By Marina Campoy-LoVasco (’23)
It just so happens that of the countless times I have gone to Ima, it’s always been raining. If nothing else, both of Ima’s locations (in Madison Heights and Midtown) have such a welcoming and well curated atmosphere that makes it the first place you want to go when it starts to drizzle outside. What’s better on a rainy day than a big warm bowl of ramen anyways?!
The dishes you are served at Ima are not traditional Japanese food. They are instead Midwestern ingredients approached through the lens of Japanese meals. There’s also a touch of French influence thanks to chef and owner Michael Ransom’s French culinary training at Kendall College.
I have enjoyed meals in both locations, but I recommend for your first taste of Ima to go to the place where it all started in Midtown. In terms of what to get, go with the ramen. As someone who has made the mistake of choosing the less popular items on the menu thinking I might find a hidden gem, I want to prevent you from following in my footsteps. Ima is well known for its noodles: ramen and udon. Make your selection from that part of the menu, and when you’re served with a steaming broth filled with QQ noodles with a gentle spice that coats the back of your throat, you’ll thank me.
Unfortunately, the last time I went to Ima in Madison Heights, I didn’t take my own advice and got the Unagi Don. By themselves, each ingredient in the unagi don has great flavor, but the way they were served did not lend themselves to a great development of flavor. Yes, aesthetically the bowl was stunning, each colorful ingredient contrasted against the white rice. The thing was, each ingredient was served in too large of pieces and some in far too great a quantity (I love ginger, but its use is more of a palate cleanser because it is such a dominant flavor). It needed a flavor that could connect each ingredient. I might have added some seaweed: it would have added some saltiness and if cut up small, would appear in every bite. I would also have added more eel sauce, because eventually you only eat plain rice if there is not enough. Overall, the dish had good intentions, it just didn’t follow through with them.
Overall, I’d give Ima 3.5/5 stars. A restaurant where everything on the menu is fabulous is hard to come by, but Ima definitely has some soul-warming plates for rainy days.