Yona’s Creamy Vegetable Ramen. (Renee Comet for The Washington Post; styling by Bonnie S. Benwick)

Chef Jonah Kim knows how to make a vegetarian ramen taste as creamy as the richest pork broth-based bowl: He adds soy milk. Not just any soy milk, though. The chef at Yona restaurant in Arlington buys Banrai brand, a Japanese product that is chiefly used to make tofu, due to its thicker consistency and higher percentage of soy. If you can’t find it (in Asian stores such as Hana Japanese Market on U Street NW in the District or Lotte markets in Virginia and Maryland), get 3 cups of the purest 100 percent soy milk you can find and boil it to reduce by one-third. It’ll be worth it.

Creamy Vegetable Ramen

4 servings

Where to Buy: Look for Banrai brand Japanese soy milk, Sun Noodle fresh ramen noodles and aonori at Hana Grocery in the District and at Lotte Plaza Market stores in Virginia and Maryland. If you can’t find Japanese soy milk, which has a thicker consistency due to a higher percentage of soy, reduce 3 cups of regular 100 percent soy milk over medium heat to 2 cups before using. Look for black garlic in Asian supermarkets and also under the Melissa’s brand at Harris Teeter stores.


For the broth

1 pound carrots, scrubbed well then cut into 1-inch pieces

1 pound yellow onions, cut into 1-inch pieces

1/2 rib celery, cut into 1-inch pieces

4 cloves garlic, chopped

4 strips dried kombu

8 cups water

2 cups (16 ounces) Japanese soy milk, preferably Banrai brand (see headnote)

1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt, plus more as needed

For the ramen and garnishes

6 tablespoons canola oil

4 cloves black garlic (see headnote), diced

8 ounces royal trumpet, oyster or shiitake mushrooms, trimmed

1 cup snap peas, thinly sliced (may substitute snow peas)

2 heads baby bok choy (may substitute 2 cups pea shoots), thinly sliced

1 cup fresh mung bean sprouts

1 pound fresh ramen noodles, such as Sun Noodle brand (see headnote), divided into 4 equal portions

4 teaspoons aonori (Japanese seaweed flakes)

1 sheet roasted nori, cut into thin slivers


For the broth: Combine the carrots, onions, celery, garlic, kombu and water in a medium pot over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat so the liquid is barely bubbling; cook for 30 minutes. Strain the broth through a fine-mesh strainer and discard the solids. Return it to a clean pot over medium-low heat; add the soy milk and salt. Taste, and add more salt if needed. Cover to keep hot.

For the ramen and garnishes: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Heat 1/4 cup of the canola oil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add the black garlic, reduce the heat to low and cook until the oil becomes very fragrant, 5 to 10 minutes.

Toss the mushrooms with 1 tablespoon of the canola oil on a rimmed baking sheet. Roast until tender, 10 to 20 minutes. Let cool slightly, then cut into thick slices.

Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of canola oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Once the oil shimmers, add the snap peas, bok choy and bean sprouts; cook until barely wilted, 2 to 3 minutes.

Bring a medium pot of water to a boil over high heat.

Ladle 1/2 cup of the hot broth into each deep bowl. Add 1 tablespoon of the black-garlic oil (including chunks of the black garlic) and 1 teaspoon of the aonori to each portion.

Add 4 ounces of ramen noodles (one portion) to the boiling water; cook until barely tender, 30 to 90 seconds. Use a large slotted spoon or strainer to lift the noodles from the water, holding them over the pot to drain, then transfer them to one of the bowls. Repeat with the remaining noodles.

Finish by dividing the remaining hot broth among the bowls. Top with the mushrooms, sauteed vegetables and nori slivers.

Serve hot.

SOURCE Adapted from chef Jonah Kim of Yona restaurant in Arlington, Va.

Tested by Joe Yonan; email questions to food@washpost.com

NUTRITIONAL ANALYSIS Per serving: 550 calories, 21 g protein, 59 g carbohydrates, 31 g fat, 7 g saturated fat, 20 mg cholesterol, 990 mg sodium, 5 g fiber, 6 g sugar

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