1981 Ramen Bar
A three-foot-tall stockpot in the kitchen simmers broth for up to 48 hours to make these unctuous soups. The Smoked Chicken bowl is especially satisfying—the long-cooked chicken broth is rich and flavorful and garnished with smoked chicken, fresh noodles, a marinated egg, and brown butter corn. The two pork ramen dishes both start with a base of heritage-breed bones simmered for two full days with vegetables and apples to extract a rich, slightly sweet stock. And the vegetarian version starts with house-made miso. Don’t be put off by the urban decay décor; staff could not be more welcoming.
129 Merrimack St., Lowell, 1981ramenbar.com
The names are silly (the pork-based offering is named Swine Line), but the soup is serious. Everything is slow-cooked and locally sourced where possible. Hopscotching across Asia for influences, in a funky space that shows martial arts movies, you will never be bored.
41 Lafayette St., Salem, 978-594-4197, kokeshirestaurant.com