I love a Saturday lunch date! And what better way to spend a gloomy, chilly Saturday afternoon than with a steaming bowl full of ramen? I’ve been dying to try South End’s popular ramen noodle dive, Futo Buta. We opted for a late lunch (around 3PM) because I was aware of its limited space and its was a tad too chilly for us to dine out on the patio. Even at 3PM, this South End favorite was hoppin’ so we had a slight wait. It’s cozy dining space consists of only a handful of tables, barstools and bar tops lining the dining room walls and a central bar located in front of the kitchen. Despite the crowded dining room, our service was impeccable.
We love the Charlotte brewery scene so we started our lunch with a pour of Juicy Jay brewed locally by Legion Brewery and can of Cherry Bobbin Trolls by Red Clay Ciderworks. The Juicy Jay, an East Coast IPA, is a pleasant sip of tropical citrus flavors pulled from its Mosaic, El Dorado and Cascade hops. I’m a cider kinda gal, so I chose the locally brewed Cherry Bobbin Trolls. The cider boasts strong flavors of cherries just as its name implies. The tartness of cherry combined with juicy local North Carolina apples provides the perfect balance of flavors.
The “Rice Crispy Squares” piqued our interest: spicy tuna, crispy fried rice accompanied by a wasabi soy dipping sauce, and we had a chance to see it presented to our bar seat neighbors, and we knew it wasn’t an appetizer to pass up. The rice crispy squares arrived on our plate like little Christmas packages you are anxious to open on Christmas Day, and that they were. These little packages came fried to perfection with a gooey rice center. The spicy tuna arrived in another package, a tiny mason jar, talk about an innovative plate presentation!
Once our appetizer disappeared, our main dishes arrived rather quickly. My steaming bowl full of steaming ramen was the perfect choice for this chilly, dreary day. I selected their special Butternut Miso seasonal ramen dish, and was not disappointed with my decision. Its earthy flavors of shiitake mushrooms, roasted butternut squash, scallions, smoked cauliflower and yuzu combination provided a surprisingly thick, and rather dense, broth. Seeing as it’s only their “seasonal” ramen you better make this your next meal before it’s replaced!
My lunch date chose the “Tonkoysu”, a pork based ramen bowl with pecan smoked pork belly, scallions, organic mushrooms, pickled ginger, nori, sesame and black garlic topped with an onsen swimming in a pool of pork bone broth. This dish is everything you would expect from a classic ramen noodle bowl. The only regret from our lunch outing is that we didn’t save room for dessert. There’s always next time.
Meet Susannah: Charlotte transplant by way of Arkansas. A passion for experiencing new places dish by dish, sip by sip. I’ve led a life of southern hospitality beginning with my education from the University of New Orleans where I was always looking for the next best piece of bread pudding or king cake, former professional cook and travel agent (best job ever!). I love to share my food, drink and travel experiences for anyone who wants to listen. Giving back is part of my life professionally and leisurely because “the meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away”—William Shakespeare