New ramen restaurant Furious Spoon opens in downtown Evanston


Molly Glick/The Daily Northwestern

Customers wait outside Furious Spoon for its Thursday 5 p.m. grand opening. The ramen restaurant is located at Maple Avenue and Church Street downtown.

Ben Pope, Summer Editor

College students love ramen.

It’s an age-old fact that Chef Shin Thompson, owner of the Furious Spoon restaurant that opened Thursday night in downtown Evanston, was well aware of when bringing his ramen-focused, Chicago-area chain within a few blocks of Northwestern’s campus.

Thompson also sees a desire for better ramen — not just the microwave-in-90-seconds kind — in such college students.

“People are starting to recognize ramen as a legitimate cuisine and not just your college ramen packs,” Thompson said. “We make all our noodles from scratch, and it’s an art form just like any other cuisine.”

And indeed, the menu at Furious Spoon, located at the intersection of Maple Avenue and Church Street across the street from Cinemark Century movie theater, consists almost entirely of ramen.

Customers can choose between four broths — chicken, shrimp, tonkotsu (pork) or veggie — and a variety of meats, vegetables and other toppings. The broths are made with bones and simmered overnight as part of an 18-hour process, Thompson said, and each comes in different varieties, as well.

“We are very ramen-centric,” Thompson said. “A lot of restaurants that do ramen maybe have ramen as part of their menu. It’s the bulk of our menu.”

Thompson, who attended Evanston Township High School, said Furious Spoon has already had discussions about partnering with various NU student groups. He added that he hopes the restaurant’s proximity to the movie theater will also attract more customers, including both NU students and Evanston families.

Furious Spoon’s late-night hours are designed to accommodate NU students in particular, Thompson said, with the restaurant serving ramen until 3 a.m. on Saturday night, 2 a.m. on Friday night and 1 a.m. on all other nights.

“Obviously we want to heavily market to the Northwestern community, because they’re a really important part of our business model,” he said. “The college students appreciate more options for late night for studying and whatnot.”

At the grand opening of the restaurant’s Evanston location — it also has four in Chicago — on Thursday at 5 p.m., the first 100 customers were given a free meal.

One of the 100 was Davin Loh, 30, who said the food was better than at Table to Stix, another Asian noodle restaurant on Davis Street.

“I think this is actually a very good complement to (Table to Stix), so the students at Northwestern are really going to like that,” Loh said. “I’ve had Table to Stix before, (but) I just simply prefer this.”

The modern side of Furious Spoon includes two attributes that wouldn’t often be associated with an authentic ramen restaurant: an extensive alcohol selection, including numerous cocktail drinks, and blaring ’90s hip-hop music.

“The music is a nice addition,” said Jasmine Johnson, another member of the first 100 customers, with a laugh. “I’ve never been so pumped during my entire meal (before).”

The process of finding a location in Evanston took two years and included several dead ends, Thompson said, until the 1700 Maple Ave. storefront opened up when Red Robin Burger Works left and he “jumped on it.”

Now that Furious Spoon is settled in and serving customers, however, Thompson said operating a store in his hometown has realized a longtime dream of his.

He’s hoping Evanston residents — and NU students — will soon see why.

Molly Glick contributed reporting.

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Twitter: @benpope111