Vegan RAAAAAMEN at Daruma Ramen

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(post by Julie)

It’s Free Week here in Austin, the week when the city makes up for the mayhem SXSW inflicts on locals by letting us wander in and out of bars and music venues without paying a cover (or that’s the origin story I’ve heard, at least; however it happened, it’s a week of free music and I’ll gladly take advantage). It’s been chilly here and, while it wasn’t quite freezing last night, the forecast calls for some mighty low temperatures later in the week. The only way to prepare for the impending tundra was with soup. And not just any soup. RAMEN.

I’ve passed Daruma Ramen on Sixth Street many times, but had never ventured in before last night. The restaurant squeezes an impressive amount of comfortable seating into its small space. Two long communal tables fill up the room, with bar seating offered on either side. We pulled up a stool, unwound our scarves and ordered a bottle of sake.

I was pleasantly surprised to find not one but two clearly labeled vegan ramen options on the menu. I expected to have to do a lot of “Hold the egg,” and “You swear under penalty of Zeus that this is VEGGIE broth, right?” Nope. No such issues. My dining buddy and I ordered both vegan bowls.

I had the Veg Ramen, which is basically a bad ass salad on top of a bad ass bowl of noodles and veggie broth. Spring mix, carrots, grape tomato, red onion, scallions, fried onion, ginger oil and lime. I ate the whole damn thing. It was nourishing and satisfying and left me wondering why I haven’t been combining my soup and my salad my entire life.

My buddy had the Veg Miso Ramen. The broth in this bowl was rich and savory. The noodles were topped with a golden pillow of fried tofu and a pile of bean sprouts. My buddy also ate the whole damn thing, but not as fast as I ate mine.

This will now be a regular stop for me on a night out at the Red River bars. Nothing prepares your stomach for Lone Star and whiskey like a big bowl of floating veggies and noodles.

As for the music – we wandered into Swan Dive, peered over the fence at Cheer Up Charlie’s, and finally wound up at Mohawk where we caught a set by Feverbones. A good night all around. Cold weather, do your worst. I’ll just eat more salad soup.

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