Sampling the complex Asian flavors—and of course, the ramen—at Chow Yum Phat

Ramen is a reason to live—so says my partner. In these parts, though, it’s not always easy to come by. But ever since Chow Yum Phat opened a brick-and-mortar location last September near the Perkins Road overpass, top-notch ramen can be ours.

The cozy restaurant offers a tightly curated menu that makes it easy to choose. Appetizers, or “Shares,” offer several choices with a suggestion to order a few items to share with the table. Having vegetarian options is always a plus, but seafood and meat choices are also available. The night we visited, there was an Evening Specials card offering other tasty morsels.

Doing what the menu suggested, we ordered several shareable plates that came out as they were ready.

First was the Cygon Rib Stack, which smelled divine. Tender short ribs reminded me of old-fashioned Chinese roast pork garnished with tart yet sweet pickled carrots and daikon radishes that added punchy flavors.

The Cygon Rib Stack offers a tower of tender short ribs garnished with pickled carrots and daikon radishes.

On left: Dan Dan Dumplings, packed with Szechuan-flavored pork, rest on a sweet and spicy chili peanut sauce. Turn to page 56 for info on how to buy the “crack crunch” Chow Yum Phat uses to top the dumplings and other dishes.

On right: Ramen is a must, and the Addie provides a fully loaded bowl of spicy miso paste, smoked chicken, pickled roasted corn, mushrooms, egg, noodles and a complex broth.

Next came steaming hot Salt and Pepper Cauliflower. A light crusting, delicate seasonings and sprinkles of fresh scallions and sliced jalapeños created an irresistible combination. Creamy yuzu aioli dip was lovely but unnecessary given the yumminess of the cauliflower on its own.

Dan Dan Dumplings had a hidden spice that snuck up as you chewed. Sweet and spicy chili peanut sauce added Asian zest to the Szechuan-flavored pork encased in perfect
al dente dumpling dough.

Mapo Tofu Hummus was gorgeously presented with chili oil and puréed eggplant decoratively striped across the top. The sauced tofu had an interesting sourness that was extremely pleasing. Pita was all but ignored for the crisp sesame crackers that added textural interest.

Last to arrive was the Mushrooms starter. Two thick, toasted baguettes were saturated with butter and topped with mushrooms. The flavors of the mushrooms were overwhelmed by additional butter, leaving a greasy mouthfeel.

Four ramen dishes are listed on the menu with three meat options and one vegetable/vegan option. We ordered the Oskar’s Wild and the Addie.

Superb noodles with subtle flavor and great chew were what we first noticed in both bowls. The Oskar’s Wild included beefy broth with luscious slices of beef that were so marvelous I thought it couldn’t get any better—until we tried the other ramen. The Addie included smokey, spicy, juicy, tender chicken that made me swoon. Though the broth for both was the CYP (Chow Yum Phat’s homemade broth base for all meat ramen options), it tasted totally different with more progressive heat and the deeper, richer flavor of the Addie.

Once we were full with the savory selections, we pondered dessert. Calas, described as a “Caribbean rice beignet,” was argued over between us. I thought it used rice flour, but the youngest eyes among us saw that indeed it was rice grains. Though I thought that revelation would deter me, I was surprised how pleasurably toothsome the rice was. An included Vietnamese coffee caramel dip was too legit to quit. I nearly made myself sick devouring this addictive saccharine concoction.

From the specials card, we added White Miso Creme Brûlée to our dessert course. The miso offered a savory new dimension to this usually rich dessert. Punctuations of crisp burnt sugar added just enough sugary components to keep my sweet tooth singing.

Though Chow Yum Phat appears small from the outside, colossal flavors burst forth inside. Seating is somewhat limited, but the space felt nonetheless cozy and congenial with an attentive and friendly staff.

It’s hot outside. You know you don’t feel like cooking. Why not let them do the cooking, deliciously? After all, I’ve come to agree with my partner: Ramen is life!

THE BASICS: Co-owners Vu “Phat” Le and Jordan Ramirez first started Chow Yum Phat inside the former food hall White Star Market, where it gained a following for its ramen bowls and inventive small plates. The brick-and-mortar location opened in September 2019 in the Perkins Road overpass area.

WHAT’S A MUST: Jump into the robust flavor profiles with the Cygon Rib Stack and Salt and Pepper Cauliflower, with its delicate crusting and yuzu aioli dip. Of the ramens, the Addie is a favorite for its smokey and spicy chicken and deeply flavored broth. Cool your taste buds with dessert, such as the Calas—a Caribbean rice beignet with Vietnamese coffee caramel dip.

Eat at Chow Yum Phat
2363 Hollydale Ave.

Tuesday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-8 p.m.
Friday-Saturday, 11 a.m.-9 p.m.
Closed Sunday and Monday

This article was originally published in the August 2020 issue of 225 Magazine.

Editor’s note: Check with the restaurant for the most up-to-date menu items.