Ramen at Work

Ren's Ramen reemerges with its classic Japanese noodle soups

When Ren's Ramen in Bethesda closed last September, it left a giant void for winter sustenance.

Then, during the warmest days of early summer, the tiny, cash-only noodle shop reopened in a nondescript Wheaton strip mall. With fall imminent, now is the time to celebrate its reawakening.

The concise menu offers Sapporo-style pork-based ramen with either miso, salt or soy flavoring. Each hearty bowl ($10) contains slices of roasted pork, ginger, ground beef, spears of preserved bamboo shoots, a glossy sheet of nori and a scatter of bean sprouts. After a long search for the ideal flavor and texture, owners Yoko and Eiji Nakamura started importing noodles from Japan to stand up to the salt and seasoning of the broth.

You can also customize an order with add-ons like pork belly ($1.75), steamed cabbage ($1), stewed fatty pork ($3.50) and second helpings of the standards.

A semipermanent special is bakudan ($11), a spicy ramen that spikes your choice of miso or salt broth with a thick chile paste. The burly broth slowly builds to a fiery depth of spice. Temper the heat with a soy-marinated soft-boiled egg ($2).

It's open season for Ren's.

Ren's Ramen, 11403 Amherst Ave., Wheaton; 301-693-0806 or rens-ramen.com