Rating: 7 / 10
"Hey, I just read there is a new ramen place opened in Oslo 2 weeks ago!! It's in Økern!... Yeah I know... Økern... You wanna go?"
I jumped into my pants with the speed of a person set alight seeking water. The public transport routes were calculated mid-stride, and apart from an uneasy few minutes on the bus with a lunatic alcoholic wearing shorts and a cowboy hat who kept dropping a steel wrench the size of a canoe, I managed to arrive in Økern still breathing.
The voice at the other end of the phoneline met me inside the bizarre looking "Økern Portalen" which was a newly finished building housing various restaurants on the ground floor. We found Kazam, a bright, rather sleek looking spot and ordered a bowl of Tonkotsu and a bowl of Tan Tan Ramen before finding chairs at the back.
The friendly server came over and filled our waterglasses informing us that they had been open barely 13 days. We mentioned our addiction to ramen to which she smiled and retreated to leave us to our anticipations.
After being subjected to a 10 minute welcoming speech from the architects and builders of the Portalen, the food sauntered in, giving off a pleasant aroma to kickstart the senses.
As learned men know from having watched the Master school the student in Tanpopo; first a moment of revery, a couple of deep breaths, then a spoonful of broth to introduce the bowl and colour your optimism.
Both broths tasted good, but the tonkotsu broth lacked the deep, fatty umami you get in a real Fukuoka bowl. The tan tan had a tiny bite of spice which I, of course, appreciated. The chicken was crispy and flavoursome, the added beansprouts always welcome and the egg cooked and marinated better than at Ezo, Sapporo and Koie. Instead of the melt-in-your-mouth chashu pork, Kazam had opted for more of a bacon approach which ate a little dry to be honest.
If there was one criticism to voice, it was the noodles. Tho good in flavour, they were far too overcooked for my liking, something you noticed the second they touched your lips without even having to bite down. I did mention it to the staff since I want ramen places to succeed and keep improving and to do so everyone needs constructive feedback once in a while.
Overall if pushed I would rather eat a bowl here than at the ramen places in town, except perhaps Hrimnir which still tops the list based on flavour and overall execution, but I keep avoiding it for the hipster cave it has become.
Long live ramen! And well done to Kazam for a good beginning. I'll return in a few months to see if you have nailed the noodles and made small adjustments, and I honestly look forward to it.
These recommendations are just personal opinions based on my palate, things change, chefs get fired or replaced, places open-close, relocate, so take it all with a pinch of MSG and discover your own gems too. But please do try a few of these, they have been researched exhaustively
"Sadness is tempered by umami, grief by the motion of slurping, hope restored in the ladling of glistening, fatty broth"