We all know who the frontrunners in the noodle game are in Austin proper, but where can you grab a great bowl when venturing out into the metro area? The frigid temps lately had us jonesing for hot noods, and we decided to give Toro Ramen and Poke Barn a try.
Situated in San Marcos within a stone’s throw of Texas State University, Toro Ramen and Poke Barn is a small shop with a friendly vibe. On our visit, a quick menu perusal had us starting off with the squid leg appetizer. This delicately battered, fried squid is not your normal rings of calamari, but larger sections of tentacles, and served with a scattering of bonito flakes. (There may or may not have been inappropriate Squidward jokes during the course of this meal.) The squid fell just short of overcooked, with some pieces tender and others slightly chewy, but all in all it was a tasty offering and we’ll definitely order it again.
Our table all opted for tonkotsu ramen, a large serving of noodles, pork broth, pork chashu, marinated egg, mushrooms, red ginger, seaweed. The noodles are a straight variety, thin and satisfyingly stretchy. The zing of red ginger in the ramen lifted this dish to a higher level, balancing the richness of the broth, and punching up the flavor of the marinated egg and chasu pork. Red ginger is a sharp, peppery ginger, pickled in plum vinegar, and more intense than its paler sister, the sweet ginger usually served with sushi. It’s perfect for heavier tofu or rice dishes, and would make a great addition to yakisoba.
Toro Ramen and Poke Barn has both vegetarian and vegan ramen on their menu, as well as an option for a ramen combo meal with a choice of side dishes such as poke or agedashi tofu. Gluten-free diners can sub kale noodles in place of wheat.
If you have a Metro Area Must Try, comment below and tell us where and what we should be eating.