Taste the Umami at Nexto

A couple of weeks ago, February didn’t get the memo about being cold and left March to pick up the slack. Ringing in Soup Season 2.0, I decided to step out of my kitchen in search of something hot, savory, and familiar– RAMEN. Not the ramens of yore once picked up at Kroger and eaten while crying into styrofoam 3 minutes later in your dorm room. I searched for genuinely crafted, immortalized in Japanese culture ramen. A trip to Buford Highway was too long for me to wait out hangry feelings, so I headed to Nexto, Atlanta’s newest ramen joint next to Two Urban Licks.

The restaurant occupies a perfectly square annex building by the Telephone Factory Lofts. Once inside, the high ceilings and rustic hints announce a modern version of a traditional ramen shop. The bar and kitchen remain nearly hidden, allowing for the seating area to occupy most of the space.  Surrounded by huge windows that look out to bamboo plants and blue sky, the aesthetic lends the illusion of being transported somewhere else. The sleek angular glass tables around you make you feel like you’re still in the 21st century while the wooden walls echo the timeless tradition of such a provincial and influential soup.

The menu is very small, listing about seven entrees, four of them being soup. It was a toss up initially of choosing between the shrimp or the pork. I asked my server what he would choose and he recommended the tonkotsu– a soup with pork belly, menma (fermented bamboo shoots), egg and scallions — without any hesitation. That made choosing a lot easier!

The broth was flavorful and fatty with the salty flavor of charred pork bleeding into the broth. Spring onion flavors danced with the noodles, the custard of the soft boiled egg, no doubt cooked in the broth, delicately spilled from its solid white and intermingled with the noodles. The pork belly was a balance of crispy and silky textures, each bite was a perfectly salted piece of meat and succulent fat. The soup hit all the spots and left me feeling satiated enough that I couldn’t justify trying one of their appetizers despite really wanting to.

Dinner seems to be a more popular time to visit Nexto and requires that you take advantage of their complementary valet parking. However, if you go for lunch, you can park your car yourself. But if you find yourself walking, you can avoid parking altogether and just walk right in, of course!  And while the weather now creeps to hotter temperatures, keep in mind that hot liquids help to lower your body’s temperature and may be an unconventional way of cooling yourself off this Spring! In any case, go enjoy some of this hot and savory soup on a gorgeous day or a rainy one.

About Lee Ogilvie

Lee Ogilvie is an Atlanta-based writer who enjoys local coffee houses, farmers' markets, and Free Art Fridays. She uses 'art' as a verb and lives life with food on her face. She resides in Sylvan Hills with her boyfriend and her plucky cat, Artemis. You'll find her blogging about her lunches at Lee Makes Lunch

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