Ramen Misoya | Mt. Prospect, Illinois

Ramen Misoya's exceptional ramen is worth the drive to Mt. Prospect

"Healthy" and "ramen" don't usually appear in the same sentence.

The deep bowls of springy noodles and voluptuous broth at Mt. Prospect's Misoya are hardly the stuff cardiologist's dreams–especially when they're lined with thick, grill-marked slices of cha-shu (roast pork).

Thank goodness, then, for the miso. Each variety of ramen at this outpost of a Tokyo chain features a fermented bean paste.

The first page of Misoya's menu espouses the health benefits of the vitamin-rich paste: It may help prevent cancer, improve liver function and even remove freckles. According to the chain's director, Fumiyuki Tadokoro, "While you may not be able to live to 150 by eating miso every day, we hope that providing people with more chances to try it will result in longer and healthier lives."

At the very least, regular trips to Misoya will result in a more delicious life. Try dark, umami-rich mame (soybean) miso in Nagoya-style ramen, with that exceptionally flavorful miso-marinated cha-shu and panko-breaded fried shrimp ($13).

Japanese fried chicken and house-made gyoza merit honorable mentions.

We ordered Hokkaido-style kome miso as yasai (vegetable) ramen ($10) with carrots, scallions, cabbage, corn and fried sweet potatoes bobbing in the deep yellow pork-miso broth.

Hokkaido- and Kyoto-style ramen at Misoya

Shiro miso broth is the sweetest of the three. Order it with spicy miso paste and chile oil ($10) for an extra jolt of flavor–and health, of course.