Not to be confused with Ozu Ramen which inhabited the spot previously, Oozu Ramen is run by an entirely new team. I was excited to see vegetarian options on the new menu and even more excited to try them out.
The restaurant’s aesthetic is quite enjoyable, modern but not minimalistic. An animatronic bowl of ramen greeted me upon entering the small vestibule, along with a neon-esque sign and a wall covering made of faux plants. Very hip, it looked like a box hedge had taken over the top half of the wall.
The interior had a very cohesive feel including yatai-inspired decorative elements around the register area and kitchen window. There was a good amount of counter seating around the kitchen area and window, a quality I appreciate when considering options for a quiet lunch on campus.
Our order consisted of edamame, pork buns, shrimp tempura, spicy chicken ramen, vegetable ramen with seasoned egg add-on. We finished out the meal with strawberry and vanilla mochi ice cream.
The tempura shrimp ($7.95) were the first to come out, nicely plated on red checkered paper and a light garnish of seaweed flake. The batter was light and crispy, and the appetizer was enjoyed by my friends.
Additionally, the presentation for the pork buns (2 for $6.95) was nothing short of adorable.. Each steamed bun had an Oozu branding on the side, and the pair were served in a small steamer basket. My dining companion said the flavors were well balanced, and they would absolutely order the buns again.
For his entree, he went with the spicy chicken ramen ($13.50) and loved it. While not usually a soup person, he finished his bowl in record time, remarking that the spice level was pleasant and not too intense.
I enjoyed the lightly-salted edamame ($4.95) as my starter. It’s a menu classic for a reason, relatively easy to prepare and a flavor profile that’s perfectly middle of the road. However, I hadn’t lost sight of what I was there for though: the vegetable ramen, which came out shortly after.
In my vegetarian ramen with a seasoned egg yolk ($13.95), the wakame seaweed and seasoned egg stood out as the stars of the dish for me. The egg was nicely marinated and flavorful with a perfectly jammy yolk. In contrast, the broth and the noodles were a little underwhelming. The flavor of the broth seemed watered-down and lacking in that comforting umami associated with ramen. Especially with ingredients like broccoli and bamboo, I would have liked a bit more depth to the broth to balance the dish overall.
We opted for mochi ice cream for dessert, one strawberry and one vanilla (2 for $4.95). They were your standard commercial mochi ice creams, which wasn’t necessarily a bad thing. The whipped cream and rainbow sprinkle topping was a fun addition to the presentation.
My dining companion really enjoyed their meal and will likely go back again soon. I may go back to try the spicy creamy vegan ramen; maybe I’ll find the balance I hoped for in that bowl. On this trip though, we were served much more style than substance.
Here is a look at the menu at Oozu Ramen.
601 S Sixth St
11:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m., daily