If there’s something that Princeton seems to be overridden with (not including ice cream shops), it’s ramen. In the past few years, ramen shops have been sprouting up like weeds (not in a bad way — more like pretty weeds with flowers on them), making it hard to decide where to go. Group options and budget prices are always a plus while at school, so here are three options that will meet those needs and beyond!
Cozy Date Night: Ajiten
OK, before you look at the menu and cross this off your list, hear me out. Sure, a dragon roll here might run you $18, but the ramen makes up for it. The store is hard to find at first, tucked away in a basement on Chambers Street (just off Nassau). This tiny restaurant seats 22 people at a time and serves both sushi and ramen. The sushi is extremely expensive, mainly because the fish is sourced from New York City, but the ramen is the cheapest in Princeton. All of the broths are made in-house, and they offer six different kinds of ramen. If you’re in the mood for something light, I would recommend either the shio ramen or the chicken BT ramen. If you like spice, the Ajiten Ganso ramen is the way to go. Definitely order an egg on the side for an extra $1.50. Overall Ajiten is your best bet for a cozy, authentic ramen date night.
Price range: $10 to $14
Pros: Authentic, good for date night
Cons: Other stuff is $$$
Group Dinner Dates: Lan Ramen
This isn’t your typical “ramen.” Lan serves hand-pulled noodles, a Chinese (more specifically, Lanzhou style) version of “ramen.” They hired a chef to come all the way from China to hand pull the noodles, so every bowl is handled with care. They accommodate large groups well, and in the past, my friends and I have come here for birthday dinners. I would highly recommend getting the Lanzhou Beef Noodles or the Beijing style Zha Jiang Men. Lan is not cheap. The bowls are a bit small for the prices, but for a classier “ramen” experience, this is a great place to go with friends.
Price range: $12 to $15
Pros: Fancier, everything is handmade
Cons: Portion sizes are a bit small
The Pleasant Surprise: Genji Ramen
OK, this isn’t really within walking distance from campus, but it’s so good that it’s worth taking a $5 uber ride to Whole Foods (yes, this place is in Whole Foods). Run by a Japanese chef, Genji specializes in tonkotsu ramen, which is a pork-based broth, although they do have vegan or chicken-based options. Each serving, although served in a plastic bowl, is as good — if not better — than most high-end ramen places in NYC. I would recommend the Genji Original ramen or the Yuzu Chicken ramen.
Price range: around $12
Pros: Authentic and quick
Cons: Not within walking distance