Musings of a bon vivant in Hong Kong


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Rockin’ Ramen at Kanada-ya

I keep meaning to write up my thoughts on a few ramen joints about town, but these places have been springing up like some sort of noodle infestation and I just kind of gave up. In short, Ramen Jo in Causeway Bay is my usual go-to, I loooove that place and I am also partial to a bowl of Ippudo ramen.

So when I was invited with a group of ramen-chasers to the opening of Kanada-ya in Causeway Bay for a Foodie Club event, my first thought was, ‘Another one?!’ This was swiftly replaced by,’Ooohhh ramen!’ (So easily distracted)

Kanaday-ya was first opened in Yukuhashi in Fukuoka, Japan, by renowned Chef Kanada Kazuhiro and now we get to taste his award-winning tonkotsu ramen in Hong Kong. Like most ramen places, the space is small and cosy and the focus is all on that steaming bowl of delicious pork broth and swirling noodles.Kanada-ya

As much as I enjoy lots of options on a menu, it is a relief to only be given three choices here: classic, lite and supreme. The pork broth takes 15 hours of boiling and toiling to make it into the smooth, creamy consistency that it is and they use a funky piece of equipment that is calibrated so they can achieve a concentration of 10 out of something. I have no clue. All I know is that the broth was thick but not dense and so full of flavour that really you could add any old noodle and all sorts of ingredients to it and it would still be delicious. The classic bowl ($78) is topped with three slices of pork belly, the lite ($85) gets the pork belly but is finished off with tonnes of beansprouts (cos you know, these veggies make this ramen very light and healthy) and the supreme ($98) is topped with slices of pork shoulder instead.

Handy little info sheet

Handy little info sheet

Care is clearly taken over all the ingredients, with the flour flown in from Japan before the noodles are made in HK and the pork is cooked for 2-4 hours after an 8-10 hour marination process. We were all given a bowl of the classic, with the option to add an extra soft boiled egg- yes please, or spring onions. You are also asked to choose your noodle texture from soft to hard.

Serious ramen magic

Serious ramen magic

Kanada-ya

I loved my bowl of ramen, positively salivated at the sight of it and breathed in the gorgeous broth fumes. The pork belly was tender but it was the egg that we were really wowed by. I have no idea how they did it, but the egg was perfection. The yolk was beautiful and the egg had a lovely sweetness to it. Top marks. As extra, we were able to try some of their pork shoulder slices which normally belongs to the supreme bowl. This was very rich and fatty and frankly too much for my tastes, but when soaked in the broth it was rather heavenly. But I think I will stick to the classic.

Classic ramen

Classic ramen

Amazing egg

Amazing egg

Pork shoulder hand model- thanks D! :)

Pork shoulder hand model- thanks D! 🙂

If it seems there aren’t enough noodles to fill you up, don’t worry, you can always order more. We were told at the event that soggy noodles are a big no no, so the bowls aren’t filled to the brim with noodles. Just leave behind enough broth for extra carbs if you so need.

So Kanada-ya was quite the hit the night we went and I definitely see myself going back there on a regular basis. For a satisfying meal under $100, it joins the ranks of Ramen Jo and Ippudo for my quick, lip-smacking ramen fix.

Chopstixfix rating: 4/5

 

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Kanada-ya, G/F, 34 Tang Lung Street, Causeway Bay, 2889 3355

This was by kind invite- thank you Foodie!

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Posh noodles anyone?

One of the more interesting and new recipients of a Michelin star this year is MIST, a swanky and elegant ramen restaurant in Causeway Bay. MIST first came onto the scene early last year, but I’ve only been hearing the buzz about it in the last couple of months when friends began talking of a ‘posh noodle place’.“What does that mean?!” I thought to myself, but now I understand that the concept is Japanese rahmen (as they spell it) Fine Dining. Many people, including myself, might be dubious about this- how fine can a bowl of noodles get?

The interior is simple, yet plush. A wall of glass facing the outside world gives the small establishment the much needed illusion of space and gives it a very modern feel. The bar area is contemporary and offsets the rather luxurious red leather bound chairs in the main dining section. Originally, my girlfriends and I were sitting by the window, but for some reason it was really breezy and cold, and when we mentioned this, the staff were attentive and extremely accommodating, allowing us to move to an inside table for warmth!One thing that us girls loved were the secret drawers hiding beneath the table containing eating utensils for each diner and a information sheet on the background and preparation of the MIST rahmen. It was very much like a cha chaan teng (but a more upscale version of course). A ridiculous but cool thing to point out is the smoothness of the chopsticks! The first comment we made when we took out our chopsticks was, “Oooh so smooth!” Not that this has anything to do with how one rates a restaurant, but it was rather impressive.Back to food, and the sheet of paper in the drawer told us that the noodles are made from a mixture of flours from Shinshu, Tohoku and Hokkaido and that the soup results from a ten hour cooking process, contains over 25 ingredients and is kept at a temperature between 78 and 82 degrees Celsius. Very informative, but also raises one’s expectations.

The menu offers only 5 different types of soup base to accompany the 1 type of rahmen. Each bowl comes with a slice of pork ($120) and you have to pay extra for any additional pieces of BBQ pork, an egg or seaweed. When we went, they had a seasonal soup base- Tonkatsu, which is what I went for. They had unfortunately run out of egg at the time (I was disappointed). 2 of my friends opted for the Karomiso (a spicy miso soup) and my other friend asked for the Ume shio plum soup with BBQ pork. We also ordered the Hokkaido scallop salad to start.

If you wish to, you can have the dinner set for $380 which includes a salad and another dish of their choice to start, a bowl of rahmen of your choice and a dessert. If you’re a beer drinker, they recommended the Nipponia Hitachino nest beer to us, which was yummy and smooth (though I’m no expert!).

The salad was good, nothing spectacular but the scallops were excellently prepared. There wasn’t nearly enough of it though, but it just about fed the 4 of us so that we all had a taste and 2 scallops each.The pièce de résistance was a lot less arresting to look at that I had imagined- just a regular bowl of noodles. But, the soup base was truly scrumptious, fantastic explosion of flavours and not too salty (something that most noodle soups fall victim to in other places). I slurped a bit of the Karomiso soup- delicious! Going for that one next time. The noodles themselves were decent, I’m not used to eating such finely prepared rahmen and my friends were not overly enthusiastic, preferring the normal thicker and chewy types elsewhere, but overall, the soup base more than made up for it.For dessert, we ended with two slices of banana chocolate cake, which is provided by Awfully Chocolate- sinfully indulgent.So, does it deserve its Michelin star? I’m not so sure; the soup base is wonderful, but at $120, is it enough or worthy of this accolade? I’ll leave it to you to decide.

Chopstixfix rating: 3.5/5

MIST Rahmen Fine Dining G/F, 4 Sun Wui Road, Causeway Bay. Tel: 2881 5006

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You can also see my review on Sassy Hong Kong.