As the temperature slowly begins to wane, and as the days get shorter and shorter, we can safely say goodbye to summer salads and fresh farmer’s market fruits, and look forward to the quintessential fall comfort food. That’s right, it’s soup season! And what better way to start off soup season than with a heavy helping of a college favorite- the humble bowl of ramen?
If you’re craving this classic, look no further. Akira Ramen and Izakaya is situated on East Joppa road, right above the bustling Towson Town Center. It’s a relatively small establishment, but you can bet that most weekends, nearly every table and booth are packed to the brim all the way until closing time at 10:30 PM, a testament to the quality of the food.
(Source: Whisk + Quill)
When it comes to the dishes themselves, each order of ramen comes with a delicious tonkatsu broth, full of healthy collagens and fats, as well as wood ear mushrooms, a jammy egg, corn, bamboo shoots, scallion, and their specialty noodles, which come in two styles: curly, or skinny, depending on your order. Where each ramen differs depends on what protein you decide to get. The seafood ramen, my personal choice, comes with squid, mussels and shrimp, while their more traditional Akira, Volcano/Spicy Akira, and tonkotsu miso bowls come with pork belly. Some even have their protein on the side, such as their karaage (fried chicken) ramen or their tempura shrimp ramen. Some don’t even have meat at all, such as their vegetable ramen, which forgoes it in favor of bok choy.
Each ramen comes in at around 13 USD to 20 USD depending on the bowl, and if you see something you really want, you can add extra toppings, egg, or meat for a little bit more.
But Akira doesn’t just serve ramen, and it would be a crime to discount their other dishes, after all, it is an Izakaya establishment. Izakaya literally translates to “Stay-Drink-Place”, and as such carries appetizers, skewers, sushi, and rice dishes to pair with alcohol, soda, or milk tea. Though, if you’re getting sushi, I would say go with a roll rather than their sushi donuts. They’re a lot more creative and you get more sushi. If you’re struggling with picking an appetizer, I would say get the karaage, or spurge a bit for their Towson crab dumplings- their take on crab rangoons- with spicy mayo, nice and hot from the fryer.
And if you still want more after all of that, Akira also carries desserts in connection with it’s next door neighbor, Kyoto Matcha. You can pick up all sorts of yummy treats such as mochi, ice cream, crepe cakes, a matcha tiramisu, or a best seller- the Dream of Sakura, a set of two raindrop cakes made with agar agar, with cherry blossoms inside and covered in a sugary soy powder glaze (though, the best time to get these would be in April or May, right as cherry blossom season is in full swing). Cakes usually go from 11.95 to 15 dollars, with their mochi costing around 4.95 and Dream of Sakura costing around 12 USD.
(Source: Kyoto Matcha)
Going back to the atmosphere, Akira Ramen and Izakaya focuses on the traditional laid-back atmosphere of a Japanese Izakaya. Even with the crowded nature of it all, you never feel like it’s too much. In fact, the restaurant feels intimate at times. Classic J-pop and anime openings play at a comfortable volume, you can see into the back of the kitchen as the chefs prepare your dishes, and the staff are accommodating and welcoming no matter how many people are in- even their robot waiter, who comes equipped with enough shelves to carry an entire table’s worth of orders directly to the right group, along with a cute cat face!
Each table is always given a complimentary jug of iced water to serve themselves, and the waitstaff make sure you never run out. At the end of your meal, feel free to grab a melon hard candy from the front to cleanse your palette.
This may seem like a no-brainer to many established with the Towson area. But for those newly acquainted with the space, or those who were a little hesitant regarding if they should go or not, then I would say: go! Enjoy soup season, maybe catch a movie at the local Cinemark afterward, or just spend time with friends at this cozy little location.
By Katelyn Krapf ’24
Disclaimer: This piece was published as a student’s op-ed submission. The Quindecim is a space for all students within the Goucher community to express their views and beliefs. These pieces are released in the name of journalistic integrity and not in an attempt to antagonize or reflect the institution of Goucher as a whole.