemonade, Rose Tea, Taro, Coconut, Oreo and Butterfly Pea Tea. Some need explanation, some don’t. Go ahead and ask lots of questions, they’re used to it.
Then you can choose “toppings” although these sink to the bottom – Boba, mini Boba, Grass Jelly or Bursting Boba. Boba is a Taiwanese tea based drink that sprang to worldwide weird popularity in the 1980s. The tea you choose is flavored and sweet and has bubble pearls, like a tapioca but the size of a bean, floating in the bottom. It’s like having a jelly bean gummy treat lying in wait after you ingest all the sweet milky tea flavor. Very weird but strangely addictive, and you suck the boba up through an oversized straw then pop it in your mouth to get the burst of flavor.
I tried some samples of the other desserts, the green soft serve tea with chocolate syrup, fruity pebbles, whipped cream and bubble waffle. The soft serve was cold and creamy like an ice cream, the pebbles added some crunch, and then the waffle was fun to dip and scoop up all the syrup with. It had lots of textures – cold, creamy, crunchy, sweet, chewy, but for adults it may be a bit too much sweetness.
I also tried a drink made with Ovaltine flavor and Cheesecake cream on ice. Like a super sweet chocolate shake with some slightly tart cheese cream added on. Again an unusual taste treat but overload on the sugar.
This Ramen Lab Eatery in Delray Beach is good for kids with all the games and sweet treats, but also for adults as they can tailor their meal to be vegan, locally sourced, light and healthy. A variety of seating options from long high tops to smaller tables makes it good for groups or solo diners.
The ramen has come a long way from a staple of college kids eating on the cheap. It’s now a sophisticated upscale meal and Delray’s Ramen Lab Eatery is leading the way.
The restaurant was open and owned by an energetic young food entrepreneur, Louis Grayson, who also happens to have other ventures in Palm Beach County—in Boca Raton and West Palm Beach.
If you visit, Ramen Lab Eatery is located at 25 NE 2nd Ave, Delray Beach, 33444. Visit their website ramenlabeatery.com for more information about their services and menu or follow their Instagram stories @Ramenlabeatery.