Thumbs Up Ramen
At the beginning of June, North Jersey got its first bubble (AWA) ramen spot, just a quarter-mile from the George Washington Bridge. Located in Fort Lee, Thumbs Up Ramen brings together Japanese chef Naotaka Miyazawa and restauranteur Teruaki Ishiyama.
The Thumbs Up Ramen Menu
The casual 50-seat dining spot serves eight different types of ramen, plus a handful of rice bowls, as well as popular Japanese street food items like takoyaki and karaage. The latter is available in a five-piece spicy version and individually on a bun. Tori Paitan Tsukemen, or dipping noodles, is the chef’s recommendation. In this case, the bubbly chicken and pork-based broth comes on the side, while the noodles, chicken char siu, and other garnishments come dry in a separate bowl.
Calpico and the homemade matcha green tea are the two Japanese drinks on the menu. As of this writing, Thumbs Up Ramen does not have a liquor license.
So what is bubble ramen?
The chicken paitan broth takes 20 hours to make. The process starts with the slow boiling of eight different vegetables with chicken bones. According to Naotaka Miyazawa, “Just before pouring the soup into a bowl, we whisk the soup to enhance the umami inside the broth. The bubbles’ texture are so soft that when they pop inside your mouth, the chicken fragrance tickles your nostrils. I thought it was a lovely ramen and worked hard to develop my own recipe. I genuinely wanted Americans to try my Bubble (AWA) Ramen because of its creativity and deliciousness.”
The tiny bubbles are clearly visible as they permeate the surface of every ramen bowl.
Things to know before your first visit to Thumbs Up Ramen
- From Port Authority, NJ Transit Bus 158 offers the only direct route to the area (exit at Main at Center Avenue, which should take around 45 minutes)
- As of this writing, it’s BYOB.
- If you’re a vegetarian or do not eat pork, the vegetable ramen will be your only option.
- If you’re just looking to avoid pork, you can order vegetable ramen add char siu chicken to your bowl.
- There is free parking available under the building for patrons only.
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Our meal was hosted by Thumbs Up Ramen. All pictures were shot with a Sony RX100 VI, with the exception of any Instagram pics. If you make an Amazon purchase via our link, you will help support this site at no additional cost to you.
Have you been to Thumbs Up Ramen? Or other restaurants in North Jersey? If so, how did you enjoy it? Leave a comment below!