I’ve been asked many, many times to go try restaurant ramen by my readers. Well, Merry Christmas! As Gurney Halleck once said in the novel Dune, “Behold, as a wild ass in the desert, go I forth to my work.”
To be honest, this is a new frontier for me. In the past, I’ve been to one actual ramen restaurant and that was down in California. I did do a post on it, but that was a long time ago and I’d not really figured it would be a regular thing. This review begins what should be a slightly regular thing; I mean I’m not going every week or anything but often-ish; more often than I had in the past, that’s for sure.
I’ll review restaurants the same way I review everything else – from the standpoint of my palate.No science, no insanity. Ratings will be based solely on the ramoen – no appetizers/etcetera unless they’re extras that are really to upgrade the ramen.
Hokkaido Ramen Santouka – Bellevue, Washington
Hokkaido Ramen Santouka
103 Bellevue Way NE, Bellevue, WA 98004
It had been quite a while since my wife and I had the chance to venture out by ourselves without the kiddos in tow. a one year old girl and a very, very rambunctious 2 1/4 year old just didn’t seem a good combo with bowls of hot noodles in broth. So we went to this ramen joint.
The wait to be seated was short – maybe 3 or 4 minutes which was nice. It was a Sunday in the early afternoon, however it was pretty busy there.
We ordered a couple drinks – a melon float for my wife and a Coke float for me.
We decided to try the karaage (click to enlarge). It’s been a couple weeks and I swore it was tonkatsu but that’s not on the menu so it must be karaage. Chicken was crisp and meat was tender and tasty.
My wife ordered the Cha-shu Gohan – rice topped with pork which was very nice. We also got a couple from the ramen toppings menu – Bara Toro Cha-shu and Aji-Tama. The Bara Toro Cha Shu is pork cheeks and braised pork belly. I will say the pork belly was good as were the cheeks, however it did seem like there was linger of over cooked fat with them and that wasn’t to my liking.
Here’s half of the Aji-Tama in my ramen. This was just excellent – marinated just the right amount and the yolk was just perfect – not too congealed, not too drippy.
I ended up choosing the shio tonkotsu (click to enlarge). The noodles were great – nice and chewy with a great gauge to them. The broth was thick with a balance of shio and tonkotsu. I think was I wanted to be honest was an onslaught of creamy, rich tonkotsu with no distractions, but the shio really did go well. The cha-shu was excellent – could eat that for a whole day straight. A slice of narutomaki sat atop along with sesame, menma, kikirage… I know people are going to call me names, but I’ve never come in contact with that little berry looking things before – I thought ‘hey, is that a fresh Wolfberry?’ but it doesn’t look like it. It was crunchy and I believe it had a pit. Wasn’t sure if I was supposed to eat that or not – like a bay leaf. But then again, I eat bay leaves. I really liked the ramen. It was quite good, well presented and all. I just have to say it didn’t give me that ‘oh holy crap I have to tell everyone to come here immediately.’ 4.75 out of 5.0 stars.