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Photo courtesy of Ella Kearney

Dining Out: Mashumen Ramen Shop

April 23, 2021

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Do you love ramen? Have you been searching for a restaurant that serves homemade noodles? If you answered yes to both of these questions, then Mashumen, located on Fontaine Street, is the restaurant for you. Their savory broth combined with sweet and flavorful vegetables will leave your mouth watering. The restaurant mainly attracts younger crowds, as it is close to UVA.

The menu offers a variety of ramen, appetizers, rice bowls (vegetarian options are also available). They also serve a signature dessert called Mashu Buns, which are custard filled milk buns.

I ordered the Vegetarian Shoyu Ramen, which includes a savory shoyu broth, tofu chashu, menma, half ajitama(egg), crunchy bean sprouts, bok choy, sweet and flavorful mushrooms, scallions, and nori(seaweed). My mother ordered the Tantanmen Ramen, which came with a sesame-miso-tonkotsu broth, sweet bean minced pork, rayu chili oil, half ajitama, bean sprouts, scallions, bok choy, and nori.

For starters, the restaurant was rather busy on that Thursday night. Honestly, the busy-ness of the restaurant is a hit or miss. The last time I ate at Mashumen there was only one other party in the dining area. The staff is limited, which caused a longer wait on our food, and we felt rushed to leave because they were so busy.

The ramen is served in a large bowl and contains an assortment of toppings (depending on what you order). The first thing we tasted was the broth which was flavorful and very light-tasting. My mother described hers as spicy and thick. Next, we tried it all together, the noodles, the broth, and the toppings. The noodles were thin and extra firm, just what I look for in ramen, and the vegetables were fresh and sweet.

All together, the ramen was everything I hoped it would be, the flavors meshed together wonderfully, and the broth really brought out the flavor in the vegetables. Overall, the food was an 8 out of 10. I thought it could have used a bit more spice, but that all depends on preference.

As for atmosphere, it’s a good place to bring a date or if you’re looking for something different. The lighting is dim, and the music has a hip vibe to it. The decoration is Japanese with a modern twist. On one of the walls within the dining area is painted with a gorgeous eye-catching mural of the Japanese koi fish. I could not take my eyes off the vibrant oranges and reds displayed beautifully on top of the black background.

Another one of their walls, on the other hand, was very disorienting and painful to the eye. My mother described the wall as something along the lines of an optical illusion, and found it very distracting and uneasy on the eyes. The lobby also contained some outdated Holiday decorations which put me off a bit.

Our bill came out to be about $30, which is pretty pricey for two bowls of noodles. Each dish on the menu ranges from $13-$20. So if you are trying to save up those funds, I would not recommend eating at Mashumen.

After we paid for our meals and began to leave, we struggled to leave the restaurant. The parking lot is extremely tiny, and was very crowded by the time we left. I would recommend parking in the Guadalajara parking lot if Mashumen is busy that night, because let me just say, it was a nightmare getting out of that place.

I would not recommend this restaurant for a family gathering, but rather a meal with friends. They offer limited seating for large groups, but the tables are very evenly spaced out to follow the Covid guidelines. You can tell that the workers put in a lot of effort to keep the place sanitized.

All in all, if you’re not on a budget and are willing to deal with some parking and service issues, you’ll have a good experience at this restaurant. Like I mentioned previously, the food was an 8/10. But due to spotty service, parking issues, and some questionable decoration, I rate my overall experience a 7 out of 10.

They are open from 11 am to 9:30 pm Sundays through Thursdays, and 11 am to 10:30 pm Fridays and Saturdays. Be wary on which day you decide to go, or you might get roped into a parking disaster.

If there are any ramen lovers out there, I would definitely recommend going to Mashumen.

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