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Can't-miss dishes: Righteous ramen at Sato

If you're familiar with ramen only as six-for-a-dollar dried soup packets, you have my condolences. Ramen isn't just another bowl of noodle soup. It's a meal in itself. It's an art form. Its masters may use various long-simmered stocks, toppings and flourishes, but they all deserve places in the Albright-Knox of soup.

On the night in February I went to review Sato (739 Elmwood Ave., 931-9146), the signature house ramen was out. Gone. I wrote my review anyway, because that's my job.

Last night I returned to Sato, for the ramen.

My first bite unleashed a wave of sadness. Why did it take me this long?

I got over it real quick. Because the ramen at Sato is righteous.

I tried the house ramen, above, and the spicy miso ramen, below. They both have chewy, fresh noodles, broth that's substantial enough to enjoy all by itself, and lots of good stuff riding on top, each its own little pleasure.

The soup costs $14. It's big enough for a meal, but that's still a lot of money for a bowl of soup in Buffalo.

But would you pay $14 for the chance to nourish yourself while reflecting on how awesome life is right now? A great bowl of soup can do that.

Bring a buddy to share with if your wallet's light. Chances are they'll thank you.

The spicy miso was my choice. That's a well-calibrated dose of chile in that broth, further enriched with fermented soybean paste. In February a bowl of this stuff will save lives.

Spicy miso ramen at Sato

If you don't dig meat, there's a vegetarian version too, with a caramelized vegetable and konbu stock, topped with snap peas, mushrooms, bean sprouts scallions and carrots. Having enjoyed Chef Satomi Smith's vegetable skills, I would bet it's good.

Is Sato's ramen the best soup in Buffalo? I can't say. There are so many I haven't tried.

It does makes me want to start the poll.


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