mitsuwa marketplace, arlington heights

Mitsuwa Marketplace, 100 E. Algonquin Rd, Arlington Heights, IL, USA

Let's begin with a bit of history from the Santouka website:

Santouka started its history when founder Hitoshi Hatanaka said to his family.

"I'm going to make delicious ramen."

You see, Mr. Hatanaka had recently seen the film Tampopo and suddenly was not happy with the current state of ramen. And while his abrupt decision to make the tastiest possible ramen was sort of like watching the movie Big Night and deciding to make the best pasta of all time, or watching the movie Barbershop and deciding you're going to be the one to perfect the high-top fade, Hatanaka actually did it.

santouka arlington heights

It's hard to imagine another ramen superseding Santouka's as my favorite; I first had it in Los Angeles a dozen or so years ago and have yet to tire of it. Praise be the Ramen Gods that when I moved to Chicago (immediately after watching the movie Chicago), I discovered there was a Santouka there, too!

The Arlington Heights location poses a little bit of a dilemma for me, as it is perilously close to Johnnie's Beef, another place I am powerless to resist. I'm proud to say, though, that I have never eaten one directly after eating the other. Yet.

santouka arlington heights

Good ol' #7—regular salt ramen with special pork, aka shio toro, $14.47. The quality, presentation, and service here is consistent with any other Santouka, because perfectionism is inherent to the entire chain. Ambiance-wise, this one is a lot like the one in Torrance, as the Mitsuwa Marketplace it's in is large and extremely Asian (in all the best ways). And while nowadays there is no shortage of ramen joints even in the 'burbs, I still happily travel a little further than I need to because of one man's crazy dream.

God bless you, Mr. Hatanaka. Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go watch the movie Debbie Does Dallas and then become the best screwer who ever laid pipe in a cheerleader.

Review by Pumboo Dongo-Dohnoh, September 2019