Winter Special: Ramen Top Picks

Back in the UK you’d associate noodles in soup as a dish you might have when feeling under the weather, and when you do come across a ramen shop the noodles are usually overcooked, sitting in bland and watered down soup. So you’d understand why at first I didn’t get the obsession with ramen, but coming to Hong Kong and one ramen shop in particular really changed it for me. There’s so many out there and you can always spot the ever growing hype around ramen from the mile long queues and fast expansion of chains. Luckily for Hong Kong, we have that advantage of being close enough to Japan that even the ramen masters themselves come out to set up shop, so you’ll see many new as well as existing shops with Japanese staff making it all the more authentic.

Since my ramen epiphany I’ve been trying out different ramen shops at any occasion I get, especially since my other half was the one who made me see the “light” (aka ramen).
It’s also the perfect place if you’re eating alone, or just want a quick and easy meal.

Here’s our top picks in Hong Kong:

Betsutenjin 別天神

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This was my game changer. They have stores located in Causeway Bay, Wan Chai, Tsim Sha Tsui and most recently in Whampoa.
For me, I appreciated their thinner noodles and thicker (non-watered down) broth without the oiliness that you find in bigger chains. Their shops are the bar stool type ramen ‘bars’, usually small and cosy so the ramen is served just over the counter by the person making it. This place doesn’t have the “dim sum” paper where you need to circle your ramen and soup thick/ thin/ firm/ soft/ oiliness/ spiciness preferences (I know some people like to “customise” their ramen but there’s too much to circle – I just want my ramen ASAP)!
There are only 2 choices of ramen both come with 2 slices of pork and nori: one is pork bone soup and the other shrimp. My favourite is the shrimp soup as it has a rich seafood flavour and coats the noodles so well. You can choose to eat the ramen alone, or as a set either with gyoza (pan fried dumplings) or a Japanese style potato salad. I usually opt for ramen alone as one bowl is so filling.

My usual: Shop 3A, G/F, 277 Gloucester Road, Causeway Bay (CWB MTR closest exit D4)
Tsim Sha Tsui: Shop A1, G/F Astoria Building, 24-38 Ashley Road, Tsim Sha Tsui (TST MTR closest exit A1/ Shop 50, G/F, Harbour Crystal Centre, 100 Granville Road, Tsim Sha Tsui (Hung Hom MTR closest exit D1)
Hung Hom: Shop 107, Basement One, Site 5 & 6 Wonderful Worlds of Whampoa, Hung Hom (Whampoa MTR closest exist C1)

Koku Ryu Ramen 黑龍

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This is a more recent discovery whilst exploring the streets of Wan Chai. Located in the quieter street next to the ever more popular redevelopment of Lee Tung Avenue. You’ll easily recognise it from the massive red lantern outside.
This ramen shop offers more choice of ramen, tsukemen as well as rice bowls and the usual gyoza.
My favourite is the pork tsukemen which is a thicker ramen eaten with a very thick and flavoursome broth for dipping the noodles in. The tsukemen includes an egg and roast pork and has a strong dried bonito flavour (which I love!) so if you’re not into that then probably avoid, although I’d encourage trying anything at least once because its so tasty! Usually after finishing the noodles you can help yourself to the flasks of hot soup placed on the counter and combine with your remaining thick broth to drink as a soup.
I have also tried the pork ramen here which is just as delicious although the soup is a lot thicker in consistency than you’d expect, again this helps coat the noodles so you get a nice amount of soup and noodle in one mouthful.

Wan Chai: 29 Swatow St, Wan Chai
North Point: Shop E, G/F, Po Wing Building, 6-16 Shell Street, North Point

Yokozuna 橫綱

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This was recommended by Piotr of Piotr’s Polish Kitchen, from when we dined at his home a couple weeks ago with Plate Culture. It’s definitely one of the better ramen shops in Hong Kong serving up both ramen and tsukemen.
We went late Saturday afternoon at 2pm and still had a 30 minute wait, but fear not there’s plenty of shops nearby to pass the time quickly.
I went for the Tonkotsu and Bonito soup ramen, the noodles and egg were definitely the stand out of the dish and the soup was not too oily or salty. They serve belly pork instead of the usual thin slices of pork found in ramen which was a bit too fatty for my liking, but the meat was very succulent. My husband went for the tsukemen, which was slightly too salty and oily so best stick to the ramen if you’re planning to try out.

Yun Kai Building, 466-472 Nathan Rd, Yau Ma Tei (YMT MTR closest exit C)

Happy slurping!

Vinyee

 

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