In our November 2015 issue, we examined the rise of ramen in our city, and speculated whether it would reign victorious over pho. With countless ramen spots opening up over the past year, the Japanese staple is officially here to stay – so we tried out a few spots to help you find the best bowl of ramen. Whether you prefer a veggie-packed option or want as many types of pork as possible, you’ll find a new favourite amongst these four.
at Kazoku Ramen
Before your hefty bowl of ramen arrives, you’re given a bowl of sesame seeds – and a pestle. You take the pestle and smash those seeds into a fine powder, which you can deposit in the broth once it arrives. So, Kazoku offers a great lunchtime stress release. Had a bad morning at the office? Die, sesame seed, die!
The tonkotsu (creamy pork bone) broth is remarkable. It is thick and rich, with a texture you won’t find in other ramen bowls in the city. Deeply smoky in flavour, it isn’t subtle. The soup is filled with pickled eggs, generous portions of pork belly, corn, candy-colour swirls of naruto – a combination of egg white and white fish that look like confections – and yellow curls of ramen that make for one substantial meal. Good thing you worked up that appetite by smashing all those pesky sesame seeds. –Steven Sandor
16518 100 Ave., 780-483-0448, kazokuramen.ca
Create Your Own Nudoru
At Nudoru, vegetarians (and meat-eaters) can feed on the create-your-own-ramen option. This route lets you select a broth flavour, a protein and up to three toppings. I opted for the miso broth, no protein, nori (dried seaweed), menma bamboo shoot and a soft-boiled egg. This combination was toothsome; the miso broth was ultra-creamy, almost buttery in taste, which got creamier as the soft boiled egg unleashed its yolky insides into the bowl. The menma bamboo shoot, soft and chewy in texture, had a neutral taste to it, but that was saved by the bamboo’s absorption of the broth. And, the ramen noodles, which are made in- house from scratch, had a springy bite to them. – Jasmine Salazar
10532 82 Ave., 780-757-6836, nudoru.ca
Chicken Noukou Ramen
at Prairie Noodle Shop
When you think of ramen, chances are you imagine a bowl filled with rich pork belly or pork shoulder (or, ideally, both) as the starring protein. While Prairie Noodle does have two delectable pork-based options on the menu, its newest addition showcases a different protein – chicken.
The flavorful shoyu broth is paired with sesame grilled chicken thigh as well as pieces of shredded chicken breast, and the pickled daikon scattered throughout the noodles adds a burst of tartness every few bites. And, while the umeboshi egg is a selling feature in the pork-based soups, the slow-poached egg is equally intoxicating. The yolk is ready to dissolve with the slightest poke of your chopstick, and it makes the already rich dish even more creamy and indulgent.
If you’re a ramen aficionado who can’t imagine a bowl that doesn’t contain pork in some form, give this one a try – it just might make you fall in love with chicken again.-Adrianna Szenthe
10350 124 St., 780-705-1777, prairienoodleshop.ca
at Noodle Bar by Nomiya
Unless it’s a cool, rainy day, hot soup is hardly a summer meal you’re likely to crave. But, sometimes (especially for ramen lovers), the need for that umami flavour strikes – no matter the temperature. This is where a good Tsuke Mein (Noodle Bar’s version of a dipping ramen) comes in.
Imagine it as a deconstructed ramen. In one bowl, you have ingredients that your ramen-loving heart desires – noodles, egg, and pork, paired with lighter fare such as kim-chi, sliced cucumber and shaved green onion – served cold.
In another, slightly smaller bowl you receive your steamy, succulent pork broth. The broth itself is just a tad off from a regular tonkatsu broth, with a hint of spiciness and added peanut, but it’s thick and hot and fatty as expected.
With your two bowls in hand, you discover what makes this dish perfect for summer as you take your ingredients and dip them into your broth. The temperature control is in your hands. By the time the dipped noodles or pork hit your mouth, they are properly cooled, ensuring you don’t overheat in the summer sun. –Cory Haller
11238 104 Ave., 780-250-2600, nomiyarestaurant.com