Entertainment, On A High Note

Otaku Ramen: Adding a new flavor to Nashville’s food scene

Nashville has become a melting pot over the past several years, bringing with it a host of people from across the country and around the world. That diversity is reflected in the city’s booming food scene, which features an endless array of cultural cuisine from craft beer and burgers to multicultural dishes.

Just one of the many mouthwatering new eateries to hit the Nashville scene is Otaku Ramen in the Gulch. Started by chef Sarah Gavigan, a Tennessee native, and her husband Brad as a pop up eatery, Otaku Ramen has made a name for itself as a standout Japanese restaurant.

Gavigan spent 20 years in LA and became compelled to open an authentic ramen restaurant after discovering that void had not been filled in Nashville. Learning from online videos, Gavigan became dedicated to the craft of making authentic ramen. She surprisingly found that the region has some interesting ties to the Japanese culture, discovering that Shiso, a Japanese herb, grows wild in Middle Tennessee, which is also home to several similar flavors and vegetables as Japan. What’s also fascinating is that Nashville sits on almost the same latitude as Tokyo, making this new type of eatery the perfect fit for the area.

Otaku serves as the ideal lunch or dinner spot with a loved one or a group of friends with its chic atmosphere and cozy seating areas. A personal favorite dish is that of the Shoyu that features a succulent chicken broth and decadent pork belly. While a Japanese dish, the Tennessee Tonkotsu also includes a local touch, as Tennessee hams are utilized to make the savory pork bone broth.

Other traditional ramen bowls offered at the authentic establishment include the Spicy Miso, Curry Shio, Veggie Miso and more. In addition, Otaku also boasts a variety of other eclectic bites like seaweed salad, lotus root chips and gyoza, in addition to a Japanese spin on a Nashville favorite, the Hot Chicken Buns, made from an original hot spice sauce and steamed bao bun.

Otaku Ramen’s Sarah Gavigan learned how to authentically make the dish before opening the city’s first ramen eatery. PHOTO COURTESY OF OTAKU RAMEN

An interesting, and unique, aspect of the ramen experience is the slurping. While often times it’s considered a rude eating habit, it’s actually a compliment to the chef in the ramen world. Seeing as the ramen is served to guests at its peak, it’s almost a requirement to slurp down quickly and savor the rich flavor. Of course a standout part of the dish are its noodles, which are made especially to the meal’s flavor and broth. Additionally, the noodles are made from a family-owned company that’s been with Otaku since day one, adding a personal touch to an already standout dish.

If you’re looking for spot that offers a new flavor while still incorporating the local touch, then Otaku Ramen is the ideal location. Gavigan’s talent for creating an authentic dish from across the globe that still includes her Tennessee roots makes for a truly special dining experience in Music City.



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