From the decorations to the Japanese food, walking into Neko Ramen & Rice gives one the sense you’ve landed in Japan on the whimsical side. Features include an entire wall of lucky kitties, a nod to the restaurant’s name, which means “cat” in Japanese. Aside from the beckoning cats, the cherry blossoms lining the ceiling, neon Sailor Moon sign, and wood paneled walls and furniture lay into the kawaī and izakaya vibe.
Leaning into the energy of the space, we started with the strawberry sake, which came in the cutest sake glasses. This was one of many options on the sake list that included large bottles and single serve glasses (that you can take home!) as well.
On the food side ramen is king but the wontons shouldn’t be missed. Each bite proved super crunchy with a warm cream cheese filling and sweet dipping sauce. The fried Brussels sprouts were also crispy and did not disappoint. Finally, sticking with the crunchy theme, one favorite dish was the curry chicken bowl. Served with rice, the curry gravy was the perfect amount of salty and savory, and the chicken stayed juicy and crispy in the center.
The veggie fried rice surprised us with a nice pop of green from the scallions. Order it as is, or add on a protein such as chicken or pork chashu. Don’t skip the black garlic ramen either, the base features a rich chicken broth and is topped with pork chashu, crispy garlic chips and a perfect soft-boiled egg.
Also on the veggie side, order the creamy vegan ramen, a bowl laden with a silky broth and enhanced with fried Brussels sprouts, bean sprouts, plant-based “meat” and sesame paste. Aside from ramen, Neko melds Asian cuisines by serving pork bao buns, bang bang shrimp, kimchi and egg rolls.
Overall, this quaint Park Hill ramen shop is good for a quick solo meal, a whimsical date or even a lunch with that ramen-obsessed kid. It’s laid back and fun, but also delicious.
Visit Neko Ramen & Rice at 4030 Colorado Blvd, Denver. It’s open Monday through Thursday from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., and Friday through Sunday from 11 a.m. to midnight. For more information go to nekoramenandrice.com.
Guest article by: Katie Martineau