(Don Mueng Terminal 2)
Airport food is usually a ramshackle event. A conscious choice to get a cheeky McDs or BK, or a microwaved burger sold in a "Irish Pub" called Flanagans or Molly's. Either way, its a tie-over until the grave disappointment of in-flight food comes rolling your way.
At Don Muang Airport, they opened a branch of Ippudo in Terminal 2. Not my favourite place to eat ramen, generally, but a far better option than the golden arches at midday with a slight groggy feeling resonating deep inside.
It looks like this place hasn't been here long since the staff were in complete disarray, beside the fact that there were only 3 customers and 9 staff members. I ordered, the food came, they had "run out" of eggs already at lunch-time. Not a great sign.
What followed was a fairly ok attempt, for being an airport. The broth was so-so, the noodles were boring, the pork was sufficiently tender and they added beansprouts which I loved. Nothing to write home about, but better than popping next door to the countless fast food options.
(3/2 Sukhumvit Rd, Khwaeng Khlong Tan Nuea)
The holy grail for Shoyu Ramen in Bangkok has surely been found? Upon publishing my review of Uma Uma, one of the managers kindly wrote to thank me for my review, but also suggested if I wanted a great Shoyu Ramen, to head to his personal favourite. Since it was just around the corner from Studio Lam, and a 15 minute walk from my hotel, I simply had to try it today for lunch.
The spot is a small, cosy ramen shop with counter space up front and seating in the back for families and bigger groups. I hid on the corner part and ordered their speciality Shoyu with extra pork. The menu described it as the stock being a mix of vegetables, chicken and pork bones, and bonito (which can polarise some people due to its "fishy taste") so I already had in mind what it would taste like. However, this was flavour +
Dark, umami-packed broth, absolutely sensational pork (some of the best I've ever eaten), and a well cooked egg along with the slight difference of Soba Noodles instead of "regular" ramen noodles. The soba were cooked to perfection, the chew was excellent and the overall texture was spot on.
I was dying to find a good Shoyu place in town since its not every day you feel like eating a calorie-laden bowl of Tonkotsu, so I am forever grateful to the Uma Uma person for tipping me off about this. In the years to come this will feature heavily on my Bangkok agenda.
(39/1 Sukumvit 23, Klongtoey Nua)
Seriously? Third day in a row?
Yes. I have just spent 5 months in Norway where I have not been able to find a decent bowl of ramen, so coming to the land of Thai food it sound incredulous to spend my first few days gorging on ramen, but I am an addict.... and I am not ashamed to say it. Besides, I already had a couple of great Thai meals and will be here another month so there is plenty of time.
Now onto the ramen. Uma Uma, never been before, took a cab, ordered, waited patiently in the hopes that this could be the next best thing... it ALMOST was.
Noodles were of the ultra-thin type which is not my personal fave, but still had some bite to them. The broth was deep, rich, not too fatty, perfectly balanced, the Chashu was up there with some of the best ever: MELT-ON-YOUR-TONGUE tender, full of flavour, absolutely incredible. Egg was cooked a few seconds the wrong side of perfect, but made up for it in leaps and bounds with the marinade, a deep smokey soy flavour. I also love when anyone puts bean sprouts on as garnish, adding that crunchy element. All in all this doesn't topple Bankara or Kio but sits strongly in third place. A crowning achievement and proof that you should always try new places.
(271 Thong Lo 13 Alley, Khwaeng Khlong Tan Nuea)
With jet-lag still punishingly strangling the life out of me, I awoke at 01.00 am, fell back asleep at 7am, got up at 1pm and decided I deserved a good bowl of Ramen.
Ikkousha was a short cab ride from my hotel, and had very favourable reviews online. The fact that the broth looked good in photos also helped, as that can very often be a litmus test in such cases.
The service was quite slow, but friendly. The prices were reasonable. Ramen arrived with a glass of soda water, and I dove in (taking photos beforehand of course). The broth was solid, slightly more fatty that Kio but not as rich as Bankara, the egg was cooked well but not marinated so it was a little boring, the noodles were regular ramen noodles and cooked well, the pork flavourful but lacking a bit in the tenderness department. All things considered a very decent bowl, but not pushing for the top 3 spot yet in Bangkok.
(70/2 Soi Ekkamai)
The best Khao Soi I ever had was in a now demolished hotel in Chiang Mai back in 2003. Memories of that bowl always flood back to me whenever I take a chance on a new spot, and invariably I am left comparing what was to what could be. Coincidentally, last night I was chatting with 2 chefs in a bar and both of them highly recommended Hom Duan saying they eat there twice a week religiously. I grabbed a cab, headed to Ekkamai, found the spot, noticed only 1 foreigner in there and a packed restaurant full of locals slurping down big bowls of hot soup. Ordered at the counter, within 3 minutes my Khao Soi arrived with the regular mustard greens, lime slice and shallots on a small side-plate.
I dug in.
The broth became more and more complex the further down you got, a characteristic I prefer since you don't get tired of it as easily as super rich flavours. I read a few online reviews and one mentioned that the cumin content here was a tad higher than normal places. I can't say I would have noticed that without the words ringing in my brain, but I did think it was a touch too much. However, this hardly took anything away from what was a great bowl of Khao Soi, and priced at 90 baht with a coke you could hardly complain.
I'll be back here if i'm in the Ekkamai area again.
(1095 Sukhumvit Rd, Khlong Tan Nuea)
Opting for the most local place suffering from intense jet-lag and a nagging cold from Oslo, this place was 300 meters from my hotel and the reviews were promising.
I got a slight feeling of apprehension upon seeing it was a street stall with seating inside a shopfront because in Thailand that works for local food, but i've never eaten Ramen at a place like that. Buoyed by my excitement at being back in the big city, and serious withdrawal symptoms, I headed on in and ordered the special.
The service was polite and fast. The food, massively underwhelming. The noodles had a nice chew to them, the egg was acceptable, the chicken pretty tasty, but what let this down was the broth. It was so thick and rich that it felt like you were eating Christmas gravy that had been reduced far too long. It created a gluey sensation on the palate and left me feeling a bit queasy. Needless to say, I didn't finish it.
At 140 Bhat it's definitely not on the expensive side, but when eating ramen in Bangkok its worth spending a bit more and getting a lot more quality.