If you’re a food-lover, it’s always great to get tips and recommendations from your network. On a recent trip to Charlotte, we’re heading back and looking for a bite to eat. My friend Art (@ruwandering), tells me about a ramen shop he heard about downtown through his friends. So yes, off we go to find Futo Buta and a good bowl of ramen in the Queen City!
Be aware that Futo Buta is in a tricky and hard to find spot. While the address says Bland Street, there wasn’t much (any?) parking there and regardless of where you park, you’ll have to hoof it over a bit. I ended up on South Boulevard at a meter which is pretty close. Out front, Futo Buta has a small sidewalk patio and corner entrance. The inside of Futo Buta is really nicely done. A classic ramen bar, communal table with high-top seating (interesting Japanese influenced, metal chairs) along with some small 2-tops. It has the feel of an izakaya but dotted with kitschy little touches.
The menu is pretty short with a handful of small plates, buns and six ramen bowls. I go for my favorites: some pork belly buns along with shoyu ramen! The servers at Futo Buta are pretty young but well-trained, working in a team service. Our starters show up, some grilled brussel sprouts along with my buns. The sprouts look great, seared nicely with large bonito flakes (smoked tuna) scattered on top for extra flavor. It’s a good portion but thankfully, pretty healthy. I get two pork belly buns that are well-steamed and presented with a thick, slice of belly along with some finely shredded slaw. Some scallions and a slightly spicy gochujang bbq sauce is smeared on the bun. It’s a subtle and lighter presentation for a pork belly bun, nicely done!
Our bowls of ramen show up next and they are lovingly served up in conical earthenware with a small plastic broth spoon. A jar of chopsticks sit on the table at the ready for the meal. Peering into my bowl I’ve got some nicely browned broth, along with 2 or 3 slices of pork, half an egg and some other greens (seaweed, bamboo, spring onion). The noodles are toothsome and the broth has some good depth to it without being salty, excellent. Digging around the bowl, there’s a lot of flavor and textures going on here and it’s a tasty meal! And at $12, plenty of food for the price.
A quick stop to the restroom shows off some anime figures painted on the doors. We grab our check and pay up, Futo Buta is slowly filling up with couples and the younger crowd in this neighborhood. And all I can say is that I was impressed! While the menu is a slight spin on Japanese, it felt relatively authentic and real to me. Along with the decent prices, hip decor and solid service, I’m thinking this place would probably be really popular in an easier to find location. But not to worry my friend! If you make the effort to find Futo Buta in Charlotte you’ll realized it’s worth the trouble. Because it’s hard to go wrong with a delicious bowl of ramen to get your evening started…