Kanada-Ya Ramen Bar: GEKIKARA RAMEN

Place: Kanada-Ya

Location: 64 Saint Giles High Street, London, England, WC2H 8LE

Website: https://www.kanada-ya.com/home/

Ramen: Gekikara Ramen

Description: 18-hour pork bone broth, spicy tan tan style minced pork, chashu belly, bean sprouts, kikurage, negi and an egg.

Price: £12.00

REVIEW: Long line worth the wait! Wow! Big flavors, smooth broth, the egg was exceptional. Extra spicy miso to add the heat! It was so good, this was honestly the longest I’ve taken to eat Ramen! Love in a bowl! 

Score: rating_5

Gekikara Ramen

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Katana-Ya: KATANA-YA RAMEN

Its been years since I’ve been to the classic Katana-Ya Ramen shop near Union Square in San Francisco. When I first arrived in SF, it was considered one of the best in the city by loads of folks and always sported a line up (must be that killer location). These days, there are a lot more ramen options around the Bay Area so with a return visit, does this “original gangster” hold up? Let’s see.

I arrived after 1pm on a workday thus missing the lunch rush so my co-worker and I were immediately seated in this small shop with about 20 seats total (usually at peak times there is a 15-30 minute wait). As it has been a few years and I usually ordered the Spicy Miso, I opted to try something different and go for the House Special Katana-Ya Ramen. This is  the “kitchen sink” of ramen which includes Chicken Karrage, Potstickers, BBQ Pork, Corn, Scallions, Seaweed and an egg. Now at Katana-Ya you can choose your both base of Salt, Miso or Soy (I opted for Miso), the Density of light, regular or rich (I chose regular) and of course the spice level of  little, medium or extra (extra was the way).

The bowl that arrived was somewhat comically large and filled with bits of meat, veggies and gyoza as well as noodles and broth, it was large and honestly looked like a treasure trove of flavors! I enjoyed the gyoza and chicken that were included but found that the Karrage coating got soggy and there were so many competing flavors, the overall bowl lost its way. I would go back and order another ramen at Katana-Ya for sure as their broth is delicious, the veggies fresh, the chashu solid and the noodles tasty but add all those other goodies included in the Katana-Ya Ramen and too much can honestly be a bad thing.

I didn’t hate it but I thought that all those flavors started canceling each other out and the specialness of the Katana-Ya Ramen was diminished. That said, Katana-Ya still delivers a decent bowl of ramen but to me, its got a lot of competition out there that are doing things better.

Spicy Miso Ramen

Dish: Katana-Ya Ramen (Miso, Regular, Extra Spicy)
Location: Katana-Ya
Address: 430 Geary Street, San Francisco, CA, 94102
Price $14.30
Rating: rating_3

Website: http://www.katanayausa.com/

HIDA TAKAYAMA: Shio Ramen (Vancouver)

While San Francisco is living the ramen dream with multiple options strong and weak to choose from, my hometown of Vancouver, BC is still in the early stages of a full Ramen Invasion. There are a few choices but not a lot and as proof a recent “Best Ramen in Vancouver” article listed only four options as “the best”, not even a Top 5 list. But in my research for where to get a bowl while visiting over the Christmas, every article had Hida Takayama on their list in one of the top positions. This place is clearly considered one of the best in the city. Upon further reading, it’s clear that this is one of the only joints in town that makes its noodles in-house, apparently a rarity in Vancouver. Well count me in, I want to try some in-house noodles!!!

Hidden in upper corner of the Robson Public Market, located in the “west end” of Downtown Vancouver, I was a little surprised to find that Hida Takayama was actually an outlet in a food court but it was the only outlet that had a line and that’s usually a good sign. I went for the Shio Ramen which describes itself as the “ramen to try that proves the chef’s skills and technique”, wow, bold claims son! Lets see what we get!!!

I was shocked at the large bowl that was presented and even more shocked at the steak-sized pieces of pork chashu within the bowl. The chashu was quite unwieldy and awkward but it sure tasted good. Otherwise, the bowl was quite barren, a piece of Nori, some bamboo and a smattering of green onions. No egg though… NO EGG… it wasn’t even an option to order on the side. Tough as I do love my egg in my ramen. I bet with the broth, I wouldn’t even need the egg! Alas, I would have lost that bet.

The broth was very delicate and uncomplicated but lacking in complexity and depth. The flavor did not linger on the palette, it was extremely light missing the richness and full flavor that a pork-based ramen traditionally delivers. Without the egg or spice or corn, it was substantially lacking. The chef said that this would prove their skill and technique, well if the goal was to create a minimally flavored broth, they succeeded. I don’t need to have a bold broth with every meal but I expect my palette to be taken on a journey, here, the journey never got going. On a plus side, the in-house noodles were enjoyable, I just wish I had a more robust flavored broth to enjoy them in.

Now, Hida Takayama offers a White Sesame Ramen, a Spicy Ramen and other unique options so I cannot denounce the establishment as a whole but I was quite disappointed with my bowl of Shio Ramen. The delicately light broth, the lack of egg, monster hunks of pork and little else… I was not the biggest fan of this ramen! I think I would try another ramen place in Vancouver before venturing back to Hida despite the other ramen options available, I really wanted to enjoy my bowl but I was left wanting a lot more.

Hida Takayama

Dish: Shio Ramen
Location: Hida Takayama Ramen
Address: 2nd Floor, Robson Public Market, Vancouver
Price $9.99

Rating: rating_2

Website: http://hidatakayamaramen.com/