From Indian curries to fiery salsas and Cajun favorites, Houstonians have consistently showed affection for restaurants that aren’t afraid to spice things up. A ramen restaurant opening soon in the Heights is counting on that enthusiasm extending to Japanese noodles.
Killer Noodle has claimed the former Cane Rosso space at 1835 N. Shepherd Dr. for its first Houston location. Scheduled to open October 15, the Los Angeles-based restaurant is known for its tantanmen noodles, a style that comes from China’s Sichuan province. Served with or without broth, they’re available in seven spices levels (zero to six) and seven levels of numbing, its take on the signature mala tingle of Sichuan cuisine.
“In Japan, there is such a wide spectrum for ramen. There are many different styles, flavors, and quality,” director of marketing Yuino Kumamoto tells CultureMap in an email. “At Killer Noodle, all these factors are taken into consideration to provide our guests with a unique style of spicy ramen called ‘Dan Dan Men.’ The rich peanut flavor, fresh ingredients, irresistible spice quality, or mouth numbing experience (if you so choose) are just a few reasons Killer stands out amongst the rest.”
Diners can add toppings such as a poached egg, chashu (rolled pork belly), and vegetables. In addition to its noodles, the restaurant offers appetizers such gyoza, takoyaki, and karaage.
The restaurant grew out of the Tsujita restaurant group that started in Tokyo in 2003. Founder Takehiro Tsujita has grown the company to 18 locations in Japan, along with two more in America and two Killer Noodles in Los Angeles. Jonathan Gold, the late, award-winning food critic for the Los Angeles Times, praised Killer Noodle in a 2018 review.
You try the Tokyo-style noodles with soup, level three (sansho level four), and you like them a lot. The soup is thick with ground nuts, the top is sprinkled with sesame seeds and what taste like chopped cashews, and there is an almost imperceptible funk of dried shrimp.
It is spicy but not too spicy. The downtown-style ramen you swipe from the bowl next to you is good too — a little sweeter, a little more vinegar-forward, with broth a bit thinner . . . Your lips do not vibrate quite so vividly with the particular numbing effect of the pepper.
The restaurant has big plans for Houston. A second location is scheduled to open on Westheimer next year, and the company is looking for a third that would open by 2025.
“Houston is one of the best places on earth to enjoy fine cuisine from all over the world, and at Killer Noodle we want to continue that trend by offering Houstonians a unique, authentic, and innovative style of enjoying a Japanese classic,” Kumamoto adds. “Houston is very diverse with foodies who are not afraid to turn up the spice!”
Killer Noodle joins an area that’s home to several ramen options. It will be located just down the street from one of Jinya Ramen Bar’s eight Houston-area locations. Rakken Ramen, another Los Angeles-based restaurant, is located in the M-K-T mixed-use development, while Las Vegas’s Shokku Ramen is open 24-7 on Studewood.