photo credit: Nicolai McCrary
If you live in Central Austin, you’ll probably spend the 30 minute drive to Ramen512 grumbling about how far away it is and internally debating if it’s all going to be worth it. And if you live in Cedar Park, well, you finally have something to brag about other than a semi-affordable housing market. Because tucked in a strip mall between a vet and a nail salon is some of the best ramen in Austin.
Those who have been around Austin for a while might remember the Ramen512 name from a series of popups around town—most of which sold out very quickly. But a few years of this scrappy DIY setup has done to Ramen512 what that giant pit in The Dark Knight Rises did to Bruce Wayne—helped him make the leap, emerging stronger than ever.
There are a lot of styles of ramen offered here, which is something that often makes us wary of a place—but it’s not a cause for concern here. If you’re a purist, you might enjoy marveling at the delicate chicken-and-dashi broth from the Signature Shoyu, in what looks like the physical embodiment of a ramen emoji. If you’re a fan of the richer pork tonkotsu base more in line with other ramen joints around town, you’ll be happy to know that all three versions here—classic, spicy, or with black garlic oil—are damn near perfect.
Ramen512’s atmosphere is nearly non-existent, with all the charm of a generic strip mall build-your-own poke bowl restaurant. But when the ramen is this special, none of that feels like it matters. Go ahead and start getting some podcasts ready—it’s time to make the drive.
The chicken is juicy, the breading is light and crispy, and the dipping sauce is creamy enough to balance it all out. If you’ve had karaage, you already know what to expect. If you haven’t, this is a great intro.
This is one of the best bowls of shoyu ramen we’ve had. The chicken and dashi broth is light and delicate, managing to pack a ton of subtle flavors into this bowl.
This is probably the most popular style of ramen in Austin, and Ramen512’s bowl manages to raise the bar. Slow-cooked pork bones make this broth incredibly rich and flavorful. If you want the best direct comparison between Ramen512 and other spots in town, this is the bowl to try.