For as long as I can remember, ramen has been nothing more to me than water-flavoured soup. With noodles. That costs too much. Because it’s water and noodles. But I’m off to Japan next month, which, among many amazing things, happens to be the home of ramen. So here’s the deal: to make the most of the trip, it’s only appropriate I prepare my palate accordingly – and that’s why I took up an invite to try out the menu at the new branch of Kanada-Ya on Panton Street.
This popular ramen bar specialises in “tonkotsu” ramen, which is the Beyoncé of soup broths, where pork marrow bones have been simmered for hours until you’re left with something rich and tasty – like Bey really. The Japanese and ramen-lovers can’t get enough of the stuff and on the evening we popped in, business is booming.
Accompanied by my buddy (who also finds ramen a bit so-so), it took us a moment to get our heads around how they do ramen here. Ordering the kale and chicken kaarage (fried chicken) was simple enough, and they both tasted great. But getting into the main attraction involved figuring out how we wanted our noodles first – extra firm, firm, regular or soft? – then deciding whether we wanted the original ramen or a fancier version, the chashu-men which comes with pork collar (which is what, exactly? We didn’t know…). And then, working out if we wanted any toppings, like charred black garlic sauce or spicy red miso paste.
Bearing in mind that my only flavour reference is water, we decided to go all out. The chashu-men topped with the miso paste and garlic sauce – everything that would ensure that this meal wouldn’t pass for H20. And you know, the plan worked. While I can’t say I slurped the rest of the broth once the noodles were done, I can say I liked it, and it was much better than I imagined.
Have you been to Kanada-Ya? Are you a fan of tonkotsu ramen? Let me know in the comments…