(Caution: non-halal post)
What I loved best about shopping for the Chinese New Year (as I’ve done so often in the past with the family) is finding a kickass restaurant and having a good meal after walking for hours at end.
The catch is this – the event must never be pre-planned in that we would not be intentionally finding a restaurant to actually sit down and eat something while shopping. There are no whiners in our family who want to fill up growling tummies and other vanities (other than the occasional washroom trip for obvious reasons) and we would often complete our essential shopping first before thinking on what to eat.
So there we were, walking out of Uniqlo at the 1Utama old wing and heading to Isetan when my brother had a great idea from out of the blue – something about ramen in some delish pork broth. Pork? Here right smack in the heart of a multicultural shopping centre? No way!
All the same, it was true – there was this advertising board of Isetan which shows some ramen dish of some sort and which costs a hefty RM27 per bowl. I initially thought that it must have been some random food fair which Isetan usually holds every month and that it was just a passing fad but my brother insisted that we head to the 2nd floor.
And there it was – a rather disarmingly charming restaurant situated next to the food court and nestled among the various CNY items on sale. The picture at the front of the restaurant is supposed to represent the likenesses of the master chef, but I didn’t see him that day to make a comparison. We quickly assumed our seats (there was hardly anyone in the restaurant at around 4 p.m.) and looked at the menu.
At first glance, there wasn’t much on offer – except the house specialty of ramen with the famous pork belly slice the size of a palm. It comes in a choice of three different flavouring – ‘shiro’ (onion flavoured oil), ‘kuro’ (special oil combined from fried shallots and garlic) and ‘aka’ (chili oil). There are other side dishes as well but they don’t look too appetizing, so we didn’t bother to order any.
I chose an ajitama tsukumen (RM25) which consist of the ramen, one pork slice and one whole egg with ‘Aka’ flavour instead of the Musashi tsukumen (RM27) which is made up of the ramen, two pork slices but only half an egg. If you’re not sure on the differences between the various choices, just do the simple thing and ask the staff.
A tall glass of iced green tea completes my meal choice.
The chili oil was not spicy at all, and the pork broth is flavourful. The star of the dish is probably the springy ramen which is extremely tasty and goes well with the bamboo shoots and other condiments used. I hardly eat Chinese yellow noodles for the less palatable ‘kansui’ content used. Surprisingly, the ramen appears to contain no such ingredient – the telltale sign being thirstiness after such a meal.
I could not care much for the pork meat itself as it is rather plain with the occasional stub of fat around its outer ring (being the pork belly) and it was also rather too thinly sliced for my liking, but I guess this must be how the Japanese enjoyed their ramen.
Time to time, the chefs preparing the noodles over the counter would shout out something in Japanese which was mildly entertaining to see. Lots of dedication and hard work, I should think – to be able to produce such lovely noodles.
The bill could be rather expensive but it is indeed a worthy expenditure. I’d return again, of course.