Popular ramen joint Meshikou ditches pork broth for paitan. But what does that mean for our favorite noodle bowls?

Popular ramen joint Meshikou ditches pork broth for paitan. But what does that mean for our favorite noodle bowls?

Utter the word "ramen"and noodles waving in a deep, fatty pork broth likely come to mind. But at Meshikou, the city's lone ramen counter, the traditional Japanese soup is taking on new meaning, shifting from a traditional pork-broth lineup of tonkotsu to lighter paitan ramen. "It's a hearty chicken broth," says owner Mike Shek of paitan, which refers to an opaque white bone broth.

Shek decided to switch from pork broth when his bone purveyor's supply began running short last fall. "We make all our broths from scratch, and we're not going to change that," he says. It took months of testing to get the flavor and consistency just right-close to the density of the pork broth, but with a lighter poultry taste. "The biggest difference from the tonkotsu is the flavor and aftertaste," Shek says. "It's just a fresh chicken bone aftertaste."

The biggest home run on the paitan menu is the Fireball ($11), chicken broth infused with shio for intense umami and spicy garlic paste for a kick that isn't overly fiery. The dish is served with straight noodles and Meshiko's usual accountrement, such as kikurage mushroom, fish cake, a marinated soft-boiled egg and braised pork tenderloin. Expect the menu, which includes paitan ramen bowls such as shoyu, shio and spicy miso, to grow slowly over the coming season, Shek says, including the addition of ramen with black garlic oil.facebook.com/meshikou