Noodles have a special place in the hearts and bellies of the Japanese.—Elizabeth Andoh, food educator & author
Savory Japanese-style ramen noodle dishes have wowed diners around the world and in the Southwest for decades. Not so well known is Korean-style ramen, an unfortunate situation. Happily, though, it’s one that Gom Ramen, a Korean-style ramen restaurant in El Paso, is on course to change.
What makes this place a standout?
The “secret” is in the name: Gom Ramen.
First, “Gom” is Korean for “simmering.” It’s the beef-based broth that simmers for upwards of SIX hours that gives this ramen its s-m-o-o-t-h flavor. Then, it’s the ramen, the Chinese wheat noodles themselves. Gom Ramen doesn’t do instant or prepackaged but specializes in homemade ramen noodles.
If you’re a diehard fan of Japanese-style ramen made with a pork stock broth, you may catch yourself wondering: Will I like Korean ramen as much?
Short answer: It’s not a matter of either-or; you can like both. This simmering beef broth ramen does taste good. And the surroundings you get to eat it in are good-looking as well.
What’s beautiful (& not-so-beautiful)
From the moment you walk in, the bright minimalist decor confirms you’re in the right place. Finished concrete floors gleam, tabletops sparkle, and the coffered ceiling tiles look beautiful. So much so that even my husband noticed them and bothered to say so.
Now let me warn you: The wait time, if you arrive between 12 noon and 1 pm, is not so beautiful. We waited 10 minutes before being seated.
Then Mr. K. ordered traditional style gom ramen. And I ordered gom ramen with spicy sauce and peppers and a topping of bulgogi beef. It didn’t take long to decide since the menu is short and simple to navigate.
But 20 minutes later, our meals still hadn’t arrived. And everyone at a table was eating, even the fellow at the next table who was seated after us.
How’d that happen?
Through the bar opening to the kitchen, I could see the chef stirring furiously — hopefully something delicious for us.
Just then, the chef directed the servers to give complimentary refreshments to everyone still waiting for a table and this show of thoughtfulness made me smile. I knew then that this had been an especially crazy busy lunch shift.
And, as if on cue, the server sat in front of me a big bowl that shimmered like brushed metal. All was forgiven.
Good & beautiful things come to those who wait.
My gom ramen bowl, with pepper sauce added for level “1” spiciness, was okay. But after sampling from my husband’s bowl — we included “I promise to give you reasonable access to my plate whenever we eat out” in his wedding vows — I found the traditional gom ramen much more savory.
And the steady stream of people waiting to dine-in or to pick up takeaway orders makes it clear I’m not the only one digging the food.
Doesn’t look like Gom Ramen will close anytime soon.
This is excellent since the restaurant’s menu also boasts two other Korean-style dishes I’ve yet to try: Gom Tang (rice with simmered broth) and Gom Suyuk (thinly-sliced beef simmered in broth).
So, yes, you can expect to see me enJoying more simmered good stuff from Gom Ramen in the future. And maybe a simmering hot cup of Korean-style coffee at the end of the meal. (Just never during the lunch hour. 😉)
Where & When:
1821 Hunter Drive, El Paso, TX (exit 27, I-10E) ~ 915.300.1110 ~ Hours: Sun 12-8p, M-Th 12-9p (CLOSED Tuesdays), F-Sat 12-10p
Want more ramen in the Southwest? Read about this Tonkotsu Ramen Lover Oasis in Tucson.