My first day in the beautiful city of Lviv involved walking down a small side-street to find a Borscht restaurant. On the way back I saw a group of people hunched over bowls of what seemed like Ramen, so I had to go have a better look. Sure enough, Noa was newly opened, and serving up Lviv's answer to Ramen. I had to try it.
First off, every country has their own peculiar spin or style of ramen, the Eastern Europeans seemingly love lettuce and other vegetables like broccoli in theirs, which isn't always a success. I ordered the Chashu Ramen, hold the corn (and throw it into a dark dungeon somewhere). I'll start by pointing out that this chashu pork is up there with some of the best i've tried outside Japan. Utterly faultless, texture and flavour just utterly mesmerising. The egg too was perfectly cooked, perfectly prepared and the soy-marinate was not too strong or sweet. The broth itself had some staying power but was a little lacking in deep flavours, but the main culprit were the noodles. Home-made but with the texture of spaghetti thats both al dente and over-cooked at the same time. A bizarre experience.
I went back another day to try the beef one (below) and the broth was better, fattier, deeper but the meat itself was chewy. Everything else was about the same as the Chashu bowl. Still, a medium-good bowl of Ramen trumps a lot of other things in my books.
It's always a gamble trying "ethnic fare" in small, strange places. However, sometimes you get a positive surprise.
Christina had mentioned that there was a small Pho place in a market area on the outskirts of Odesa. Curiosity got the better of me and I summoned an Uber and headed off for the 15 minute ride. The weather was blisteringly hot, but thankfully the restaurant had an indoor area with AC. I ordered a beef pho, and twiddled my thumbs in anticipation.
What arrived at my table was actually pretty darn decent. It tasted better than some Pho i've even had in Vietnam, because the most important part (the broth) was on point. They had a few cultural differences including a hard boiled egg, but i'll let that slip. The beef wasn't exceptional quality, but the price reflected that. Everything else was surprisingly good, and I left with a full stomach and google translate compliments to the two Vietnamese chefs.
I'm not going to go through the usual rant about always wanting to try Ramen wherever I am. I spent an obscene amount of time at the immigration office getting my papers in order after my journey through Transnistria. Popped into a pub for a few beers to calm down afterwards and then ploughed through the rain to Kotobuki to try their ramen which came highly recommended.
The broth was pretty fair. The noodles were crap instant noodle pack ones so that was a let down. The egg was overcooked and not marinated, BUT the pork was some of the most tender pork I have eaten. Really superb. That bumped the ratings up by a full point due to its perfect melting deliciousness.
Never discount the fact that ex-pats live all over the world and some of them are passionate about food, so it's always worth trying out.