Sunday, 11 August 2013

Mia's Review: Kotobuki's Ramen

Just recently, I visited this new Japanese restaurant at ZhongShan Mall near one of my working locations with my colleague, as we were craving for some ramen. :)
The restaurant is extremely quiet for a lunch hour (actually the whole Mall is) with only 4 tables occupied, including ours. A flip through the menu (HERE) was pretty impressive with the relatively large selection of choices, even with Chinese/Korean fusion such as Mabo Tofu and Kimuchi Buta Itame (shallow fried pork with kimchi). I was really tempted to get the Kimuchi Buta Itame set but decided to stick to my original craving of ramen in the end, and ordered their recommended Spicy Ramen (spicy pork bone base ramen). The server asked if we would like to have the chilli served separately, and we just nodded our head without any apprehension of her question. Should I say, thank goodness we did.

 Spicy Ramen, $15. 
And that's the chilli that was served separately on the small dish, which kind of resemble a watery otah paste. I was all about to dump the entire lot of the chilli into my ramen when I suddenly decided to test out the spiciness. Once again, thank goodness I did, because it's ridiculously spicy for a calm orange paste! And so, I became extremely cautious, picking up minute amount of the paste and stirring it into my ramen before tasting the soup, making sure that the spiciness is still within the acceptable level before going for the next bit. The end result of the spicy ramen looked just like a normal tonkotsu ramen, it looked exactly like the picture on the right, no tinge of the spicy redness at all. But I can assure you, it taste just as spicy, or even spicer (because I always dump a lot of tongarashi nanami powder) than any other red hot spicy looking ramen we find elsewhere.

 And this two picture shows you the amount of chilli I've added into my ramen in total. It really wasn't a lot at all!

The ramen itself was kind of mediocre, with a badly done job for the noodles. The noodles still have the very distinctive taste of 'kee', the characteristic put-off taste of the yellow noodles we find in our prawn mee and lor mee etc. My colleague and I immediately made a face upon our first bite, and we immediately did the same thing. Added more chilli. Lucky us, we both decided to opt for the spicy ramen. I'd say the scary spiciness of the chilli covered up the 'kee' taste splendidly. The noodles' texture itself also has a lot of room for improvement, for I find it a little too tough and not Q (chewy) at all. I know some people prefer harder noodles, but not me. I've yet to go for my root canal and I can't chew well, alright?
Within the ramen were two pieces of charsiu, half of a flavoured boiled egg, menma (bamboo shoots), a handful of greens (I think they're spinach), and a generous topping of bean sprouts.
The charsiu was, OMG, friggin tough! I had a hard time battling with it, which left my colleague clearly amused and slightly bemused. I bit into the meat, hard, 3 times. All I've done was to left my distinctive bite marks on the piece of meat. After more biting, tugging, and chopstick twisting moments, I decided to give up and stuffed the entire piece of meat into my mouth for a long chew down. The meat itself was flavourful, slightly salty, which really wasn't too bad.
But oh please, I was expecting charsiu in my ramen, not bakwa!

The menma and flavoured egg was less disappointing, with the surprise find of a few extremely soft and tender pieces of menma in my bowl of ramen. The menma, although not chilly cold like straight out of the refrigerator, wasn't exactly as piping hot as the rest of the ingredient in the bowl either. So, I can't really decide if the chef has dumped the ready cooked menma straight from the fridge and directly into the ramen. Oh well, I hope not. The flavoured egg, although not as well done as Ippudo and Santouka, was still acceptable after the scare of the noodles and the bakwa charsiu. The outermost rim of the yolk has been cooked through to hard boiled standards, but the insides still remain watery crumbly, while the whites was fully cooked through. Not that bad.

Now to another most important aspect of the ramen, the soup base. I've tasted the soup prior to adding the chilli, just for a better gauge of the taste. I would say, it reminds me greatly of the ramen soup I had when I dined at places like Ajisen and Ramen Play. Tasty, yes. But truly good? Hmm, I can only say I merely drank up less than half of the soup and my glass of Calpis wasn't enough to quench my thirst thereafter.

With this as my first dining experience at Kotobuki, I won't say that I'll never visit this place ever again. But the next time I have a ramen craving, I probably won't choose to go there.

Till then,


  1. It seems like the Ramen was below par but i wanted to try the chili paste though :p

    1. maybe i'm a little picky, but yes. the chilli paste is worth trying if you're a sucker for spicy food. :)


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