Edible Briefs – Nihon Noodles Ramen

Nihon_Noodles_signNihon_Noodles_storefrontAfter work tonight, Root and I stopped by Nihon Noodles on South King Street for dinner. Located in the building where Bunmeido used to be, this ramen shop opened recently, and only came to our attention a couple of weeks ago. Sharing parking with a couple of bars, the small parking lot was full to over capacity with double-parked cars. We luckily found street parking. Keep this in mind when you come here. Outwardly, the storefront didn’t really match the ramen shop atmosphere, and on entering, the interior was even more unnatural. White marble walls and dark marble tables with indirect lighting and icicle Christmas lights seemed more at home in a lounge or bar. Perhaps when they moved in, they inherited the décor from the previous occupants. We were seated quickly and given water and menus. I wanted the Hakata ramen, but I figured I’d try a combo to get a taste of some of their other offerings. My Noodle Combo came with three “Yokohama gyoza”, a mini curry rice, and a standard size bowl of Hakata ramen for pennies under $11 USD. The ramen alone would have been about $8 USD.

Nihon_Noodles_gyoza_curryNihon_Noodles_Hakata_ramenThe curry rice was a nice side. The curry was well prepared and tasty. There were some good-sized beef chunks that were soft beef – no gristle, weird connective tissue, or strange membranes. A sprinkling of shiro goma (white sesame seeds) was a nice touch. I give it a B+. The gyoza was prepared correctly – pan fried – and were on the better side of good, a solid B. The ramen was hot and flavorful. The noodles were thin, but a little soft – I would have preferred them a hair firmer. The noodles were topped with good sized portions of kizami beni shoga (julienned pickled red ginger), menma (seasoned bamboo shoot slices), chasiu (Chinese-style braised/roasted pork), moyashi (mung bean sprouts), nori (laver seaweed sheet), and finely chopped green onions. The chasiu was actually made from a high-grade cut of pork that was somewhat fat-free. At first this seemed a little odd, but since the broth was so rich, the lack of fat in the pork was quickly forgotten. The thick pork-bone broth was very good and had no heavy fat taste, nor a burnt bone bitterness. This was one of the better tonkotsu ramen that I’ve had, and that includes what I’ve had in Japan! I give it an A.

Nihon_Noodles_azuki_ice_creamI had broken a sweat eating the hot, rich ramen in the insufficiently air conditioned place, so when it came time for dessert, I went for the azuki bean ice cream. It arrived partially soft. There were some good ice slabs in it, and the parts that weren’t melty were crystallized, indicating poor handling and excessive age. The $2 USD ice cream gets a D. Definitely pass on this one.

Root got a sampler set that had mini sized servings of Hakata, Tokyo, and Sapporo ramen. It was interesting (and also indicative of the commitment to quality) that the noodle shapes and thicknesses were tailored to match the different broths and were all different.

About $16 for meal and dessert, including tax and tip


Three-and-a-half out of four dining monkeys

5 Responses to “Edible Briefs – Nihon Noodles Ramen”

  • Hakata Ramen is my fave. Will have to check this one out.

  • The heroic trio I got, sorry, Nippon Trio, consisted of their three thickness of noodles and matching broth. Noodles presented on the side to avoid them getting soggy from sitting too long in broth. Thinest noodles with Hakata style tonkotsu broth. Flavorful but not heavy broth, good. Medium thick noodle with Tokyo style shoyu broth. Good straight flavor, nothing special. Thickest noodle with Sapporo style miso broth. Most flavorful, but also very salty. I could feel the moisture being sucked out of my brain, next morning confirmed despite all the water I drank. My fav is the Hakata. Side of egg was a straight cold hard boiled egg, not like the wonderful cooked in broth soft boiled at Ra Ra Ya. Perhaps the smaller bowl sizes lesser heat capacity isn’t so great as the broth was already getting cold by the time I moved on from my first. The char-siu didn’t do it for me, the lean cut made it dry, and flavor on bland side. Past couple times I’ve made at home I’ve used the lean loin cut too since they come in more managable sizes, with similar dry results. To me it should be pork shoulder or butt and have the fat that makes the slices melt in your mouth, like “Rocket” Ramen’s. To be honest, my opinion of Nihon Noodles is much less. While not bad, it wasn’t great. To me everything was average, and in this town with a fair share of ramen joints, it needs to be something a bit better to distinguish itself.
    The decor is pretty eclectic for a ramen joint. In table burners make you think it may have been a yakiniku place, but there’s no ceiling hood. I noticed there is a ramen where you get bowl of broth at table sitting on burner. The music was a likewise eclectic mix ranging from non-descript jazz, to 80’s J-Pop, to Okinawa traditional, to contemporary english pop. If you get seated at the Diamond Head end, take a peek out the window at the apartment building across the side street and you’ll see a memorial to the 442nd. Interesting, never knew that existed, and in such a tucked away spot.

    2 out of 4 dessicated monkeys, and this is after a Tanatalus road climb so I was hungry!

  • I hear you Root, but you gotta remember how crappy the ramen was around town just a few short years ago. I’ll take average over the “stuff” they pass off at places like Sanoya Ramen on King St.! Can you believe with all the better ramen places in town now, Sanoya’s is still pretty full? Who eats there anymore?!??!

  • Sanoya? People who want XD, of oourse! How about Ezogiku? That place was terrible – is it still there?

    The obvious conclusion that can be drawn from Root’s panning of the Heroic Trio, is forgo the dynamite and 55-gallon drum… sorry, the Tokyo/shoyu-aji and “Sapporo”/miso-aji and just order the Hakata ramen.

  • This location was previously Neo Nabe. Nihon Noodles came into this location almost two years ago.

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