By Katie McPolin
Photos by Anjali Dhillon
Neighborhood: Wicker Park
Dishes to Try: Shoyu Ramen, Vegetable Ramen
Popping my head through the door at the flagship Wicker Park location of Furious Spoon, the steam from the kitchen rolls out to greet me, followed by an explosive soundtrack of Tupac’s greatest hits. I feel like I’m in a music video.
I claim three seats at one of the tall communal tables. Furious Spoon is fast-casual, with all food and drinks ordered at the same counter. Several people are seated alone at a bar that wraps around the kitchen, allowing you to watch the noodles being made. It’s refreshing to be somewhere where it is comfortable to come with friends, or to enjoy your own company -- it’s casual, dim, and altogether peaceful, and the insulated clamor of the kitchen is a focal point, not a distraction.
As we sit down, a line begins to form, first by the windows and soon out the door. Furious Spoon makes a great lunch on a day spent window shopping or thrifting in Wicker Park, but with late hours every day of the week, would be an ideal rendezvous after a concert or other late-night hijinks.
As our food arrives, our table has already filled. Anjali runs our hot bowls to the front windows for ample lighting, and the shop is cozy enough that she makes it back before the steam stops rising.
I ordered shoyu ramen, topped with pork belly and a poached egg, along with a side of takoyaki (fried balls of dough stuffed with pickled ginger, green onion, and octopus). Anjali orders the classic Furious Ramen with the works -- pork belly, chicken, fury sauce, and everything else -- along with a small beef brisket bowl. Our friend Urvi orders the vegetable ramen, also with fury sauce. (Furious Spoon has great vegetarian options!)
The ramen is simply beautiful, framed by polished ceramic bowls and abound with colorful vegetables and fresh yellow noodles. My shoyu ramen is rich and hearty, and the egg is just runny enough -- I clear my bowl in about ten minutes, which is faster than I’ve ever eaten ramen before. The Furious Ramen is loaded, and the fury sauce is an intense, complex hot sauce complemented by the aromatic garlic relish (the secret star of the bowl). The vegetable ramen is overflowing with bean sprouts and cabbage, and also goes perfectly with the fury sauce; however, the broth was the standout. Instead of the heavy pork flavor of the tonkotsu broth, the vegetable broth was softer and clearer, and didn’t feel as overwhelmingly salty by the end of the meal.
As for the sides, the takoyaki was crispy and fluffy, drizzled with a delicious sauce, and the brisket rice bowl was a humble savory companion to the soup. Being able to switch between a light rice dish and rich soup helped us pace our meal. Furious Spoon is at its heart a ramen shop, but I fully recommend ordering plentiful sides.
Furious Spoon is an exercise in balance. It’s a big lunch after a long morning, or a late-night snack after an evening out. It’s a place for boisterous gathering, and for satisfying solitude. It’s a fast, filling meal, at once traditional and exciting. Furious Spoon makes inventive homemade ramen accessible, and makes it look easy.