With the closing of the Japanese restaurant, Wasabee Sushi, last spring, it felt as though downtown Bellingham had been hit with a huge loss. Thankfully, Muto Ramen and Izakaya moved into Wasabee’s previous location on East Chestnut Street not long after it closed. The authentic Japanese restaurant caters to many of the same tastes as Wasabee, but with a stronger emphasis on ramen.
Previous customers of Wasabee will notice that Muto has created a slightly more casual environment. The space has been opened up and much of the decor has been removed, giving it a more hip and young atmosphere. Even with the minor changes, the restaurant remains a good spot for a classy first date, without a high price tag and with plenty of options.
As for the menu, guests will find pages of variety that go beyond ramen and sushi. There are crowd-pleasers like chicken teriyaki and katsu, udon noodles and yakitori (Japanese skewers), along with long lists of different ramen, sushi rolls, sashimi, and nigiri. For those looking to dip their toes into the land of raw fish, Muto has plenty of “beginner friendly” sushi rolls. Try the crunchy salmon roll to start. The large roll is full of shrimp tempura, crab salad and cream cheese and is topped with salmon. From a taste and cost standpoint, you’ll barely know the raw fish is there — cost is just $14.50. Guests can also choose from four different deep-fried rolls ranging from $8.95 to $15.50 each, with five to eight pieces. For those more adventurous, the menu offers numerous options for nigiri and sashimi pieces like tuna, salmon, yellowtail, and eel.
After a refreshing piece of fatty tuna, save room for a heaping serving of ramen. Each dish is served in a deep bowl with enough noodles for two. Choose from classic ramen with chicken, pork, beef or vegetables or tonkotsu ramen, which is made with pork bone broth. Most bowls run from about $9 to $15. The beef curry ramen has a flavorful broth and is topped with a boiled egg and green onions. The beef is unfortunately sparse with only a handful of pieces in the entire bowl. With plenty of noodles, the dish fills you up regardless. Like with most ramen, it is a good idea to have a full beverage nearby to counter the salty broth. Overall, Muto Ramen and Izakaya does not disappoint for those looking for both atmosphere and flavor at a reasonable price. Guests can look forward to many visits to explore the wide selection of Japanese dishes.