The concept may be Japanese and authentically rendered, but details such as pitchers of cold barley tea and garlic presses on every table reveal Umaido’s Korean ownership. This stunningly attractive noodle house is the metro area’s first place to specialize in ramen. Unlike the instant versions cooked in dorm rooms, these thin wheat noodles are fresh and supple, curling at the bottom of large bowls filled with one of three rich broths (basic pork, miso, or spicy) and topped with tender slices of pork belly, sprouts, seaweed, and a soft-boiled egg marinated with soy. The staff is incredibly young and peppy, and the decor is as dramatic and modern as anything found in New York or Los Angeles.

Best of Atlanta 2013: Noodle Shop 
Koreans beat Americans to the current Japanese ramen craze raging in the U.S., as evidenced by this edgy storefront (which looks like a fashion-forward concrete bunker) that opened way back in 2009. Korean-owned Umaido throws out way more options and garnishes than would be traditional in Japan. Beyond the classic tonkotsu (with slices of roast pork and a rich, cloudy broth made by simmering pork bones), the restaurant touts ramen variations submerged in soy milk, seafood and chicken broths, and hot sauce. The food arrives quickly, but the solicitous service encourages you to take your time slurping your hefty bowl of noodles.