Hong Kong Ramen – let’s resuscitate this old topic
Have been dreaming back to my days in NYC where Momofuku was a 10min walk from home. Yes, the hype is deafening to the point of not wanting to go, but it was so consistently good. Someone who puts that much care into a glorified bowl of noodle soup deserves a little attention.
I’ve read his recipe and there are a lot of pieces to it: two styles of pork, tare, the broth, onsen egg, pickled veges, etc. The first issue of Lucky Peach is dedicated to ramen and with so many great practitioners it seems there’s little room in the world for ordinary ramen, let alone bad ramen.
I’ve made the momofuku pork buns (perfect!), onsen eggs (perfect!), pork belly (perfect!), various pickles (perfect!), chicken wing confit (good) with tare (too salty!) so before I try my hand at his ramen, I thought I’d start walking my way through the best of ramen in HK for inspiration. It’s a gloomy Monday and I’m working in ICC so decide to pop down to Elements mall to give IPPEI-AN RAMEN & BAR another go. My assessment in short: for someone wanting a quick unoffensive lunch, it was ordinary. For someone seeking out good ramen, it was disappointing. Not worth even talking about this place on Chowhound except as a springboard to reach out to ramen aficionados for better options.
I see this “Top 5” list by Asia Tatler Dining. Is it accurate? Have they just chosen the fancy places (ie. high rent, expensive decor) with celebrity chef?
For what it’s worth, here is my assessment of Ippei-an Ramen. Check out the difference between the menu photo and what I was given. Ha!
Higomonzu Ramen $75 (supposedly their best on offer
)Asahi Draft $50 (was necessary)
The egg was hard boiled (what a shame - so much nicer with soft yolk). It looked smoked or tea/soy soaked on outside (ie. little brown) but tasted absolutely plain.
The cabbage tossed on top was plain/raw, so much nicer if quick pickled.
Broth was milky looking and not overly salty at first. I suspect it’s a prok and chicken stock blend (quite valid) but to me the chicken flavour predominated. Not sure I could taste any tare in the background.
The stewed pork was a total let-down. Look at the menu picture, it’s lovely grilled to golden brown. Mine was grey, slippery and ultra-mild taste, reminded me of the left-over anaemic pork from making stock.
Sliced pork was fine. Noodles were springy and holding their bight. By the end of the bowl, however, the whole meal was feeling too salty. I didn't use the condiments (red pepper/nori/sesame powder, pickled garlic w crusher).
It’s funny how this Timeout writer had such a different experience a couple of years ago:
But those on Openrice weren’t so kind:
Anyway, enough crappy ramen. Where’s the good stuff? Mist? Ippudo?
Was in Central on weekend so popped into Hide-Chan Ramen in Wellington St.
The pics show presentation not really eye-popping, but this was intensely flavoured ramen.
One of the secrets to ramen is to somehow infused the fat back into the broth (opposite to Western-style soup where you skim the fat). This particular broth, of the Hakata Original Ramen, was so thick and rich and a perfect way to see this method at work. In fact, part way through eating I could clearly see a layer of oily fat emerging on the surface. This was not particularly offensive and probably unavoidable for this style of broth.
I liked the ability to choose noodle texture (I went for medium) and they were perfect. There was no egg on top but not particularly missed with this style. I chose the pork neck which has a grained texture whereas my companion went for the port shoulder.
I've also included a pic of the gyoza which was quite nice - not overfilled and slightly firm to the bight.
I'd probably return to Hide-Chan however it was not a light snack. You have to be prepared for a heavy and rich meal. I think next stop will be Ippudo in TST for comparison.
I've tried Hide-Chan, Ippudo, Santouka, and Mist. Out of those, I'd say Hide-Chan has the richest broth and best overall bowl, though the egg was disappointing. Santouka is also quite good overall. When I was in Tokyo, I loved Ippudo, but found that the Hong Kong Ippudo does not taste the same-- compared to Tokyo's, the broth was bland and the egg flavorless. Mist was just ok.
Still waiting for some great ramen in HK!
The pork cheek ramen at Santouka in iSquare is pretty awesome although maybe not quite as good as the version I had at their Japanese branch in Kyoto. It's close though!
Butao King is supposed to be where it's at with regard to ramen in HK these days but I've never been able to arrive before a hundred other were queuing up before me so it still eludes me :-(