Lindsey Shaw Special to the Jewish News
It’s pronounced “Ema,” like “mom” in Hebrew.
Situated on Michigan Avenue in Detroit’s Corktown neighborhood, you will find the little gem of a modern-style Japanese noodle bar called Ima. Casual in its demeanor and unassuming in its exterior appearance, you may accidently drive by it the first time you go. Keep an eye out for the sign adhered to the building at the corner of Michigan Avenue and Vermont Street.
It’s one of those chef-driven restaurants with a boatload of soul and flavor stuffed into a 900-square-foot space. Chef Mike Ransom puts a creative spin on signature udon noodle soups, rice bowls, curries and small plates. His recipes are foolproof and provide the consistency of your favorite new neighborhood joint.
The menu is friendly to the spicy friends, vegetarian or vegan friends, and even the gluten-free friends. The menu is divided by sections such as Snack + Share, Noodles, Rices and Add-Ons. If you are a picky person, you could have a heyday of a meal just by choosing several add-on options.
Let’s get straight down to it — the must-haves include the Jicama shell [Ima] tacos and Lobster Udon and Golden Curry with Tofu. Inside the Ima tacos your lips will be graced with wakame slaw, green chili hot sauce, toasted corn, shiso and the added protein of your choosing (spicy shrimp, roasted tofu, garlic chicken, smoked pork loin or avocado). Even the obligatory green salad is elevated and is known as “goddess greens,” aka baby romaine, radish, jicama, avocado, furikake, with miso goddess dressing.
The noodle dishes will have you slurping for joy! The silky savory broths are made overnight for 12-14 hours. You can literally sense all the good vibes and energy that were put into making them.
The golden curry dish makes you go mmmm at first bite as the silky warm curry delights you from the outside in. The golden curry dish is bright and colorful with in-house pickled and root vegetables surrounding your protein of choice atop a mountain of steamed rice with nori and hemp seeds.
Don’t be disappointed that the boombap does not have a hot stone bowl beneath it — it will be delicious!
Whether you are first or last to order, you can guarantee the flavors and quality will remain. There is street parking available on Michigan Avenue. Ima is a wallet-friendly restaurant where you don’t have to sacrifice a high price for a highbrow flavor. It’s open daily: Monday through Thursday 11 a.m.-10 p.m.; Friday and Saturday 11-11; and Sunday noon to 10.
It’s a walk-in style restaurant, but you can make reservations for parties of six or more. Get ready to make new friends because this spot hosts communal tables supported by industrial chic chairs as well as window seating with high-top bar seats. I would recommend going with a small group of people. The popular restaurant is busting at the seams with customers since the day it opened in 2007.
Recently Chef Ransom announced he will be opening a second location in Madison Heights. Go get out of the house and get yourself a bowl of noodles at Ima!
Ima Noodle Bar
2015 Michigan Ave., Detroit