Slurp Ramen shares a space with Drunken Noodle in downtown Fargo, making it an ideal place for a kind of pan-Asian casual dining experience. And the nature of ramen and noodles allows for a lot of variety when it comes to taste inside a package that is predictable enough for groups that need a variety of preferences satisfied.
Putting aside the offerings from the Drunken Noodle, Slurp serves ramen and rice bowls and a few appetizers. On its face, it’s limited, but ramen, by nature, is pretty varied.
A good place to start is the fried wontons ($7). Unexceptional but, again, predictable, they are made in-house with a mild minced-pork filling and a sweet dipping sauce. This illustrates something about much of the menu at Slurp. If one thing might be said about the ramen, in the if-you-like-that-sort-of-thing category, it’s that it tends to be sweet. This is true of almost all their broths. Even in those that are meant to be spicy, there is a kind of sugary taste that extends well past its initial impact on the tongue.
This isn’t necessarily bad, but it’s a bit of a shift from some traditional ramen soups. Even the shoyu ($10.75) seems sweeter than you’d expect from a soy-based ramen. The fried chicken is a little oily but the mushrooms, central to a number of ramen dishes, bring the dish back to why it’s one of the most popular of ramen dishes.
Another favorite, Hong Kong ($10.75), highlights a nicely done roast pork that can easily find itself dry and rubbery, even in its broth, and also somewhat sweet, but a layer of fat keeps it from losing both a distinctive flavor and a necessary moisture. In both cases, the noodles are saved from the near mush that the word “ramen” suggests, particularly in its dorm-room versions.
There are also bold flavors on the menu, and among the best options is the spicy pork belly rice bowl ($11.25). I really like this flavor. It goes beyond the rendering of this now-popular but once-ignored cut of pork, and adds a nice char to the meat that’s matched to a dressing that mixes the heat and sugar from garlic and chiles with mild basil. The pork is a nice centerpiece tamed by a gentle white rice.
There are desserts that touch on the roots of this local version of Japanese cuisine. The red bean mochi ice cream is an ice cream nugget wrapped in a rice envelope. It has American roots but a distinct Japanese feel. Once again, this dessert could benefit from real whipped cream. It’s a fun kind of fusion that ends a pleasant meal.
We went on a particularly busy night when tables were scarce and the staff was busy. Presentation wasn’t as crisp as on slower parts of the day, but the staff was pleasant, informed and seemed happy to help.
Atmosphere is funky and eclectic, or thrown together, depending on how you want to look at it. But it matches the food and price point. It’s nice to see cuisine of this sort growing in Fargo. Reasonable prices, healthy options and variety come together to broaden, once again, Fargo’s dining scene.
Address: 414 Broadway N., Fargo
Hours: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday to Friday, 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday and noon to 8 p.m. Sunday
Ratings (out of 4 stars)
Food: 3 stars
Service: 4 stars
Ambiance: 2 1/2 stars
Eric Daeuber is an instructor at Minnesota State Community and Technical College. Readers can reach him at email@example.com.