On my last trip to Hong Kong I almost ate at Toast Box because it was highly recommended by some locals for their Laksa. Having spent an enormous amount of time over the years in Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia I am a massive fan of a well prepared Laksa.
After the arduous check-in process, made even worse by the fact that their meaning of "Bag-drop" is to line up with all the other 400 people who haven't checked in online anyway, rendering the entire process futile. Lets just say by the time I had gotten through security I was hangry, and quite shocked to see Toast Box in the departure area. I lined up, ordered my laksa, waited 5 minutes and hurried to a seat in the furthest corner of the room. Tragedy. Utter tragedy.
First off: I think tofu is one of the most intensely disgusting foods on earth. It serves absolutely no purpose. It tastes exactly like wet cardboard and nobody can argue with me on that.
Second: The prawns were dry and cold and overcooked.
Thirdly: The broth was powdery and grainy and had basically no flavour.
Fourth: The noodles were overcooked.
This was exactly how NOT TO COOK a laksa, and they were doing it at the airport in MALAYSIA? Wonders never cease. I struggled through enough tastes to decide that it was not worth pursuing even tho the hunger pangs were aching. I pushed the bowl away and dejectedly looked for a bar instead.
(318 Rama I Rd, Khwaeng Pathum Wan, Khet Pathum Wan)
Just when you thought you had nailed the 3 best ramens in Bangkok, Ramen Kio comes in and sweeps the rug from under your feet. First taste, hmmm... decent, second taste, better.. third taste AHHHHH.. This is not the usual fatty Tonkotsu that lines your mouth with glistening fat on the first sip and leaves you reaching for a toilet or bottle of liquor. This is the slow burn, the creeper. Just when you thought you understood its depths it opens up more and slaps you in the face. This is Tonkotsu without all the faffing around. The eggs are divine, could not be better. The pork was sublime, tender as hell and melted before you even applied pressure. The noodles (medium or thin option) were solid, and the broth itself was a gift that kept giving.
By far better than every single ramen place in Bangkok, except Bankara... but its a close battle. They are definitely the 2 best places in Bangkok as of now.
Ramen Danbo (a8/12a Thái Văn Lung, Bến Nghé)
My last experience with Ramen Danbo was patiently waiting in line in Naha, Okinawa while 30 or more Chinese tourists stood in front of me all vying for a spot at the counter. I managed to get in after about 20 minutes and sat as far away from other humans as possible. Ramen is alone time. Ramen is not the chance to make new friends. Ramen has to be studied and enjoyed and savoured without the folly of conversation. If in doubt, just watch Tampopo, and pay close attention to the scene when the old man is teaching the young man about eating Ramen. This is gospel. This is why I named a pop-up ramen place in Oslo after the film.
The bowl arrived steaming hot. Everything was perfect. It tasted identical to the one in Japan. This time I was with some friends, but the enjoyment was still true. The noodles were firm, the broth deep, unctuous and rich, the pork thin and succulent, the egg cooked to perfection.
No negatives to say about my second time at Danbo. It may be in a different country, but they are keeping their standards sky-high.