In search of ramen, I visited Modan Artisan Ramen in South Pasadena. Not only did I find ramen, I discovered the best brussels sprouts I’ve ever eaten, oddly enough, in this small restaurant, which shares a parking lot with Bristol Farms.
Modan Artisan Ramen takes its name from the Japanese slang term “modan,” meaning modern. Their menu is more extensive than you would expect from a restaurant of this size, even including several starters. If you order a side salad, you’ll get a large bowl filled with mixed baby greens, carrots, cabbage, lightly dressed with a mustard ponzu dressing and some kabocha chips. The salad is big enough for two or three to share, refreshing on a hot summer’s day.
Their gyoza are deep fried, five to an order. I can’t comment on them as my daughter scarfed them all down.
The real standout were the fried brussels sprouts, crispy on the outside, yet soft in the middle. They were a a little sweet, a lot salty and paired nicely with the white truffle garlic aioli. I never thought I would say this about brussels sprouts, but they were completely irresistible.
Modern has six different ramens on their menu, including a vegetarian/vegan option in a miso vegetable broth. Their signature Modan tonkotsu ramen had the appropriate milky appearance and wasn’t too salty, nor was it particularly flavorful. The ramen came topped with pork belly, wood mushrooms, green onions, a soy-marinated soft-boiled egg, black garlic truffle oil and seaweed sheet. The pork belly was leaner than most, which I appreciated.
If ramen is too hot for you, Modan has a cold dipping noodle on special during the summer months. Their interpretation of dipping noodles was more interesting, using kale ramen (which are vegan), accompanied by braised pork, egg, bamboo shoots, cucumbers and bamboo shoots and a side of cold shoyu broth.
For those looking for something not as heavy as the tonkotsu ramen, the shoyu ramen is perfect – with a chicken soy sauce broth, pork belly, green onions, bamboo shoots, soy-marinated soft-boiled egg and seaweed sheet. It was lighter and cleaner than its tonkotsu counterpart.
If you’re not in the mood for ramen, Modan has rice bowls and salads, along with starters like soft shell crab sliders and curry fries to pork belly tacos and, of course, those epic brussels sprouts. The sign as you exit says, “Leave full.” With so many delicious options to choose from, not only will you leave full, you’ll leave happy too.
Location – 700 Fair Oaks Set. G, South Pasadena 91030. Additional Eagle Rock location.
Website – http://www.modanramen.com
Kid-Friendly – Yes
Kid’s Menu – No
Vegetarian/Vegan Friendly – Yes
Gluten-Free Options – Yes