I would like to say that I stumbled into Hiro Ramen House completely randomly but that would be the furthest thing from the truth. My client is pretty close to the 1102 Chestnut St location, but I came to Hiro’s specifically for the Karaage. I was looking for one of the top 12 Fried Chickens in Philadelphia … Hiro Ramen House review
So a couple things off the bat:
- There’s no sign in front to indicate that Hiro’s is actually Hiro’s
- You’re coming here for the food not the decor
- You can BYOB
- They only take cash!!! This one is a particular pet peeve of mine. To be fair though … they have a GIANT board that I took a picture of … and didn’t read, so this one’s on me!
- You’re not going to spend a lot of money, unless you come with an expense account to try a bunch of items off the menu.
So I did mention that you’re not coming here for the decor but rather the food. I ended up ordering the lunch special which is any Ramen + Garden Salad and a small app like the Karaage for $13. This is simply a phenomenal value. If I weren’t so determined to stuff myself before my 2-6pm meetings, I would have just had the lunch special and been quite full with it. I picked the “Gates of Hell” ramen, because I love my food spicy.
The ramen was simply excellent. The ramen came before the appetizer which was fine because I came for the Karaage. I enjoyed their broth which was lighter and richer without the shine of a super fatty without compromising the flavor profile. The one piece of Pork Belly Charsu was very good … I wish I got two pieces though or had the option of paying a $1 for another slide … because my mouth was sad at only getting one piece. I do think that if you’re going to bring me to the Gates of Hell, then it should be brutally spicy – this was basically just above “white people” spiciness … at. That being said, when I do repeat, I will order this again … but I will specify that should increase my bowl’s heat content by a 10X exponential factor
As for the main event … I was a disappointed. The Karaage was decent but nothing world beating or worth the walk for. It was a generous portion of underfried chicken to me. It was juicy and the mayo that went with it was nice, but this clearly could not be one of the top 12 fried chickens in Philadelphia.
This being said, I liked the vibe of Hiro a lot – pretty low-key (hard a little bit of a hard time figuring out whether the restaurant was actually Hiro in the beginning) and felt like a hole-in-the-wall while still looking clean! I’ll go back for another visit because I really would like to see their Karaage at its best. Maybe I’ll need to go after work rather than at lunch time.