I think I heard about this event via Twitter, and I was immediately intrigued. I haven’t had ramen (outside of prepackaged broth bought in Fukuoka) since leaving Japan in January…and I’ve been craving it.
The idea was for a one night only affair with two kinds of ramen. (That’s the “pop up” part.) The noodles would be handmade and the space would be in the where the old Duchess once stood. Chael MacDonald and Clayton Kozak did a great job conceiving and running the event.
We arrived just before 6pm, and there was quite a line of people waiting for one of the 32 seats. After about an hour, we finally made it in. Time passed surprisingly quickly. After that point, there was no real line to speak of. The plan for the pop up was to go until they sold out or it became 8pm, whatever came first.
It was simply, but nicely, decorated with paper streamers. We received steaming cups of genmaicha, and ordered a few bowls of the chicken and pork ramen and one bowl of the miso dashi with tuna. Beer was available, too.
The menu is pretty tiny in this picture, but the two offerings were:
Choice 1: dashi miso broth with albacore tuna, egg, mushroom, wakame and nori seaweed $10
Choice 2: chicken broth, pork belly and shoulder, egg, pickled shiitake, napa cabbage, nori $10
The pork belly chicken ramen. The noodles were perfection. Absolute perfection. The broth was deep in flavour but not overly salty, and the additions of pickled mushrooms and negi (green onions) were great. While I enjoyed the chicken, the pork belly itself was a little dry and tough. But that was the only misstep – I was, quite honestly, blown away. Even the egg rivaled those I’ve had in Japan. Boiled in broth, it had a gentle brown exterior and a creamy, just underdone center. Well underdone to some.
I considered it perfect.
The miso dashi broth with tuna was savoury and delicious as well. I was never really a fan of miso ramen, but this might convince me otherwise. (I loved shio, or salt, and tonkotsu, or pork, ramen best) The wakame and nori seaweed were also nice touches. The tuna was all right as well. But I think the group favourite was the chicken pork ramen.
All in all, a fun event and worth the wait and a great way to satisfy a craving. I’m hoping this means there might be a great ramen restaurant in the future for Edmonton… but that might also mean Duchess loses its full time croissant pâtissier and Elm Cafe would lose Mr MacDonald. Sacrifices!