After an embarrassingly long absence since my New Year’s post, I’m back to reignite my food series, (does the term series still apply if there was only really one post?). Today’s food interest is RAMEN! To tell the truth, I have had a long and ambivalent relationship with ramen. Eating the instant packets as a child, I thought I was a ramen lover – how different could it be from the delicious Chinese/Vietnamese-style noodle soups that my grandma and mum made? Then I ate in restaurants. First came Wagamama (Leeds), where I was enticed by the photograph of a spicy chicken ramen only to discover the broth was absolutely tasteless and the noodles so-so. I was confused! Perhaps it was just that particular branch? Later, convinced by my friend’s enthusiasm for Wagamama’s ramen, I tried again (Nottingham). Where she seemed to be enjoying her bowl, I was wondering if pouring in half the condiments on the table would make my broth less bland. Writing Wagamama on my list of places never to visit, I left disheartened yet still optimistic on finding an authentic and satisfying bowl of ramen. Fast forward through the years and I have tried ramen in many places, each hit and miss (majorly miss) in terms of taste. Had I fooled myself into thinking I liked this particular food? Even eating ramen in Japan, wasn’t something that made me think I could eat it everyday for the rest of my life.
However, I am the type of person willing to try foods again and again, in case my tastes have changed. For example I never used to liked bubble tea (a Taiwanese drink with tapioca pearls) until recent years when suddenly the sensation of chewy pearls in my drink didn’t seem to bother me anymore. So this week when I suggested going for ramen, my friend was quite sceptical. But actually I was more excited to sit in a solitary booth where your ramen appears from behind a bamboo screen than for the ramen itself. Upon arriving at Ichiran, we were greeted by an enormous queue, but since there was only two of us dining, the wait wasn’t too long! The sheer novelty of having your own personal dining bubble was a dream – apparently they were designed to let the customer fully immerse themselves in the flavours. Speaking of flavours, you can customise the ramen on levels such as garlic, chilli, etc., even adding extra noodles when you’ve finished with the first. Thankfully, the ramen was not a disappointment! It was full of flavour (maybe a little too salty to be very critical), the noodles were a nice texture and it’s definitely a place I’d go back to! Only downside is that it is a bit pricey, 89HKD for a standard bowl, then 10HKD on top as service charge. But otherwise, a place that reaffirmed my ramen love!
Tried and tested:
- Ichiran – Lockhart House, Block A, 440 Jaffe Road, Causeway Bay
- Janya Tomato Ramen – 468 Shanghai Street, Mong Kok