Sora Japanese Cuisine (Detroit International Airport)

A continuing mission of mine here at Offbeat Eats is trying to help fellow travelers find good places to eat. As I’ve commented many times before, airport food is generally a dismal experience, and with a few rare exceptions (notable airports I’ve found that have multiple good options for food include Heathrow and San Francisco, for example), airport dining is best avoided, and if you find yourself needing a meal, you often pay through the nose for it.

One particularly pleasant exception to this, however, lies in Detroit’s International Airport. Detroit is often the butt of jokes, and it often has earned that status, but for a city of its status, Detroit actually has a rather nice airport, particularly in their main McNamara terminal (home of the particularly cool colorful tunnel between concourses, which you can see here). There are a lot of restaurants here, of varying quality, but one thing stands out: primarily due to the large number of Japanese passengers passing through the airport, it sports multiple Japanese restaurants. One of these, Sora Japanese Cuisine and Sushi Bar, is one of my rare examples of “Good airport food”.

One of the nice things I like about Sora is that while they are centrally located in the terminal (they are one moving walkway away from the central area with the fountain), they maintain a fairly nice and quiet dining room, so they actually give you a nice place to get out of the hustle and bustle of the airport and enjoy your meal. And they’ve got a reasonably good menu; on several previous trips I’ve had the sushi, and it’s quite fresh and nicely done (although I’m always amazed how I can’t reliably bring a nail clipper through security, but this place has at least a dozen razor-sharp sushi knives just lying about). But they’ve also got a good kitchen menu, and this time, I was craving ramen.

Indeed, they’ve got several types of ramen on the menu (including a particularly nice gyoza ramen with some quite tasty dumplings served up in it), but this time I decided to stick with the classic tonkotsu ramen. And only a few minutes after ordering, was starting at a nice large bowl filled with noodles, tasty pork broth, pork, seaweed, and an egg. This was good ramen. The noodles, which should always be the star of the show, are good: slightly firm and toothy, and tasting of wheat without tasting doughy, these were good noodles. The broth is also a nice, rice, and very porky broth, a nice companion to the the half-dozen slabs of seasoned pork in my soup. About my only disappointment? I like the eggs in my ramen to be just barely past soft-boil stage, and this one was boiled hard. I decided to pass on it (maybe next time I can ask if they can do a custom egg for me). All in all, not a bad bowl of ramen for $11.95.

Overall, I’m happy with Sora. If they were anyplace but an airport, they’d be a good but not great place to grab a bowl of ramen or some sushi (for my metro-Detroit readers, if you are craving ramen, go check out the most excellent Matsu Chan hiding in a strip mall over in Canton). But for an airport, they provide not just some good food and a comfortable dining room, but do so at a reasonable price as well.

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